We've all been there. You need to bring something to a potluck/cookout and your mind thinks dessert, salad or drinks. Then you hear someone else already has dessert and drinks covered, so salad it is.
But that doesn't mean you need to go boring or take something that wilts in no time. I've asked some blogger friends to show me their best ideas for make ahead salads that are perfect for a potluck, picnic or even just to take to work for lunch. These super salads will see you through summer.
Beans are a great option for salads that are hearty but still relatively healthy and can stand up to a bit of shaking around. Why not try a black bean sweet potato salad for a good dose of veggies as well, or a bean and pecan salad from Imagelicious (above right) for a more unusual combination of flavors.
You can also combine beans with another favorite, lentils, in this bean and lentil salad from The Stingy Vegan (above). Bean salads are definitely on my list to play around with a bit more this summer.
Lentils sometimes get a bit of a bad reputation as being boring, which I think is such a shame. They really have so much more to offer - they're robust, healthy and great at taking on flavor. Plus you can pair them with a whole host of things as these salads show. This golden beet and lentil salad with strawberries from Rhubarbarians (above left) is so full of color, while the lentil spinach salad with prune vinaigrette from Midlife Croissant (above right) draws on lentils' earthiness.
I love roasted tomatoes anyway (see my slow roasted tomatoes for another great addition to your summer eating) and so can't wait to try this roasted garlic tomato salad from Wendy Polisi (above left). My French lentil salad with feta, fennel and celery is a lovely simple combination of aromatic flavors.
I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of pasta salads in general. I think I've just had a few where there was no real flavor or they got all dry. However I think this Italian orzo salad from Veggies Don't Bite (above left) or farfalle with pepperoni, mozzarella and broccoli from Garlic and Zest (above right) would win me over no problem.
Despite my general view, I do like couscous salads, whether a bit more traditional like this 10 minute Greek-inspired couscous salad from Sprinkles and Sprouts (above left), or more unusual like my fruit herb and feta Israeli couscous salad (above right).
Grain salads are another great option for something that's a bit more filling, but in a non-heavy way. One of our favorites in past summers was this caprese quinoa salad (above left). Or keep it simple with this einkorn wheat berry salad from Stacey Homemaker (above right).
I've become quite a fan of farro in salads and love all the crunch of this raw vegetable and farro salad from Pinch and Swirl (above left). While the ingredients may be more autumnal, this farro salad with roasted squash (above right) is great for any time of year.
Of course, you can also largely (or completely) stick to vegetables for a salad that will stand some shaking and that everyone will love. Our recent and instant favorite was this Mexican street corn salad (above) but I'm also looking forward to trying this colorful kohlrabi beetroot and apple salad from Coffee and Crayons (below left) and perfect detox salad from Innocent Delight (below right).
While you need to be a bit more careful about keeping seafood cool compared to some of the other salads, it can still travel better than you might think. Paired with the right ingredients, it can hold up to a little moving around and make a delicious lunch or light meal. I love the colors and textures of this black rice shrimp salad from Sweet Sensitive Free (below left) and the salmon quinoa salad from A Sassy Spoon. And then there's the calamari salad with fennel and avocado based on a dish we had in Cyprus.
Need even more ideas? Others on the site include:
- Roasted spring vegetable farro salad
- Vegan lentil salad with roasted Brussels sprouts
- Easy white bean salad.
So whenever you next say 'sure, I'll bring a salad', or need something light but tasty for lunch, give one of these delicious salads a try. I know I'm going to be trying, or repeating, many of them over the summer.