4 of Ina Garten’s Best Summer Salads Are Also the Simplest

Food doesn’t have to be complicated. This seems especially true come summertime. Save the elaborate meals for when temperatures drop and serve some of the best Ina Garten summer salads. They’re prime examples of the cookbook author’s simple food philosophy. Bonus: They mean more time for doing other summer activities and less stress in the kitchen. 

1. Ina Garten best summer salads: creamy cucumber salad

“For me, this is a perfect summer salad to go with salmon for lunch or grilled chicken for dinner,” Garten said of her cucumber salad recipe in the Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Back to Basics

The ingredient list is short, totaling eight items. Additionally, Garten has a trick for watery cucumber salad. 

“Put the cucumber in a colander set over a bowl in the refrigerator and then I’m going to salt it,” she once explained on her cooking show. “And what it’s going to do is it’s going to make a much thicker salad because it’s going to take some of the liquid out of the cucumber.”

She adds thin slices of red onion to the bowl and — a key step — sprinkles salt on top. “This is what’s going to extract all the juices from the onions and the cucumbers and make them really sweet,” she said. “And you wouldn’t believe how much liquid collects in the bottom of the bowl.” 

Unlike other cucumber salad recipes that use mayonnaise or sour cream as the creamy, tangy element, Garten opts ofr yogurt. That, along with hothouse cucumbers, means a “lighter and sweeter” cucumber salad. 

2. Barefoot Contessa Greek salad

Garten once said she could make Greek salad in her sleep. One look at the ingredient list, and it’s easy to see why. 

The recipe, like the majority of her creations, isn’t complicated. There’s the salad component made with peppers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta cheese, and cucumber. Then there’s the red wine vinaigrette Garten pours over the top. 

The best part might be that making Garten’s Greek salad requires just three steps; (1) putting the vegetables and cheese in a bowl, (2) making the dressing, and, finally, (3) tossing it all together. 

Follow the directions exactly, as the Food Network star’s known to do, and the last thing to do is leave the salad to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Ina Garten’s corn and avocado salad

Another fresh Barefoot Contessa salad that’s filled with the flavors of summer is Garten’s corn and avocado salad. It really is one of her best summer salads. 

Why? For starters, like every other salad on this list, it’s simple to make. Beyond that, it’s a great way to do something different with corn on the cob come summertime. 

Plus, it’s versatile. Serve it as a main course just how it is. Alternatively, toss in some chicken, beef, or fish. Use it as a topping on tacos, nachos, greens, etc. The options are seemingly endless. 

Start by boiling corn and taking it off the cob. Pro tip: Garten uses a dish towel trick to keep kernels from bouncing all over the kitchen. 

Then toss it in a bowl with avocados, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, jalapeño peppers, and lime zest. Flavor the mixture with a combination of lime juice, cayenne pepper, and olive oil. Pour the liquid over the salad, season with salt and pepper, and serve. 

4. Ina Garten best summer salads: tomato feta pasta salad

Garten’s best summer salads continue with pasta salad. Similar to previous Barefoot Contessa salads, her tomato feta pasta salad doesn’t require lots of steps. Based on the official recipe seen on Food Network, neither is a long list of ingredients

The Modern Comfort Food author boils the pasta, according to the instructions on the box. When it’s done cooking, she puts the warm pasta in a bowl with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, olives, and tomatoes.

This, according to Garten, is her tip for making pasta salad. “The thing about pasta salad I’ve learned over the years is most of them are so boring,” she said on Barefoot Contessa. “They don’t really have any flavor. One of the key things about making pasta salad is that the pasta should still be warm and then it absorbs all the flavors.”

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