Salad Recipes Perfect for Picnic Season

‘Tis the season to dine outdoors. Sunshine, blossoming flowers, and fresh ingredients mean it’s the perfect time of year to pack a picnic and enjoy everything nature has to offer. No picnic is complete without at least one salad, which is why we’ve compiled 6 salad recipes, covering everything from a simple tomato salad to a zesty Moroccan carrot salad with spicy lemon dressing. We suggest whipping up one of these superb dishes immediately, packing your picnic basket, and heading to a beautiful spot by the water. We can’t think of a better way to spend a warm-weather day!

1. Tangy Coleslaw with Smoked Corn and Lime Dressing

Coleslaw

Tangy coleslaw with smoked corn and lime dressing | iStock.com

Liven up traditional coleslaw with Cooking Channel’s recipe. Fresh seasonings and spices, veggies, and a few saucy ingredients, including rice vinegar and honey, create a zesty-tasting coleslaw. The recipe also requires you to smoke corn, and although the process requires a tad more effort than standard salads, the end result is well worth it. Make sure to give this dish time to sit prior to serving; the flavors will marry and become even more flavorful. It makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons smoking oak saw dust chips
  • 3 ears fresh corn, shucked (2 cups kernels)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, shredded or grated (2 cups)
  • 1 jalapeño, halved and thinly sliced, seeds and ribs removed if desired
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • ½ head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • ¼ head green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 3 limes (¼ cup)
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions: Sprinkle the sawdust chips over the center of the bottom of the smoker and put the rack in place. Place the corn on the rack. Close the lid and center the smoker over a burner. Turn the heat to medium. Smoke the corn until fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove from the smoker and set aside until cool enough to handle. When the corn is cool enough to handle, remove the kernels and set aside. Discard the cob.

Combine the corn, cilantro, carrots, jalapeños, bell peppers, red cabbage, onions, and green cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey and lime juice in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss the vegetable mixture with the oil mixture and sprinkle with more salt and black pepper.

2. Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Asparagus can be used in a wide array of salad recipes

Asparagus can be used in a wide array of salad recipes| iStock.com

Nothing screams warm weather like lemon, and The Kitchn’s salad is chock-full of the aromatic ingredient. The recipe also includes farro and couscous, asparagus, almonds, and goat cheese, creating a light, hearty, and flavorful salad. If you don’t have farro on hand, feel free to use spelt, wheat berries, or any other hearty grain in its place. Orzo or another small pasta can be substituted for the pearl couscous. It makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredient:

  • 8 ounces (1¼ cups) pearled farro
  • 8 ounces (1¼ cups) pearl couscous
  • 2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil, optional
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Salt the water generously. Add the farro, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile, in another 2-quart saucepan, cook the pearl couscous according to package directions.

Spread the grains and pearl couscous on a large baking sheet and set aside to cool. Zest the lemons over the grains and stir to combine. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large sauté over medium high heat and cook the asparagus until just barely crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Toss the cooled grains with the asparagus in a large bowl. Add the sliced almonds and goat cheese. Whisk the Meyer lemon juice with ¼ cup olive oil and the walnut oil, if using. Taste and adjust. Pour over the grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Antipasto Salad

pasta

Pasta | iStock.com

Giada De Laurentiis’s dishes never disappoint, and her recipe for antipasto salad from Food Network is no exception. Cooked pasta is tossed with salami, turkey, cheese, olives, peppers, and seasonings, and then coated in a refreshing red wine vinaigrette. The recipe takes 35 minutes to make and yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and leaves chopped (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Antipasto Salad

  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • ½ cup hard salami, cut into strips (about 3 ounces)
  • ½ cup smoked turkey, cut into strips (about 3 ounces)
  • ¼ cup provolone cheese, cut into strips
  • ¼ cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 tablespoons green olives, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: To make the vinaigrette, in a blender, add the basil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Blend until the herbs are finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is smooth. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Serve.

4. Moroccan Carrot Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing

Moroccan carrot salad with spicy lemon dressing

Moroccan carrot salad with spicy lemon dressing | iStock.com

Add some spice to your life (or at least your picnic) with Food & Wine’s Moroccan carrot salad. Harissa, a North African chile paste, adds a welcome heat to this dish, while fresh lemon juice, raisins, and feta add tart and tangy flavors. If possible, prepare this salad in advance, so the carrots have a chance to marinate in the dressing and fully absorb its flavors. No harissa? No problem! Make your own using Saveur’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup harissa
  • ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 pounds carrots, julienned on a mandoline or coarsely shredded in a food processor (about 12 cups)
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 pound feta, crumbled

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk the harissa with the lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, raisins, parsley, and feta to the dressing and toss well. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.

5. Tomato Salad

tomato salad

Tomato salad | iStock.com

Filled with healthy ingredients and bright flavors, everything about Country Living’s tomato salad screams summer. Combine the vinegar, green chili, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with the onion, set aside for 5 minutes, and add the tomatoes. Make sure to let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, as it gives the flavors time to blend together. It makes 3 cups.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped green chili (such as serrano, thai, or jalapeño)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes

Directions: Combine the vinegar, green chili, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with the onion and set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Add tomatoes and combine thoroughly. Set aside for 15 minutes before serving.

6. Cold Pea Salad

peas

Peas | iStock.com

Simply Recipes allows peas to shine in this scrumptious salad recipe. Crunchy, chilled, and bursting with fragrant flavors, no picnic should be without this dish. Combine the peas, onions, almonds, and water chestnuts, and in a separate bowl, mix together the mayo and curry powder. Fold the mayo mixture into the peas, add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy! It makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces frozen petite peas (do not thaw)
  • 6 ounces smokehouse almonds, rinsed to take off the excess salt, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 8 ounces chopped water chestnuts
  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions: Combine the frozen peas, green onions, almonds, and water chestnuts. Mix together the mayonnaise and curry powder in a separate bowl. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into peas, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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