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Greek salad

7 light summer salad recipes for hot summer days

When the weather's hot, there's nothing like a light summer salad to quench your hunger without making you feel too overheated or bloated. We've rounded up seven of the most delicious summer salad recipes to help pack your summer with flavour.

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Summer salad season

When hot summer days arrive, you may find yourself craving a light and refreshing salad packed with vegetables or fruit. Of course, this is not to say you become a guru of leafy greens who doesn’t indulge in hearty barbecues, ice creams, and other summer treats. But, compared to winter, you may find you reduce your intake of heavy, high-calorie meals.

There are several theories for this trend, for example:

  • Warm weather causes your appetite to decrease - some studies suggest that your calorie intake and your basal metabolic rate - the number of calories your body burns to perform essential functions - both drop in summer1. This is because your body doesn't have to work so hard to keep at its optimum temperature.

  • You crave more thirst-quenching food - summer salad recipes usually contain lots of fruit or vegetables which tend to have a high-water content. Hot weather causes your body to crave rehydration through these kinds of foods.

Giving your body what it needs is always good, but summer salad recipes can also set your tastebuds alive with exciting flavour combinations. This is why salads are some of our favourite summer recipes.

If you consider your go-to salad bland and boring, it's time to upgrade your summer picnics, barbecues, and indoor meals with these delicious summer salad recipes.

Greek salad

Greek salad

Greek salad

Vegetarian

One of the most classic summer salad recipes, Greek salad is crunchy and refreshing, with cucumber, onion, and tomato that supply vitamins and antioxidants2. Olives are added for saltiness and feta cheese makes this salad creamy, tangy, and indulgent. Feel free to swap feta for goat cheese, that's also smooth, packs a lot of flavour, and is high in vitamins A, B, D, and E3.

Get the recipe here

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Summer crunch salad

Epic summer salad

Epic summer salad

Vegetarian

This is another simple salad that makes a great crunchy and refreshing side dish. Its base is made up of green beans - a source of vitamins B9 and K - cherry tomatoes (vitamin C) and mushrooms (vitamin D). This is finished with the strong cheesy flavour of parmesan shavings, giving a small dose of calcium4 and healthy fats5.

Get the recipe here

Watermelon and feta salad

Watermelon and feta salad

Watermelon and feta salad

Vegetarian

Watermelon salad with feta makes an exciting pairing at any picnic or barbecue. Due to its very high-water content, watermelon is a star ingredient when it comes to summer salad recipes that feel hydrating and cooling. Watermelon is also anti-inflammatory and contains vitamins A and C. The salty and creamy feta cheese cuts through the freshness.

Get the recipe here

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Zesty, herby pearl barley and chicken salad

Zesty, herby pearl barley and chicken salad

Zesty, herby pearl barley and chicken salad

Meat

On a hot day, a chicken salad makes a light, yet protein-rich lunch or dinner. If you wish, you can swap the chicken breast for another protein - such as salmon or tofu - that will help you to feel fuller for longer. Pearl barley is a healthy nutrient-rich carbohydrate, high in beta glucans (β-glucans) which are good for heart health and help to lower cholesterol6.

Get the recipe here

Sesame rainbow salad

Sesame rainbow salad

Sesame rainbow salad

Vegan

This summer salad is a great stand-alone lunch dish. Peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and olives are colourful, refreshing, and rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The sesame dressing includes ginger and soy sauce which packs-in flavour.

Get the recipe here

Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Meat

Caesar salad is always a big hit in summer. This particular recipe creates a smoky and lightly charred flavour by searing romaine lettuce wedges on the barbecue. For those who like anchovies, this classic Caesar salad ingredient adds a hit of saltiness and is also a source of protein7 and omega-3 fatty acids8.

Get the recipe here

Summer fruit salad

Summer fruit salad

Vegan

Finally, what better way to round off a picnic than with a colourful and thirst-quenching fruit salad. This recipe includes grapes, kiwis, oranges and strawberries, giving you a big boost of antioxidants and vitamins including C, A, B6, and K. Lime juice keeps the fruit fresher for longer, while also adding a tasty zing to complement the sweetness of the strawberries and grapes.

Get the recipe here

Patient picks for Healthy eating

Further reading - nutrients and vitamins

  1. Tanaka et al: Relationship between seasonal changes in food intake and energy metabolism, physical activity, and body composition in young Japanese women.

  2. National Institutes of Health: Antioxidants: in depth.

  3. Harvard Chan school of public health: The nutrition source - Vitamins.

  4. Harvard Chan school of public health: Calcium.

  5. Patient: The truth about the fat in your diet.

  6. Charlton et al: Effect of six weeks' consumption of β-glucan-rich oat products on cholesterol levels.

  7. Patient: How much protein do you need to build muscle?

  8. Patient: Do omega-3 fish oil supplements have a proven benefit.

Article history

The information on this page is peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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