Healthy summer salads

A lady cutting up vegetables for a salad

Set aside your typical salad greens and try these delicious summer salad recipes. They can be made in a flash with minimal prep and cleanup, making them ideal for any lunch or dinner side dish. You can also get creative and use your favourite fruits, vegetables and protein (bonus if they’re in season!).

We’ve rounded up our favourite summer salad recipes for you and your family to try. Don’t forget to top with an easy homemade dressing!

Southwest chicken salad

Level up your summer salad game with this hearty Tex-Mex-inspired salad. Made with simple ingredients, this flavourful and delicious salad is protein-packed and topped with a tasty avocado dressing.

Vegetarian option: Substitute the chicken with chickpeas or roasted sweet potatoes.

Yields: 4


For the chicken and marinade

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6 oz. each)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 limes, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the salad

  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn, rinsed and drained if using canned or cooked and cut off the cob
  • 1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced

Avocado dressing

  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, or more for a thinner consistency
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, basil or parsley leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, with the lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. You can also pulse it in a food processor until it’s combined.
  • Combine the marinade and chicken fillets in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Marinate the chicken for 2 – 6 hours in the fridge.
  • When the chicken is done marinating, make the avocado dressing. Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor, blend until creamy and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then sear the chicken for 4 – 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Let the cooked chicken rest for a couple of minutes and slice into strips
  • In a large salad bowl, layer the chopped lettuce with beans, corn, tomatoes and chicken strips. Then drizzle the avocado dressing on top.

Summer melon fruit salad

Take advantage of the abundance of fresh summer fruit in season and try this refreshing salad. Top with either a creamy yogurt or honey citrus dressing and enjoy!

Tip: This recipe is extremely versatile and both dressings go with any fruit. Feel free to swap out or add any fruit you prefer or have on hand.

Yields: 12


  • 6 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cantaloupe, cubed
  • 1 honeydew, cubed
  • 1 lb strawberries, stems removed, sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries

Honey citrus dressing

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds (optional)

Creamy yogurt dressing

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Combine all fruit in a large bowl
  • Stir together ingredients for the chosen dressing (honey citrus OR creamy yogurt)
  • Add dressing to the fruit bowl. Toss to coat.
  • Cover and chill up to 12 hours or serve immediately

Tortellini pasta salad

Summer is pasta salad season. Try this tortellini salad for your next lunch or to bring to your next potluck. This recipe can also be made with your favourite type of pasta (such as orzo or fusilli) and with any vegetables and beans of your choice.

Yields: 6


  • 18 oz. tortellini
  • Italian dressing
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • One 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 5 pepperoncini, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 cup fresh basil, torn, plus more for garnish
  • Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  • Cook the tortellini according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and let cool.
  • Prepare the dressing according to the instructions in this recipe
  • In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, tomatoes, artichokes, beans, onion, pepperoncini and the dressing and toss to combine
  • Add the arugula and basil and toss again
  • Season to taste, and add Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired
  • Garnish with more fresh basil
  • Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to four days

Which summer salad was your favourite? Take a picture of your treat and tag us on social media @UHNfoundation.

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