The Best Cold Summer Salads – Perfect for Mother’s Day Outdoor BBQ Picnic!

cold summer salad

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Also note: While I am a certified nutrition coach, I am not a medical doctor. Information here is not intended to be a replacement for the advice you should seek from your doctor.

Summer is finally here and with it the season of outdoor picnics and BBQs! During this time of the year, I truly love spending some quality time with my family, slowing down, and prepping some wholesome, delicious meals to eat together on the patio. This is why, over the years, I came up with some easy and refreshing cold summer salads, perfect to bring with you to family and friend dinners, outdoor BBQs, and picnics.

A family tradition is to prep these cold BBQ salads for Mother’s Day and either serve them as the main dish or a light appetizer/side dish with some plant-based sausages or grass-fed meat. Lately, I have been loving this 100% grass-fed beef from Butcher Box ! 🥗

All of my easy summer salads are kid-friendly and super quick to make (the longest one involves only 15 minutes of preparation), low in carbs and calories, and most of them are even plant-based (or include a plant-based option) and gluten-free! Are you ready to turn your summer dinners around?

three vegan cold summer salads

The Best Cold Summer Salads: quick, easy, and refreshing!

three cold summer salads berry potato cajun chicken

1. Grilled Cajun Chicken or Tempeh Salad

Cajun grilled tempeh salad

This is a healthy, whole-food Cajun chicken or tempeh salad recipe you can make on the grill! It is abundantly composed of plant-based ingredients and more so if you omit the meat or substitute it with a plant protein like tempeh. It is a delightful fusion of cajun grilled chicken or tempeh with the fresh taste of cilantro and lime. Grilled corn is absolutely delicious in this dish! If you choose to grill the tempeh, marinate it in some of the lime cilantro dressing for at least 30 minutes prior in order to make it more tender!

2. Vegan Red Potato Broccoli Salad

Vegan Red Potato Broccoli Salad

This is certainly one of my favorite cold summer salads! This red potato salad is a little more unique than your traditional potato salad! First of all, wanted to add some more healthy ingredients and some crunch to it, so I added fresh broccoli and topped it with some sunflower seeds. When looking for a vegan mayonnaise, make sure it is made with clean ingredients! Mine is made with sunflower oil, aquafaba (the water beans were soaked in), distilled vinegar, salt, organic lemon juice, organic kombu seaweed, and white pepper. All recognizable ingredients without any additives!

3. Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad with a Lemon Maple Vinaigrette

Nothing screams summer like a fresh fruit salad with watermelon and berries! The other day I walked into the store and saw a large yield of watermelons for sale. I immediately knew it was time to start experimenting with this refreshing fruit! I often prefer the taste of watermelon in more savory dishes. It just so happens that it pairs well with feta. I have some lemon thyme in my herb garden and figured would make a perfect dressing to tie all of the ingredients in this salad together: watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and feta. You easily substitute it with vegan feta for a completely plant-based dish!

4. Salmon Kale Salad with Lemon Black Pepper Dressing

cold summer salad kale salad

Another light and refreshing BBQ summer salad is this Salmon Kale Salad! Made with the best whole-food ingredients, this salad is complete in all the micro and micronutrients that can support your body and help you feel satisfied and energized. Plus, grilled salmon is truly on another level! To top this light salad, my incredible Lemon Black Pepper Vinaigrette. A creamy and light dressing that can turn even the saddest salads happy! For a plant-based dish, you can swap the salmon with some marinated tofu or tempeh!

5. Cold Broccoli Salad with Pear Vinaigrette 🍐

pear broccoli salad with tart cherries

Perfect for both an outdoor BBQ dinner with family or friends, but also to bring at work the day after, this cold broccoli salad is the perfect compromise between health and taste! The colorful raw veggies contained in this cold summer salad are not only richer in vitamins and minerals than cooked ones. They also give a special crunch to the mix! In contrast, my creamy and light pear vinaigrette (made with pureed pear, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey) perfectly complements the texture of the salad, in a harmony of flavors and consistencies. I love to pair it with some grilled tofu or chicken for some protein. Plus, a couple of slices of sourdough bread for some healthy carbs!

6. Cherry Gorgonzola Salad 🍒

cherry gorgonzola salad served in a glass bowl with some cherries on the top

This healthy cherry gorgonzola salad is an alternative way to consume this amazing fruit, rich in powerful antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Plus, juicy cherries along with creamy gorgonzola are certainly a match made in heaven! Additionally, the shaved almonds give a crunchy element to the mix! Last but not least, the sour-sweet vinaigrette made with lemon, maple, and mustard goes so well with the sweetness of the cherries and the tanginess of the arugula and gorgonzola. For a fully plant-based BBQ salad, swap the honey in the vinaigrette with an equal amount of maple syrup. In addition, substitute the gorgonzola with some plant-based feta cheese.

7. Light Broccoli Salad with Creamy Dressing

cold summer salad with broccoli and other vegetables overflowed with greek yogurt

Sometimes a BBQ salad just doesn’t do it without all the fixings! Therefore, this cold broccoli salad still includes cheddar and bacon but is made lighter to greatly reduce the guilt. Plus, the tangy and creamy dressing I came up with is super tasty and will give a lot of taste to this healthy salad recipe, without adding unnecessary calories. To make it, all you need are some Greek yogurt, lemon, mustard, and just a touch of mayonnaise. Everyone will ask you for the recipe! For a plant-based salad, swap the cheese and yogurt with their plant-based counterparts and omit the bacon.

8. “Healthfully Loaded” Mexican Street Corn Salad

mexican cold summer salad

This colorful Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe is great for a trip to the beach or picnic. Contrarily to traditional Mexican salad, this one contains lots of colorful veggies, hence the name “healthfully loaded”. I recommend serving it with some grilled chicken, or tofu for a plant-based salad.

9. Spicy Quinoa Salad

spicy quinoa salad

This spicy quinoa salad recipe is truly foolproof. All you have to do is wash and prep all the ingredients. First of all, bring the water to a boil, wait for the quinoa to absorb it, and then mix everything together. And let’s not forget about the bomb Mexican-inspired dressing I came up with. A mixture of lime juice, cumin, and olive oil for a light yet super flavorful sauce! Naturally plant-based, wholesome, and delicious: what more could you want from a BBQ summer salad?

I hope that you and your families enjoy these refreshing BBQ salads as much as I do! I appreciate any feedback in the comments. 😄 And don’t forget to tag my socials if you try any of them. Al the links are down below!

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