The Ultimate Summer Salad

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5 from 3 votes

One of my favorite salads of all time is this summer salad. It’s bright and light with shaved veggies, perfectly pickled beets, olives, buttery pistachios, and parmesan crisps. Tossed in a refreshing vinaigrette, this salad is as delicious as it looks.

The best types of salads are those with more stuff in them than lettuce. This guy is exactly that. I crave this salad. That’s right. I crave a salad! There’s so many pops of flavors and textures, from peppery arugula to sweet shaved fennel and onion, to crunchy parmesan crisps, to a touch of brine from olives, creamy from chickpeas, and buttery from pistachios. The best part is the dressing. It’s so refreshing and easy to whip up, made from just 4 pantry ingredients.

I love serving this summer salad before Lemon Pepper Chicken as an appetizer, or as an entrée with my quick, rustic croutons or these Homemade Croutons! Either way, summer is served.

Why You’ll Love This Summer Salad Recipe

  • Appetizer or main dish, this summer salad can be divided into small portions before the main course like my Asian Cucumber Salad or served as the main event with extra protein from Grilled Chicken Thighs or a beautiful piece of Poached Salmon.
  • It’s bright and healthy loaded with tons of veggies, protein and fiber from chickpeas and pistachios, and a homemade vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Make it ahead to save time, keeping the dressing and the salad separate and tossing last minute!
  • Let’s be honest; the biggest reason to make this summer salad is it’s just SO delicious. Period.
  • …And it’s absolutely stunning! The beets dye the salad a beautiful pink color. It’s a summer stunner!

Ingredients

  • Arugula – arugula is the perfect peppery base.
  • Cooked and pickled beets – you can typically find cooked, pickled beets in the produce section. I love the brand “Love Beets” (this is not an ad). If you can’t find pickled beets, buy regular cooked beets and in the recipe, I’ll show you how to quickly pickle them!
  • Fresh mandarin oranges or clementines – mandarin oranges are easy to peel and segment, and they’re super juicy and sweet. Clementines also work.
  • Fennel bulb – thinly shaved fennel is sweet and crunchy with a light anise flavor.
  • Yellow onion – yellow onion adds crunch with a touch of astringency.
  • Castelvetrano olives – Castelvetrano olives are Italian green olives that are mild and buttery. If you can’t find them, you can use Frescatrano olives or another type you love.
  • Chickpeas – toss in chickpeas for a creamy protein touch!
  • Salted and shelled pistachios – oh-so buttery and salty, you have to love pistachios in any salad!
  • Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is the base for our quick vinaigrette.
  • Champagne vinegar – champagne vinegar is hard to beat. It’s delicate and light with crisp acidity. If you can’t find it, you can use white wine vinegar but start with 2 tablespoons instead of 3.
  • Garlic clove – garlic…because garlic!
  • Dijon mustard – Dijon mustard is optional but adds a touch of creaminess to the dressing.
  • Parmesan crisps – top the salad with parmesan crisps, which you can usually get in the grocery store near the charcuterie section.
  • Small ciabatta loaf (optional) – want to top your salad with some super easy homemade croutons? All you’ll need is a good loaf of bread, olive oil, and salt to make them!
Summer Salad Ingredients

Variations

Change up this summer salad to make it just how you want it! Here are some substitution and addition ideas:

  • Different lettuce: use spinach, romaine, butter, or any lettuce blend you like!
  • Different fruit: try adding strawberries, blueberries, or peaches.
  • Different cheese: instead of parm crisps, how about chunks of parmesan or cheddar?
  • Different nut: use marcona almonds or eliminate nuts completely.
  • More veggies: mix in Grilled Corn on the Cob or Broiled Asparagus.
  • More protein: Juicy Baked Chicken Breast is my go-to, or chilled shrimp!

Make Ahead and Storage

You can definitely make this summer salad ahead! Assemble the salad and the dressing in different bowls, up to 2 days ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Toss and add the parmesan crisps and make the optional croutons last minute. It’s as easy as that!

If the salad is already tossed, enjoy the leftovers same-day. Over time, the salad will get soggy.

More Favorite Summer Salad Recipes You’ll Love!

The Ultimate Summer Salad

One of my favorite salads of all time is this summer salad. It’s bright and light with shaved veggies, perfectly pickled beets, olives, buttery pistachios, and parmesan crisps. Tossed in a refreshing vinaigrette, this salad is as delicious as it looks.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: summer
Servings: 4 appetizer portions
Calories: 396kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Equipment

  • Mandoline, (recommended but optional)

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 6 ounces cooked and pickled beets if you can’t find pickled, directions below for quick pickling
  • 2 fresh mandarin oranges or clementines
  • 1 medium fennel bulb stalks and fronds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
  • cup canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup salted and shelled pistachios
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup parmesan crisps to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small ciabatta loaf plus more olive oil to drizzle (for optional rustic croutons)

Instructions

  • Couldn’t find pickled beets? Dice cooked beets into bite-sized pieces. Add them to a bowl with 50% champagne vinegar and 50% water until the beets are completely submerged. Let pickle for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Add arugula to a large salad bowl.
  • Then add pickled beets that are cut into bite-sized pieced.
  • Peel and segment mandarins (or clementines) and add in.
  • Use a mandoline or sharp knife to very thinly slice the fennel bulb and onion, adding to the bowl.
  • Add in the olives, chickpeas, and pistachios.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper. Drizzle all over the salad. Toss.
  • Plate salad, sprinkling with parmesan crisps.
  • Want quick croutons? Rustically tear a loaf of ciabatta, placing pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Broil for 3-6 minutes until light golden brown. Serve!

Video

Notes

  • Love Beets is a common brand sold in grocery store produce sections (like Whole Foods) that sell precooked and often pickled beets! This is not an ad.
  • Castelvetrano olives are Italian green olives that are mild and buttery. If you can’t find them, look for Frescatrano olives or use another olive you love!
  • Champagne vinegar is delicate and light with crisp acidity. If you can’t find it, you can use white wine vinegar but start with 2 tablespoons instead of 3.
  • Top the salad with parmesan crisps, which you can typically find in the grocery store in the charcuterie section.
  • Taste the salad before serving! Too much vinegar? Add a splash of olive oil. Not enough vinegar? Add a tablespoon more and re-toss!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (without croutons) | Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 944mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1229IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 301mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    July 4, 2024 / 12:23 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you for the helpful tips on how to put this salad together. I’ve never made homemade dressing or croutons before, but both were so easy and delicious!

    • July 7, 2024 / 1:28 pm

      I’m so glad the recipe was easy to follow and turned out great! Cheers!

      Grace

  2. Anonymous
    July 4, 2024 / 12:17 pm

    5 stars
    Loooove this salad. It’s totally vegetarian yet satisfying enough to eat for dinner. My new summer go-to!

  3. Anonymous
    July 3, 2024 / 9:43 am

    5 stars
    Such a fun salad idea! I love the combination of salty olives with sweet mandarin oranges. Honestly, I only ever had mandarins out of a can…lol so this is a huge upgrade. YUMMMMMM

    • July 3, 2024 / 9:47 am

      Oranges and olives are such an underrated combo. I’m glad you like as much as me!!

      Grace

5 from 3 votes

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