35 Peak Summer Recipes

salmon ceviche

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

When the mercury rises and summer's bounty starts to show up at the farmers' market and your backyard garden, we all crave fresh foods that bring the outdoors in. We gathered the best healthy summer recipes that will give you lots of energy for fun in the sun, plus look pretty on the plate and taste delicious. We've got lots of options for every meal, course, and preparation style. You won't run out of recipes until Labor Day.

Your Produce Checklist

Summer is rich in peak-season fruits and vegetables. Look for these items at your farmers market or local grocery for the best flavors:

  • 01 of 35

    Avocado Caprese

    Avocado, Tomato, and Mozzarella Caprese Salad

    The Spruce/Emily Hawkes

    Traditional caprese salad highlights summer's best juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella, but this version adds avocado for a dose of healthy fats. With all the colors of the Italian flag, this "tricolore" salad starts any meal off on a festive foot.

  • 02 of 35

    Cold Five-Spice Zucchini Noodles

    Cold Five-Spice Zucchini Noodle Salad

    Alice Martini

    Swap out noodles for spiralized summer squash and toss it with grilled chicken and a tongue-tingling five spice dressing for a cold summer dish that works great as a main dish, a vegetable side, or an appetizer.

  • 03 of 35

    Salmon Ceviche with Mango

    salmon ceviche

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This salmon ceviche is packed with mango and jalapeños. It is a perfect appetizer served with tortilla or plantain chips for scooping. Serve it at your next gathering for a refreshing and delicious snack, or include it as part of a summertime lunch or dinner. 

  • 04 of 35

    Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)

    Kachumber salad recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    What makes kachumber unique is its dressing, which doesn't contain any oil, but rather a very simple combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This quick-to-make kachumber recipe brings to your table a flavorful salad whose refreshing nature makes it a great side to any spicy food, curries, dal, rotis, or even burgers.

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  • 05 of 35

    Grilled Eggplant

    Perfect Grilled Eggplant

    The Spruce/Victoria Heydt

    Grilling eggplant gives the purple summer fruit a tender sweetness and a slight smoky char that turns it into a star as a veggie main or side. Feel free to embellish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a dollop of pesto, or a little feta cheese to really make it shine.

  • 06 of 35

    Shrimp Avocado Salad

    Shrimp Avocado Salad

    The Spruce/Jennifer Perillo

    For a light lunch or bright and simple starter, try avocado and shrimp salad. It has a zippy citrus dressing that does double duty by keeping the avocado from turning brown. It makes a nice change from the creamy salads that often appear at backyard barbecues.

  • 07 of 35

    Cold Soba Noodles

    cold soba noodle salad

    When it's too hot to eat warm food, cold soba noodles with colorful vegetables and a sweet and spicy chili, ginger, and honey dressing will hit the spot. Make it ahead and pack it for lunches all week, since it keeps well in the refrigerator.

  • 08 of 35

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad With Cilantro Dressing

    Laurel Randolph

    Early summer asparagus and peppery fresh arugula come together with shaved parmesan and a honey, lemon, vinegar, and garlic dressing for a unique salad that tastes great alongside whatever's on the grill. Make it a day ahead to give the flavors time to meld.

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  • 09 of 35

    Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    The Spruce / Darlene Schmidt 

    For a handheld appetizer or fun-to-eat main, Thai basil chicken lettuce wraps have all of the flavor of the classic takeout favorite. They come together quickly too, for last-minute dishes.

  • 10 of 35

    Grilled Purple Salad

    Grilled Purple Salad

    Laurel Randolph

    It doesn't get much prettier than a grilled salad with red cabbage and purple potatoes that gets a hit of smoky flavor from some time on the coals. Serve it alongside grilled fish, chicken, or even steak as a fun side.

  • 11 of 35

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine with Feta and Za'atar

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine with Feta and Za'atar
    Anita Schecter

    Grilled colorful heirloom tomatoes give this elegant tartine a gorgeous presentation, while salty feta and zesty za'atar levels up the flavor. Pro tip: Make twice as many tomatoes as you think you need, because your kitchen helpers will eat them right off the plate.

  • 12 of 35

    Vegan Black Bean and Mango Salad

    Vegan Black Bean and Mango Salad

    The Spruce/Emily Hawkes

    For those who don't eat the eggs and mayo that often show up in picnic sides, serve a colorful and delicious mango and black bean salad. With fresh bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeño, it makes the most of your garden and brings a little heat.

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  • 13 of 35

    Spicy Pickled Asparagus

    Picked asparagus recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

    Savor the brief early summer season of tender asparagus for as long as possible by pickling them with a little spice. Use the freshest spears you can find for best results. Your own garden's harvest or farmer's market bunches are both good bets.

  • 14 of 35

    Baked Zucchini Fries

    Baked Zucchini Fries

    The Spruce/Diana Rattray

    Use up extra summer squash and add some veggies to your plate with baked panko and parmesan zucchini fries. You'll never miss the taters.

  • 15 of 35

    Tandoor Paneer Tikka

    Tandoori Paneer Tikka recipe

    The Spruce

    Marinate juicy chunks of soft paneer in tandoori masala and then skewer them with vegetables like bell peppers, red onion, and even zucchini for an Indian treat. They make a tasty appetizer or a vegetarian main when served with naan or white rice.

  • 16 of 35

    Vegan Oven-Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

    Vegan Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

    The Spruce

    Cauliflower will start appearing in many farmer's markets in midsummer, so snap one up to make vegan Buffalo cauliflower. They have all of the flavor of your favorite bar snack with much less fat and cholesterol. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing and carrot and celery sticks.

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  • 17 of 35

    Tomato, Corn, and Basil Salad

    Corn Tomato Basil Salad

    Molly Watson

    Toss together garden-ripe corn, tomatoes, and basil in a summer salad that doesn't require turning on the oven. A simple olive oil and vinegar dressing enhances the vegetables' natural sweet and tart flavors.

  • 18 of 35

    Spicy Edamame

    Spicy Edamame (Soy Beans)

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

    Fresh edamame will hit the market around August, but you can often find them frozen in supermarkets in the off-season, too. Just a quick blanch in boiling water then a sprinkle with spice and you have a tasty appetizer for an Asian feast.

  • 19 of 35

    Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

    Mediterranean chickpea salad

    Anita Schecter

    Toss chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and whatever other vegetables look good at the market into a simple salad that marinates in a tangy mustard and lemon dressing. It will last for a bit in the fridge, for a great make-ahead lunch option.

  • 20 of 35

    Fresh Pico de Gallo

    Pico de Gallo

    The Spruce

    Make your own fresh tomato and onion salsa to use up all of those garden gems and adjust the heat level to just where you like it. It complements everything from tacos to nachos to just a bag of tortilla chips perfectly.

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  • 21 of 35

    BLT Pasta Salad

    BLT pasta salad

    Laurel Randolph 

    Turn your diner favorite into a BLT pasta salad that brings both fresh vegetables and assertive flavors to the table. Keep the salad crisp and cold until ready to serve, since it contains some mayonnaise.

  • 22 of 35

    Easy Bruschetta

    Easy Vegan Bruschetta

    The Spruce

    The season's best tomatoes hardly need any accoutrements to taste absolutely delicious. Highlight those beauties with good, crusty bread, some fresh basil, and olive oil in this simple bruschetta appetizer.

  • 23 of 35

    Carolina Slaw

    Carolina slaw recipe

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

    If you try to avoid creamy dressings, service this vinegar-based sweet and sour cabbage coleslaw instead. Typically served alongside barbecue dishes, it will add a Southern accent to any grilled protein, too.

  • 24 of 35

    Thai Spring Rolls

    Vegan Thai-Style Spring Rolls

    The Spruce 

    Hit the herb garden for cilantro, mint, and basil then grab some carrots, spring onions, bean sprouts, and green cabbage for homemade Thai spring rolls. If you use rice wrappers, they can also be gluten-free.

    Continue to 25 of 35 below.
  • 25 of 35

    Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

    Shrimp boil foil packet

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    For all the goodness of a low country boil without making it a big production, try shrimp boil foil packets. Lightly precook the potatoes and corn before tossing them into a foil packet with shrimp, andouille sausage, and your signature seasonings so everything comes out done perfectly.

  • 26 of 35

    Grilled Peaches

    Grilled Peaches with dollops of crème fraîche

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    For a healthy dessert, just halve summer's sweetest peaches and toss those babies on the grill. They take on a lovely char that just intensifies their flavor. Dollop a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top if you like.

  • 27 of 35

    Cool Vegan Cucumber Soup

    Cool vegan cucumber soup

    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes

    Turn cucumbers into a light chilled summer soup that works as a simple lunch or dinner with a loaf of crusty bread. Use nondairy milk to keep it vegan or whatever milk you have on hand for a quick and easy meal.

  • 28 of 35

    Grilled Shrimp Salad

    grilled shrimp salad

     Leah Maroney

    Cook everything in this main dish salad right on the grill, even the Romaine. It takes on a sweet flavor when it hits the heat that really elevates the entire dish. Cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, cucumber, and a simple avocado and lime dressing bring it all together.

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  • 29 of 35

    Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    Classic Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Start the day off right with a roasted vegetable quiche that comes chock full of veggies. Almost anything you have in the crisper will work, but we especially like tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, onion, and bell pepper.

  • 30 of 35

    Green Shakshuka

    Green Shakshuka

    The Spruce / Anita Schecter 

    Replace the traditional tomatoes with broccoli rabe and spinach for a Mediterranean-inspired breakfast dish that will keep you full all day. You can also use other hearty greens like Swiss Chard, Kale, or mustard greens if you prefer. Poached eggs top it all off with a dose of protein.

  • 31 of 35

    Black Bean Veggie Burgers

    Vegan Black Bean Veggie Burgers
    The Spruce.

    Make your own black bean burgers to give the vegetarian main tons of flavor. Top them with your favorite burger fixins and serve on your roll of choice or a bed of lettuce for a lower-carb option. They also freeze well, so make a double or triple batch.

  • 32 of 35

    Gurkensalat (German Cucumber-Dill Salad)

    German Cucumber-Dill Salad (Gurkensalat)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This German cucumber-dill salad, called gurkensalat, is a refreshing summer salad that goes well with many types of meat, especially pork. The dressing is a winning combination of vinegar and sugar for a refreshing side dish. The mixture also makes a flavorful addition to a chicken salad or tuna salad sandwich.

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  • 33 of 35

    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    Thai Rice Noodle Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

    The Spruce/Maxwell Cozzi

    This Thai rice noodle salad is fresh and flavorful, and it's simple to make, too. It features vermicelli rice noodles and lots of fresh summer vegetables—feel free to add or substitute depending on what's available at your local market.

  • 34 of 35

    Fresh and Healthy Spinach Soup

    Low fat spinach soup recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This fresh, low-fat spinach soup is wonderfully nutritious and delicious. It's also easy to put together and can be ready in about 30 minutes, making it an ideal light lunch or a great starter for dinner.

  • 35 of 35

    Sautéed Garlic-Herb Bell Peppers

    Garlic and Herb Sautéed Bell Pepper Strips

    The Spruce 

    Bell peppers are a great low-calorie vegetable, filled with vitamins C and A, and fiber. In this recipe, garlic and herbs add flavor to crispy strips of sautéed bell peppers. It's a quick preparation that accentuates their natural sweetness. A few herbs, seasonings, and good quality olive oil make a fantastic dish in less than 20 minutes.