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    Summer Salad Recipe with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

    Published June 25, 2019. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Delicious easy to make summer green salad that is jam-packed with fresh berries, avocado, tomatoes, peaches, quinoa, and grilled chicken with a refreshing cream poppy seed dressing.

    Summer is the peak season for fresh berries, peaches, tomatoes, and lettuce greens, making it the perfect time to make this summer salad recipe.  While it seems odd to add fresh berries to this salad, I can guarantee you with the combination of flavors and dressing, that this one is absolutely delicious.

    This recipe is loaded with protein from the chicken and quinoa and overflowing with antioxidants from all of the fruit making it guilt-free, similar to my Chicken Taco Salad Recipe.  As for most of my recipes, it is my recommendation to use it as a guide and swap out ingredients as you see fit.

    blue bowl of full of lettuce, berries, chicken avocado and tomatoes

    What Is It

    A summer salad is any recipe using in-season produce to help create it.  Whether it’s fresh vegetables like zucchini or green beans, or fruit such as peaches or cherries, summer is bursting with fresh produce and it’s the perfect time to make a leafy greens salad with all of your favorite toppings.

    How to Cook Quinoa

    Quinoa is a complete protein with all of the essential amino acids and you don’t have to worry about the long term effects of animal protein fat or animal growth hormones.  Think of it like this, quinoa is a grain that is just as loaded with protein as the steak you may be consuming but is WAY healthier for you.

    1. Rinse quinoa with a fine mesh strainer and add it to a pot with water.  Quinoa cooks at a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid.
    2. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes
    3. Set it aside from the heat for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.  The quinoa needs to be cold for this salad so chill after cooking.
    4. Quinoa can also be subbed out for things such as farro, bulgur, or even cracked wheat.

    How to Make a Poppy Seed Dressing

    For the dressing, I made a really simple creamy poppy seed dressing that is delicious and really easy to make using this method.

    making a poppy seed dressing with lemon and honey in a bowl

    • Add the yogurt, lemon, white balsamic vinegar, a touch of honey, avocado oil and poppy seeds to a mason jar and shake it up like crazy until it is emulsified, or combined.

    You can absolutely do this the old fashioned way in a bowl using a whisk, however, this vigorous shaking will almost always lead to it being perfectly combined.

    Salad Ingredients

    With my leafy greens, I usually like to incorporate fruits into it.  Doing this seasonally, of course, makes the most sense and because tomatoes, fresh berries, and peaches are peaking then why not load up a salad with all that goodness.  If it were winter I would add things like apples or pears, but since it’s summer I am trying to make it linger extra hard.  Other ingredients might include:

    • zucchini
    • squash
    • watermelon
    • radicchio
    • fresh herbs
    • corn
    • cucumbers

    Since I like protein, I also wanted to add some grilled chicken into this salad for a bit more flavor and because grilling just screams summer.  Please also feel free to add grilled salmon or grilled steak to it.

    grilled chicken breasts on a cast iron plate

    How to Serve it

    Serving it is best either plated up individually, presented in a large bowl all together with the dressing on the side, or as a bar with the individual ingredients laid out separately.  It’s important if you are serving a bowl of salad to start with the leafy greens first and then add the other ingredients on top for all to see and decide what they like and don’t like.

    bowl of fresh leafy greens.

    Since this was just for my family I went with the second option where you can take a large scoop and take as much as you want.

    One of my favorite things about making salads is that you can put in it whatever you’d like, just always be sure to stay seasonal.  Nothing worse than eating a salad loaded with ingredients that don’t taste like they should when they’re in peak season.

    summer salad with fresh berries, cherries, peaches, avocados, chicken and quinoa

    By doing this you will save money since things like fresh berries are ridiculously expensive during those winter months and definitely aren’t worth the money you will spend on them.  Well, I hope this recipe helps inspire you and motivates you to take better care of your body if you aren’t already.

    How to Store It

    This salad will hold in the refrigerator for up to 2 days covered in plastic.  You cannot freeze this recipe.  Be sure to keep the salad dressing on the side to prevent wilting.

    More Salad Recipes

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Summer Salad Recipe with Quinoa and Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

    5 from 6 votes
    This Summer Salad with Quinoa Recipe and Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing is loaded with nutrients and perfect for those hot summer days.
    Servings: 4
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Total Time: 40 minutes


    For the Dressing:

    • ¼ cup of whole fat yogurt
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of honey
    • ½ cup of avocado oil
    • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
    • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

    For the Salad:

    • 2 cups of cooked and chilled Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa
    • 8 cups of packed leafy greens
    • 2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced, or 1 cup of pulled rotisserie chicken
    • ½ cup of blackberries
    • ½ cup of raspberries
    • ½ cup of blueberries
    • ½ cup of strawberries
    • ½ cup of pitted assorted cherries
    • 1 peeled, seeded and sliced avocado
    • 1 cup of sliced assorted cherry tomatoes
    • microgreens for garnish
    • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.


    • Dressing: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium-size bowl or shake in a mason jar until combined. Chill before using.
    • Salad: Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and dress with dressing.
    • Serve!


    Chef Notes:
    • As for most of my recipes it is my recommendation to use it as a guide and swap out ingredients as you see fit.
    • The quinoa needs to be cold for this salad so chill after cooking.
    • Please also feel free to add grilled salmon or grilled steak to this salad.


    Calories: 305kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 17gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 126mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 640IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2.3mg
    Course: Salad
    Cuisine: American