Fresh Summer Salads Add Cool Options To Outdoor Dining

Make a mediterranean salad, spinach salad shrimp, apples and strawberries, a white bean corn salad or pepper salad

Wayne Johnson

Fresh summer salads are always a cool option for dinning on a hot Chicago evening.  The four recipes I'm sharing today are easy to prepare using simple ingredients, can be made in advance, and make a colorful presentation.  Two of the recipes below came from friends.  The Mediterranean potato salad is from NBC Chicago's Marcus Riley and the spinach salad comes from my buddies Giovanni Lugli and John Knight.  The other two recipes are ones that I've shared in the past.  You can mix and match and make more than one for a dinner party.  Or, make them all as part of a big summer buffet.

Mediterranean Potato Salad
courtesy of Marcus Riley
NBC Chicago's Multimedia and Entertainment Reporter
serves 4-6


2 lbs Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
4 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cucumber, peeled and cubed (peeling is optional)
1 med Red Onion, thinly sliced
4 Plum Tomatoes quartered
20 Pitted Black Olives, halved
1/4 cu Fresh Basil, thinly sliced
1 tbl Capers
3 tsp White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
3 Hard Boiled Eggs, peeled and quartered
2 tbl Crumbled Feta Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.  Add potatoes and boil until tender, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain potatoes and allow to cool.  Place potatoes in a large serving bowl and toss with onions and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Arrange cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, basil and capers on top of potatoes. Sprinkle feta on top and garnish with eggs.  At this point, you can cover the salad until ready to serve.  To serve, whisk oregano, vinegar and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and pour over salad.  Toss ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

Shrimp And Spinach Salad with Apples and Strawberries
courtesy of Giovanni Lugli and John Knight
serves 6

The shrimp in this recipe is prepared on an outside grill.  But, you can also sear them over high heat in a flat pan on the stove top using a little olive oil.


1 lb Shrimp, 30-40 count, peeled, deveined (tails removed or left on, depending on your preference)
1 tsp Fresh Oregano finely chopped
1 tsp Chives, finely chopped
1 tsp Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
3 tbl Olive Oil
1 1/2 tbl Lemon Juice
12 oz Fresh Spinach
1 lg Granny Smith Apple (or 2 medium sized ones)
1/2 lb Fresh Strawberries, hulled and chopped
zest of 1 Lemon
1 tbl Balsamic Vinegar
6 Wooden Skewers


Divide shrimp into 6 equal portions and place on skewers.  Put shrimp on a sheet of aluminum foil that is large enough be folded over the skewers and sealed on all sides.  Separately, whisk together 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized bowl.  Add salt, oregano, chives and thyme and combine thoroughly.  Pour over shrimp.  Fold and crimp sides of aluminum to seal the shrimp inside and let them marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.  After an hour, place the skewers on a hot grill for about 3-5 minutes, turning once, until shrimp is cooked through.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, seed and cube apple into 1/2" pieces and toss with remaining lemon juice.  Mix apples with spinach and strawberries in a large serving bowl.  Whisk together balsamic vinegar, lemon zest and remaining olive oil.  Add salt.  Pour over spinach mixture and toss to combine.  Serve salad on individual plates topped with a skewer of shrimp.  For alternatives you can present the skewers on top of the whole salad and allow guests to serve themselves, or remove shrimp from skewers and toss them with the salad before serving.

White Bean and Corn Salad
serves 6


3 ears Fresh Sweet Corn in their husks (or 2 - 15oz cans sweet corn drained)
2 cans Cannellini (white kidney) Beans, 15oz size
5 Green Onions, chopped, green parts included
2 tbl Red Onion, chopped
1 cu Grape Tomatoes (about 25), sliced in half
1/4 cu Fresh Basil, Chopped
1/4 cu Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tbl Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbl Fresh Lime Juice
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
3 tbl Pomegranate Infused Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 cu Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper


Note: If you are using canned corn, skip the grilling step below.

Soak fresh corn in enough water to cover for about 30 minutes.  Drain and place corn on a hot grill in their husks for 25-30 minutes, turning once during cooking.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Remove husks and fibers from corn.  Using a sharp knife, cut corn from cob and place in a bowl.

Meanwhile empty beans into a strainer and rinse with cold water to remove all of the sauce.  Drain beans and add to corn.  Add green onions, red onions, tomatoes, basil, parsley and cilantro.  Toss to mix.  In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lime juice, garlic and vinegar.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Add dressing to bean and corn mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss and serve.

Red, Yellow and Green Pepper Salad
serves 4-6


1 lg Red, Yellow, and Green Pepper, roughly chopped
2 med Carrots, roughly chopped
1 stalk Celery, roughly chopped
1/2 cu Black Olives, sliced
1/4 cu Red Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
2 tbl Fresh Basil, finely chopped
2 tbl Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cu Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Coarse Salt
3 tbl Grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Mix peppers, carrots, celery, olives and red onion in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Add to vegetables.  Season with salt and top with Parmigiano Reggiano.  Toss and serve.

Thanks again to Marcus Riley, Giovanni Lugli and John Knight for sharing their culinary skills.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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