Try one with dinner tonight—they're that easy.
tomato salad with chile yogurt
Credit: Christopher Testani

We think the best summer sides are the ones that are super fresh and require no additional cooking. When it's this hot, no one wants to spend extra time in the kitchen, and because produce is at its peak, very little needs to be done to create amazing, vegetable-forward side dishes for your entire family. What's more, these sides come together fast, which means dinner will be on the table before you know it. Prep, dress, and add in additional fixings if you like, then enjoy these dishes alongside your favorite summer meals or take them to go to a picnic or cookout. No matter where you plan to enjoy them, these sides are guaranteed to please.

Tomato Salads

At their ripest and juiciest, summer tomatoes don't need much in terms of prep. They are amazing simply sliced seasoned with flaky sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar. With that, your simplest, most delicious no-cook side is ready. If you want to take it a step further, use this base as a canvas for more innovative tomato salads. Drizzle the fresh fruits with your favorite dressings or layer in cheese to add a luxurious richness. Of course, mozzarella and tomatoes are beloved in the classic Caprese Salad, but any cheese-such as fresh ricotta, goat cheese, or aged cheddar-will taste delightful. Spruce up the dressing with alliums, herbs, or dijon mustard. If you're looking for a truly innovative idea, try this Bloody Mary Tomato Salad. We also like to tomatoes on a bed of chile yogurt or paired with other summer ripe fruit, such as peaches as is the case in this Minted Peach and Tomato Salad.


Fresh Corn Salads

Fresh summer corn is a true treat; the sweet, juicy kernels have a perfect tender crisp bite. Now is when you want to enjoy this vegetable fresh off the cob in easy salads. Remove the kernels from the cob and toss them with a creamy or vinegar-based dressing. Next, add fresh herbs, nuts, cheese, and other chopped vegetables like avocado, cucumber, or red onion. Looking for a recipe? Try our go-to fresh Corn Salad or this Tomato, Corn, and Avocado Salad combo.

zucchini-and-squash salad
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Shaved Zucchini and Summer Squash Salads

The key to a delicious raw squash salad is very thinly slicing these vegetables with a knife, mandoline, or vegetable peeler. Once they're sliced, it's best to marinate them in a dressing, letting the slices soak up flavor while their texture softens. From there, feel free to mix in whatever flavors you are in the mood for. Go with basil, pecorino, and pine nuts for a Zucchini and Squash Salad with a Mediteranean vibe, or try our Shaved Fennel Zucchini and Celery Salads, which features butter beans and almonds for protein and heft. For a zestier vibe, try this Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad with lime and cilantro.

Herbed Bean Salad
Credit: Armando Rafael

Marinated Bean Salads

Protein and fiber-packed, bean salads go well alongside mains paired with other vegetable sides or mixed right into them. For the tastiest no-cook bean salad, start with rinsed and drained canned beans, then whisk together a perky dressing and toss with the beans alongside chopped alliums like onions, shallot, green onions, or chives, and lots of fresh herbs. Let the beans soak up the dressing, these salads only get better with a little time. Take your bean salad to the next level by combining a few different beans for a combination of shapes and textures, like chickpeas, kidney, and black beans. This Herbed Bean Salad is a great base recipe.

Credit: David Malosh

Summer Slaw

Slaw doesn't always mean mayo-drenched green cabbage, although we're fans of that take, too. Lots of our favorite slaw recipes use vinegar-based dressings, and some look beyond green cabbage to Napa or red cabbage; other's skip the cabbage entirely and feature other shredded summer vegetables. If you're not using cabbage for slaw, make sure to choose vegetables that have a little crispness to them. Toss them with a creamy or vinaigrette-style dressing and add in herbs, nuts, seeds, spices, whatever your heart desires. For inspiration, try one of these alt vegetable slaws, Three Pepper Slaw, Spicy Shredded Napa Cabbage, Baby Bok Choy Slaw, and Cucumber and Jicama Slaw.


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