When the weather heats up, I find myself swapping out my usual rotation of warm, comforting pasta and dessert for light and simple salads. Now that April is here and temps are rising, I’m back on my spring/summer salad kick. As I begin to plan out my meals and grocery lists, I’ve started making a mental list of some of my all-time summer favorites. Now, I’m putting pen to paper and sharing them—you can thank me later. I present to you my unofficial list of salads you need to make this spring/summer.

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

Though technically this list isn’t in order, this Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad recipe by Ina Garten might be my favorite spring and summer salad. Ina Garten never misses with her fresh-ingredient-based recipes, and this summer staple is no exception. It combines tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, feta, herbs, spices, and LOTS of lemon juice in a flavorful salad that's light and tasty for hot, summer days. This dish is perfect as a side salad to salmon or chicken or by itself (especially when served with a little side of hummus).

Perfect for: pairing with pita and hummus 

Sweet Potato Kale Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing 

The most recent addition to this list, this sweet potato kale salad (one of my personal faves) by Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan Gerard, is not your average side salad. Featuring crispy, seasoned sweet potatoes and chickpeas, cucumbers, avocado, loads of herbs, and a homemade honey mustard dressing, this salad is nutrient-and-flavor-packed. The best part is the texture, as it features a satisfying crunch that will fill you up (no sides needed).

Perfect for: a healthy weeknight dinner (and lunchtime leftovers).

Zippy Orzo Summer Salad 

This one has been a go-to recipe of mine since early high school and is a necessary addition to any salad rotation. As the name suggests, the star of the show is orzo pasta. However, the background players—corn, dill, chicken, goat cheese, and a homemade light dressing—pack the salad with flavor and enough sustenance to fill you up on its own. I like to make this salad for a light dinner and save the leftovers for my next couple packed lunches.

Perfect for: packing lunch for the office (or classroom) 

Confetti Corn Salad

Unsure if I can technically call this a salad since the only greens here are herbs. However, for what it lacks in traditional salad components, it makes up for in flavor and ease. The quickest and easiest of the bunch, this recipe requires only a few ingredients and roughly half an hour of prep. Combining corn with bell peppers, onions, olive oil, and fresh herbs, this recipe is best served beside a burger and summer fruits. 

Perfect for: bringing to your next poolside soiree/BBQ. 

Cashew Crunch Salad With Sesame Dressing

If you’re a Chinese chicken salad fan like I am, this recipe is for you. With tons of veggies (including edamame, + green onions YUM), roasted cashews, crunchy chow mein noodles, and a must-try sesame dressing, this salad packs a punch in both crunch and flavor. Not to mention, it's super healthy. Throw in a totally optional (but highly-recommended) protein to make this salad as filling as it is delicious.

Perfect for: satisfying your Chinese takeout cravings 

As a salad enthusiast, I refuse to take any more salad slander. These five salads defy the “boring” salad stereotype with more than just greens and vinaigrette. From corn salads to pasta salads to more traditional salads, this list covers just about everything and has been tested and approved by some tough critics. Make these recipes to impress any crowd, your family or significant other, or just yourself. Trust me, you’ll want to save as much as you can for leftovers.