This perfect-for-summer strawberry salad is tossed with roasted pistachios, wild rice, and a flavorful lemon poppyseed homemade vinaigrette. This quick and easy summer lunch is the perfect way to fall in love with salads and eating your greens! This summer strawberry salad recipe also makes a great healthy summer side dish for cookouts and BBQs that you can customize with your favorite protein or even add blueberries for a festive Fourth of July appetizer.
As the author of this healthy cookbook, you might assume that I eat a lot of salads— but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I actually HATE salads (well, at least I hate most salads), which is why I started this series called “Salads That Don’t Suck” because, let’s face it, plenty do.
In this series, I create mouth-watering, finger-licking salads like my Roasted Date and Crispy Chickpea Salad and my copycat Sweetgreen Crispy Rice Salad that are SO craveable. Plus, I’ll teach you all my secrets to making the perfect salads along the way. The first salad in this series is one of my favorite healthy lunch recipes: this Summer Strawberry Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette.
Tips for making salads that don’t suck
To pass my very strict salad vibe check, the salad must a) have great texture like crunch or chewiness b) be more crave-able than the other lunch options c) make you feel satisfied and energized until your next meal! There are three secret tricks at play in this Summer Strawberry Salad:
- We salt the greens. This step is critical! Salting your greens adds SO much flavor and makes the greens a delicious star rather than a boring backbone.
- We add in filling, textured elements. In this summer salad recipe, we use wild rice and chopped pistachios, which add heartiness and pleasing texture. Plus, we cool the rice before tossing it in, which turns it into a resistant starch that’s great for weight loss, the digestive system and blood sugar (learn more on this podcast episode)!
- We swap fresh herbs for half the salad greens. This is one of the best ways to level up the flavor of salads. For this summer strawberry salad, I used fresh mint and basil leaves, which make it so bright and fresh.
- We assemble strategically. When you’re ready to serve the salad, toss the greens with a very light coat of dressing. Divide between the serving bowls, and add half the toppings on top of each (this will keep your greens from getting soggy and make sure nothing sinks to the bottom). Add a bit more dressing to the top before serving.
Ingredients for Summer Strawberry Salad
This delicious Summer Strawberry Salad tossed with it’s healthy homemade dressing is sweet, crunchy, zesty and savory, making it one of my favorite ways to get my greens in. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
- Arugula: the base of this summery salad is anti-inflammatory arugula. Studies praise this Italian cress lettuce for its cancer-fighting properties.
- Fresh mint or basil: I love using mint and basil in this salad for extra freshness and health benefits! Mint is proven to be great for boosting digestion, soothing IBS, and de-bloating while basil is shown to fight inflammation.
- Fresh strawberries: juicy strawberries add a perfect amount of sweetness plus Vitamin C and antioxidants that help protect against diseases.
- Wild rice: I love using wild rice in my healthy recipes because it’s proven to have ten times the amount of antioxidants than white and brown rice.
- Pistachios: you’ll love the crunch and flavor that roasted pistachios add to this healthy summer salad. Pistachios also add in heart-healthy fats which are proven to help keep you full longer.
- Extra virgin olive oil: researched for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits, olive oil adds smoothness to our homemade dressing.
- Lemon: acid from lemon juice and the freshness of lemon zest balance out this salad recipe while adding in antioxidants that are proven to help your skin glow!
- Dijon mustard: zippy dijon pulls this healthy homemade dressing together.
- Honey: we naturally sweeten our homemade dressing with raw honey.
- Poppyseeds: adds fruity nuttiness to every bite, poppy seeds are low in carbs and high in fiber.
- Fine grain sea salt: makes all the flavors pop.
Healthy homemade dressing in 2 easy steps
Everything about this Summer Strawberry Salad is delicious, but it wouldn’t be complete without this Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette that’ll give you that summer glow. This healthy dressing is super flavorful and so fast and easy to make in a mason jar. You need just five ingredients and a pinch of salt– most of which you probably already have in your pantry. Here’s how easily it comes together:
- Pour the olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and honey to a jar and shake it vigorously until it emulsifies.
- Then, add in the salt, lemon zest, and poppyseeds and give it a good shake until mixed in. That’s all, folks!
Customize this summer strawberry salad
- Add protein: Looking to make this salad even more of a high protein lunch? Shredded rotisserie chicken or my BBQ crispy roasted chickpeas from my cookbook would be delicious!
- Choose a cheese: For my non-lactose-intolerant friends, adding some shaved aged parmesan or a sprinkle of goat cheese would be sure to impress.
- Make it festive: Searching for the perfect healthy Fourth of July appetizer? Add a handful of blueberries for red, white, and blue vibes.
Don’t forget to prep your wild rice
Though totally worth it for the amazing antioxidants, nutty flavor, and perfectly chewy texture, wild rice takes a little time to cook because it absorbs water more slowly. Plus, we want it to be completely cooled before we add it to the salad. Here’s a few tips to remember as you cook your rice!
- Cook the rice in an ample amount of water, like pasta
- Add a palmful of salt to the water. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Once the rice is al dente, rinse it under cold water and then store it in the fridge in a tightly-sealed container until you’re ready to assemble your salad
Life hacks for salad haters
Still not convinced that salads can be seriously delicious? You do you. There’s plenty of ways to get your vegetables NOT in salad form. I did for years! Let me introduce you to some of my favorite veggie-packed meals:
- Green smoothies— green smoothies are the EASIEST way to get TONS of veggies like greens (of course), cauliflower, avocado, and more. A few I’ve been loving lately? This Lemon Thyme smoothie, this Greeña Colada Smoothie, and this Chocolate Chai Smoothie. Join my Green Smoothie Society for all my green smoothie recipes.
- One-Pot Healthy Taco Pasta: this delicious dish sneaks in riced cauliflower into the ground beef. It’s so invisible, you can’t even taste it!
- Spicy Cauliflower Bolognese: or, skip the beef entirely and use riced cauliflower as the “ground meat” in this delicious Italian dish!
- Use this Green Sauce as a dip for fresh vegetables, to spread on toast, with eggs, or even on a grain bowl! It’s basically a whole salad worth of vegetables in sauce form.
More summer salad recipes to try
Enjoy, and tag me if you make it on Instagram (@lizmoody)—I can’t wait to see!Print
For the salad:
- 3 cups arugula
- 2/3 cup mint or basil leaves, torn
- Fine grain mineral salt
- 1.5 cups chopped strawberries
- 1/2 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (separated)
- 3/4 teaspoon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- Pinch of salt
- Toss the arugula and mint (or basil) with a generous pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Make the dressing by adding olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey to a jar and shaking it vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds and give it a good shake to incorporate.
- Toss greens with a very light coat of dressing. Divide between two plates or bowls and add half of strawberries, wild rice, and pistachios on top of each (doing it this way keeps your greens from getting soggy and ensures toppings don’t sink to the bottom). Finish with a bit more dressing and serve. Serves 2! Enjoy!
Keywords: strawberry pistachio salad