Summertime salads get a refreshing new take on classic tastes

Mom and chef Jessica Rerick shares three recipes sure to be a hit at your next meal or summer event

Delicious summer salads can offer something new exciting with just a few ingredient changes.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms
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Summer is here, and that means it’s time to say, “Hello, again” to salads! While all of these salads can be made year round, it’s so much easier to find produce at the farmers’ market or the local supermarket during the summer months.

The first salad I am going to share with you is one that I love to make because it’s just slightly different from the usual potluck pasta salad. Greek Orzo Pasta Salad is a bright and briney salad that can be made days ahead of time.

In fact, I suggest you make it early because it gets even better the next day (and the day after that….and the day after that!).

The prep for this salad is very minimal by using a store bought dressing, but you could also make your own. I also often substitute chickpea rice in place of the orzo pasta so anyone who is avoiding gluten can also enjoy this salad.

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Greek Orzo Pasta Salad


  • 1 pound orzo pasta, cooked and rinsed with cold water (or chickpea rice to make gluten free)
  • ¾ cup kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • ⅕ cups yellow and red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 ½ cups feta cheese crumbles
  • ½ cup parsley, fresh chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups Greek salad dressing


Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir gently until combined and the pasta and vegetables are well coated. Chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Ditch the classic creamy cucumber salad for this zesty sesame version.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Cucumber salad is another summer salad I love, but most of the time, you’ll see it made with a creamy dressing. Because most of my family doesn’t enjoy creamy salad dressings, I started making Sesame Cucumber Salad. The mayo isn’t missed at all in this super light and refreshing salad.

Even better, the whole family loves it (although I am not sure if it’s because of their love for cucumbers or for their love for sesame seeds - especially the “really cool looking” black ones)! Either way, I’ll take it! To add a little heat to this salad, you can also garnish it with a few crushed chili flakes.

This salad would go great with any grilled meat, but my favorite pairing includes teriyaki chicken, beef, or ginger grilled shrimp. Because the cucumbers are sliced so thin, it’s best when it’s eaten within 1-2 hours, but it can last in the fridge for up to two days.

Sesame Cucumber Salad


  • 2 medium English cucumbers
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seeds, white and black mixed
  • Garnish with cilantro and chili flakes



Using a mandoline (with the finger protector!), thinly slice the cucumbers and place in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water from the bowl. While your cucumbers are marinating, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, salt and sugar in another bowl. Pour over the cumbers and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro leaves and red chili flakes if desired or leave them on the side for guests to add as they wish.

Minor changes like using coconut milk instead of mayo and adding pineapple and coconut flakes majorly increases the flavor in a classic coleslaw recipe.
Jessica Rerick / On the Minds of Moms

Coleslaw is also a summer favorite at a lot of get-togethers. This version is a little different because it is made with coconut milk in place of the typical mayo dressing. I have also added pineapple and coconut flakes for sweetness and a few sliced almonds for added crunch and texture.

The coconut slaw dressing is made with full-fat coconut milk because the lite coconut milk will not be thick enough to properly coat the cabbage. It also contains lime, but if you didn’t want to add the lime, you could just add more apple cider vinegar. You can also omit the almonds or coconut flakes if you don’t like those, or you could really make this slaw your own by substituting a different fruit such as papaya, mango, or strawberries for the pineapple.

This cool and creamy Coconut Lime Coleslaw would pair perfectly with a hot and spicy grilled beef, chicken, or fish. You could even try it in fish tacos!

Coconut Lime Coleslaw


  • 1 16-ounce bag of shredded coleslaw
  • 1 cup diced pineapple, fresh
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sliced almonds for garnish


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together coconut milk, lime juice, and salt. Add coleslaw, pineapple, coconut flakes and gently fold together until evenly combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with sliced almonds and more coconut flakes.

Note: Coleslaw dressing can easily get runny. To help solve that, sprinkle your cabbage with a bit of salt and let it sit in a colander for 30-45 minutes before making the slaw.


Related Topics: ON THE MINDS OF MOMS
Jessica Rerick of Grand Forks is a freelance writer, trained chef and mom to four boys. Her food blog,, is filled with recipes that quickly become new weeknight favorites. She also owns and operates Craveable Kitchen, an expanding line of dry mixes and seasonings.
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