Imagine a friend invites you to a summer soirée and asks you to bring a dish to share. What do you do? Veggie platters, chips and dip, and pre-made desserts are quick and easy to grab from the store—but you want to go the extra mile and make something special. At the same time though, you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.

That’s where these five salad recipes come in handy. They’re simple to make and guaranteed to please a crowd. Talk about a win-win!

Photo: Joann Pai

Salad with Chive and Lime Dressing

We love a cobb salad as much as the next person, but sometimes less is more. Take this recipe from Jackie Kai Ellis, for example. The salad itself (a mix of baby gem, butter and red leaf lettuce) is just as simple as the five-ingredient dressing. Keep this one in mind if you have a lot of potlucks planned for this summer—it’ll pair well with a ton of other dishes.

Photo: David R. Gluns

Warm Roasted Potato Salad

This recipe from Shelley Adams of Whitewater Cooks turns a classic summer dish on its head—in more ways than one. Roasted potatoes and barely wilted kale give the salad some much-needed bite, but the dressing is the true standout. Made with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce, it packs a huge punch over the mayo-and-dijon mix you’re used to.

Photo: Seth Stevenson

Watermelon Tomato Salad

If summer were a dish, this would be it. This bright and flavourful salad, made with fresh watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, makes the most of the season’s produce. Thinly sliced jalapenos bring the heat, the tamari lime vinaigrette brings the acid and sesame cashews bring the crunch.

Photo: Darren Cheung

Green Papaya Salad

Chef Angus An’s green papaya salad recipe requires a bit of elbow grease—you need to pound chilies, garlic, palm sugar, dried prawns and roasted peanuts using a mortar and pestle—but it’s well worth it. The dish highlights the full spectrum of Thai flavours: hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Beet, Blackberry and Buckwheat Salad
Photo: Andrew Montgomery

Beet, Blackberry and Buckwheat Salad

With a base of creamy labneh (or Greek yogurt), this recipe from Rosie Daykin feels more like a dip than a salad—but you honestly don’t need bread or crackers to enjoy it! The buckwheat, toasted hazelnuts and roasted beets provide the perfect amount of texture. Finished with a simple vinaigrette and torn mint, guests will love the flavours as much as they love the presentation.