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9 Colorful Summertime Salads for a Crowd

author image Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a chef, nutritionist, recipe developer, media personality and award-winning cookbook author. She’s a cooking instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education and frequent contributor to Rachael Ray Every Day magazine. Her newest book is the second edition of "The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook." Instagram/Twitter: @jackienewgent

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9 Colorful Summertime Salads for a Crowd
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

Move over, boring salads: It’s time to create modern takes on classics like potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and more. These new, easy salads are perfect for picnics, cookouts and casual get-togethers. And they’re ideal for a crowd because each recipe makes at least eight servings. Double the recipes for a big party or you can halve them if you’re feeding just a few. They’re relatively quick to fix, with hands-on prep time for each recipe at 12 minutes or less and even better, most are vegetarian. But all nine are simple, scrumptious and colorful ways to boost your veggie intake!

1. Lemony Pesto Macaroni Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

1 Lemony Pesto Macaroni Salad

Keep old-fashioned creamy macaroni salad a thing of the past. Try this new and improved macaroni salad that uses whole-grain pasta for extra fiber. But it’s the taste that will have everyone asking for seconds: The cool macaroni is tossed with a perky lemon-pesto vinaigrette and the finishing touches are all incredibly flavorful, including sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, fresh baby arugula and toasted pine nuts. Want to glam it up even more? Dice up grilled chicken and stir it in to pump up the protein. CALORIES: 92

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Lemony Pesto Macaroni Salad

2. Asian-Style Coleslaw
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

2 Asian-Style Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a standby salad that’s often served, though not always loved. So here’s a slaw that’s been given a worldly makeover: Make it with coconut nectar rather than honey for sweetness and it becomes a vegan slaw for all. Since the main ingredient is cabbage, this better-for-you version provides a significant amount of glucosinolates, which are associated with cancer prevention. All together this recipe is a great example of a great-tasting food that's good for you too! CALORIES: 128

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Asian-Style Coleslaw

3. Spicy Purple Potato Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

3 Spicy Purple Potato Salad

With all that mayo, potato salad is a decadent side dish. But in this version, the potatoes are dressed with a full-flavored, light mixture of non-GMO mayonnaise, grained Dijon mustard, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice and seasonings. And they’re not just any potatoes: They’re purple! Research suggests that two small helpings of purple potatoes a day may lower blood pressure. These pigmented potatoes may be especially helpful due to their anthocyanins. But go ahead and make this creamy (and spicy!) salad with any potato you wish: They’re all rich in antioxidants. CALORIES: 131

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Spicy Purple Potato Salad

4. Party Pasta Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

4 Party Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a solid crowd pleaser but it’s usually full of starchy white carbs. This flavorful, Italian-style recipe uses red lentil rotini instead. This way, you can enjoy pasta salad while boosting your legume intake. Legumes like lentils are rich in fiber and contain other health-promoting nutrients that may play a role in cancer prevention. If you’re not able to find this type of rotini, use a whole-wheat or other whole-grain pasta. For vegetarians or vegans, swap the prosciutto and cheese for finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Buon appetito! CALORIES: 186

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Party Pasta Salad

5. Chickpea, Avocado and Red Onion Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

5 Chickpea, Avocado and Red Onion Salad

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are adored by many, but mostly in the form of hummus. But they're just as delicious served as a signature salad ingredient. Plus, these appetite-squelching pulses may help better manage blood sugar. In this vegan salad, the chickpeas are paired with Hass avocados, fresh cilantro and red onion, all dressed with tangy salsa verde. It’s super easy and quick to fix. CALORIES: 187

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Chickpea, Avocado and Red Onion Salad

6. Caprese Cocktail Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

6 Caprese Cocktail Salad

Caprese salads are a triple threat: simple, healthy and delicious. The tomatoes provide heart-protective vitamin C and lycopene. Here the tomato, mozzarella and basil salad is livened up with the addition of two ingredients: white balsamic vinegar for perkiness and garlic for punch. Serve in martini glasses to add summer-soiree style. CALORIES: 191

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Caprese Cocktail Salad

7. Cowgirl Black Bean Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

7 Cowgirl Black Bean Salad

Here’s a vegan salad that’s pretty to the eye, perky on the palate and pleasing to the heart. Black beans are the key to the heartiness of this salad. Beans are loaded with antioxidants and contain the ideal package of protein and fiber to punch up satiety. What’s more, black beans are especially beneficial for your digestive tract. CALORIES: 136

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Cowgirl Black Bean Salad

8. Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

8 Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad

You can make this salad in advance, chill and take to a picnic. Or you can make part of it in advance, chill and finish it at a cookout by adding the freshly grilled vegetables. As a bonus, this salad is vegan and naturally gluten-free and provides a way to boost whole-grain and veggie intake. It’s versatile as well: The recipe calls for two cups of dry quinoa, which makes about eight cups cooked, but you can make it with whole grains, such as brown rice, sorghum or freekeh. CALORIES: 189

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad

9. Gingery Fruit Salad
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

9 Gingery Fruit Salad

When berries and peaches are in season (spring/summer), this is a must-make salad. Though these fruits are delicious as is, they’re especially tasty together in this colorful salad. A hint of fresh ginger adds liveliness, and white balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt bring out the full fruity flavors. It’s equally enjoyable as an appetizer, side dish or dessert. And it’s a delightful way to get a burst of vitamin C and fiber. CALORIES: 69

Recipe and Nutritional Info: Gingery Fruit Salad

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

What Do YOU Think?

Do you stick to tried-and-true recipes when serving a crowd, or do you prefer to offer something new? What’s your favorite type of salad to make for (or enjoy at) a casual outdoor gathering? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Read more: 11 Food Safety Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

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