3 Summer Salads

Summer has arrived, which means it’s time for bright, colourful and nutritious salads! Salads can be quick to make and can contribute to your vitamin, mineral and fibre intake. In the warmer months, adding some citrus or summer fruits can create a refreshing yet satisfying salad! It can also be a great way to use up leftover chicken or roast vegetables you may have in your fridge from the night before as well.

Research suggests we should aim for 30+ different plant foods per week for optimal gut health. This includes fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, legumes, bean, pulses and even herbs and spices. This may seem difficult to achieve, but with some simple tips, you will easily be able to build a healthy and balanced salad this summer contributing to the number of plant foods you consume!

My tips for putting the perfect salad together:

  • Select a carbohydrate. This can be couscous, pasta, barley, quinoa, or rice. Carbohydrates ensure we have energy until our next meal. Try for ½ cup of cooked grains as a starting point.  
  • Pick your favourite lean protein. Chicken, red meat, fish, legumes, tofu, or eggs. Protein will help you stay full for longer and can also play a role in muscle growth and repair. Start with 125g per serve and adjust as needed.  
  • Add some colour with vegetables. Aim for at least 3. Different colour vegetables will contribute to your daily fibre intake as well as the promotion of healthy gut flora. 
  • Bulk up your salad with some leafy greens. This can be lettuce, spinach, rocket, or kale. Just 1 cup of leafy greens can contribute to 1 serve of veg as part of your daily intake. 
  • Choose a healthy fat. This could be adding avocado or for some crunch, try adding nuts or seeds such as pepitas, walnuts or sesame seeds. You can also drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top of your salad.
  • Pair with your favourite homemade dressing. There are many easy dressings that can be made with pantry staples. Some of my favourites include using olive oil, vinegar or citrus including lemons.

Below are 3 of our favourite salads here at Embody Nutrition, that can be enjoyed on their own or served in the middle of the table at your next summer barbeque. 

Halloumi and couscous salad (serves 4)

  • 225g halloumi, sliced 
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 200g (1 cup) couscous 
  • 1 ¼ cup of boiling water or stock 
  • 400g (1 can) chickpeas, drained rinsed and patted dry 
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced 
  • 1/3 cup mint, chopped
  • 2 oranges, peeled, cut into segments  
  • 4 -5 cups (approx 120g) mixed salad leaves 
  • ½ cup pepitas (sunflower seeds) 
  • Dressing 
  • 1 ½ tsp honey 
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard 
  • 1-2 oranges, zest and juice 
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C) fan forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Spread out chickpeas on tray and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 mins or until golden and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, place couscous in a large bowl and pour over boiling water/stock. Cover and wait 10 mins until couscous has absorbed the liquid and the grains are tender. Use a fork to fluff up the grains. Set aside. 
  4. Heat a splash of olive oil in a fry pan and cook halloumi for 3 mins, turning halfway. Transfer to paper towel to drain. 
  5. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. 
  6. Combine salad leaves, couscous, chickpeas, mint, cucumber and pepitas in a large serving bowl and mix. 
  7. Pour dressing over salad and mix again. 
  8. Add halloumi and orange on top of salad and serve. 

**Notes – If you are short on time, chickpeas do not need to be roasted and can be added to salad straight from the can.

Salmon noodle salad (serves 4)

  • 300g skinless salmon 
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 200g brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup edamame beans  
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cups red cabbage, very finely shredded 
  • 2 carrots, chopped into matchsticks 
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander 
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Dressing
  • ¼ cup fish sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juice squeezed 
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced 
  1. Cook noodles according to packet instructions and set aside.
  2. Season the salmon with a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  3. Heat olive oil in a fry pan and cook salmon for approximately 10-12 mins. 
  4. Combine “dressing” ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  5. In a serving bowl, mix together cooked noodles, edamame beans, spring onions, red cabbage, carrots and coriander. 
  6. Pour dressing over salad and mix. 
  7. Flake the salmon into the salad and give it a final mix
  8. Top with sesame seeds and serve. 

**Notes – For a convenient option, swap the salmon for a tinned variety, and use a microwave brown rice cup instead.

Chicken and Quinoa salad (serves 4)

  • 400g chicken tenderloins
  • 1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 600g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices
  • 200g (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1 small red onion, sliced 
  • 2-3 cups of mixed salad leaves
  • 100g fetta, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp toasted brazil nuts, chopped 
  • Dressing
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup 
  • Salt and pepper 


  1. Preheat the oven to 210C (190C fan forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
  2. In a bowl combine the paprika, garlic and onion powder, dried parsley and the olive oil. Add the chicken and toss together. 
  3. Place chicken and chopped pumpkin on the lined baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked and golden. 
  4. Meanwhile, cook quinoa is a saucepan of boiling water for 12-15 minutes (or follow packet instructions). Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water before transferring to a large bowl to set aside. 
  5. Add red onion, tomatoes, nuts, and salad leaves to the quinoa. 
  6. Combine the dressing ingredients together and mix to combine (or shake in a jar). Add dressing to salad and mix. 
  7. Chop the chicken into small pieces and toss it into the salad, along with the pumpkin.
  8. Crumble fetta on top of salad and serve. 

**Notes- if you do not have quinoa, feel free to replace it with rice or pasta. This meal can be meal prepped for the week ahead and stored in the fridge. Add the dressing right before eating.