Ah, summer. Picnics, grilling, and an abundance of vegetables straight from the garden. When days get hot, soups and casseroles (or hotdishes, if you live in Minnesota) don’t hold much appeal. Enter summer salads.  Our meetings at Bridging the Gap always include food. Let’s just say we love to eat—and we’re pretty decent cooks—so we thought we’d share with you our favorite summer salads.

BMT Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Kirsten Renee – Summer picnics or cabin trips wouldn’t be complete without someone bringing a pasta salad to the table. But when it’s hot out, cold pasta salads with any sort of creamy, dairy-fill

ed dressing needs to be on ice so it doesn’t go bad. That’s why I love making pasta salads using different kinds of vinaigrettes. They add the flavors I want while allowing me to enjoy my party, not stress about keeping the food cold.

This pasta salad has a great combination of fresh ingredients and rich bold flavors. You can even prepare all the ingredients a day ahead, toss it together, and let it sit for at least 2 hours, and you’ll have a salad that might become a family favorite.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups cooked and cooled Ditalini pasta
  • ½ pounds smoked turkey breasts, diced
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mustard greens or arugula
  • 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  2. Combine pasta, turkey breast, bacon, and mustard greens. Drizzle with some of the dressing, toss to coat ingredients, and reserve the remaining dressing for use right before serving.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Right before serving, gently stir in the crumbled blue cheese and cherry tomato halves.

*NOTE: If you substitute arugula for the mustard greens, don’t add them until right before you are serving the salad.

Bacon n’ Dill Sweet Potato Salad

Nancy Holte – This salad came to me from my daughter-in-law but originated at paleoish.com. I’ve switched it up a bit to my liking, and it’s one of my favorite go-to salads in the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good traditional potato salad, but this takes potato salad out of the box and into a whole ‘nother realm.


  • 3 – 5 medium sweet potatoes, chopped and roasted
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, chopped and roasted
  • Olive or coconut oil for roasting and dressing
  • 8 slices of thick bacon, cooked and ripped into pieces
  • A handful of raw pumpkin seeds for garnish. (I’ve been known to forget these, and it’s still tasty.)


  • 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 green onions, thinly chopped
  • A handful of fresh dill, chopped (Go easy on the dill. This doesn’t mean a huge handful, more like 1/8 to 1/4 cup or to your taste preference.)
  • A dash or two of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • A few sprinkles of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons maple syrup to taste (I use about 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  1. Peel and chop sweet potato into cubed-like chunks
  1. Toss sweet potato cubes in some olive/coconut oil and arrange on baking sheet. Put the garlic cloves, unchopped, on the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes or so at 375 degrees, until slightly browned.
  3. Arrange slices of bacon on a tin foil-covered baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes at 375° heat. Keep an eye on it, as thickness of the bacon can vary cooking time. I cook the bacon and sweet potatoes at the same time with the bacon in the top pan to keep it from splattering all over the bottom of the other pan.
  4. Remove and set aside to cool.
  5. In the meantime, chop up green onion, fresh dill, and prepare the other ingredients to form the dressing mixture in a bowl. Stir all dressing ingredients together.
  6. Once the roasted sweet potatoes and garlic are cooled, chop garlic and add to sweet potatoes along with the bacon pieces.
  7. Finally, pour in dressing and mix everything together thoroughly. I like to use my hands here to make sure all is coated well!
  8. Garnish with raw pumpkin seeds or other nut/seed of choice.
  9. Can be stored in refrigerator and is even more delicious and flavorful if served cold the next day!

Notes: As with any dressing, feel free to taste and tweak it as you go!

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Broccoli Salad

Cindy Dullum – This is a recipe that was given to me some 30 years ago and is still one of my favorites.  I add cauliflower to mine and sometimes cheese. Since you don’t add  the dressing until right before serving, it makes it easy to bring to a weekend outing. Put  the veggies in a ziplock bag, the dressing in a separate container, and mix it just before serving. Packing it this way lets you have more room in that cooler for those refreshing summer drinks! Enjoy!

Combine in Large bowl and refrigerate:

  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped
  • 1 purple onion, diced
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled


Mix together:

  • 1 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Just before serving, pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well and serve. Yield: 4-6 servings

Layered Coleslaw

Kandy Noles Stevens – I first learned of this salad while attending a Taste of Home Cooking School.  My kids do not like traditional coleslaw but LOVE this version.  They request it anytime we have a group of friends over for a dinner party.  I have made adjustments over the years to include a few additions that our family enjoys.


  • 1 small head of cabbage, shredded (or the bag equivalent of pre-shredded cabbage because, let’s be honest, this is sometimes easier).
  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower, chopped (We’ve also added broccoli here for some extra crunch.)
  • 8 slices of thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (We also add 1/2 cup of sliced radishes.)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups of your favorite slaw dressing (homemade or store bought)


  1. In serving bowl, layer cabbage,cauliflower, half of bacon, peas, mushrooms, and onions. (This looks beautiful in a glass serving bowl but tastes just the same no matter the container.)
  2. Top with cheese.
  3. Pour dressing over the top and sprinkle on remaining bacon.
  4. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Yield: 12 generous servings