Favorite Picnic Salads

Jump to Recipes: Broccoli Bacon Salad | Deli-Style Pasta Salad | Avocado Corn Salad

I just told my sister I could live on these salads. She said it wouldn’t be a well balanced diet, so I described the ingredients. She took it back. Just look at the titles and tell me these aren’t worth living on:

  1. Broccoli and Bacon Salad   2. Deli-Style Pasta Salad   3. Avocado Corn Salad I’ve been happily eating these leftovers from our picnic on Sunday the last few days, eyeing the dwindling stock of salads sadly, knowing that I have to share with everyone else who has access to the fridge upstairs (which at the moment is at least 4 other adults). They last quite well, except for the everyone eating them before me part.

I love recipes with lots of colorful vegetables and a nice mix of flavors and textures. Anything that can be made ahead is also great for events like this, especially if they involve enough ingredients to make the chopping & mixing take a little bit longer. 83/365: Avocado Salad - Chopped Avocados

The only one here with points off for easy make-ahead prep work is the Avocado salad, which has the base mixed up early and then you chop & add the avocados shortly before eating.

For picnics, I try to avoid having anything with much mayonnaise so I don’t need to worry about leaving it out. The broccoli salad fails on that level, but the NY Times says that the vinegar in mayo makes it safe and this salad has extra vinegar, so it must be fine?

One of these recipes – the Broccoli Salad with Bacon – is a favorite from my Mom, copied down after a potluck with friends years ago and made regularly for events with family, friends, or our church ever since. The Deli Style Pasta Salad and Avocado Corn Salad are copied from Taste of Home magazines I subscribed to in the 90s, carefully organized and taped together when they’ve been too well loved.

Last summer I posted recipes for two of my other favorite summer salads, which also succeed in all of these markers:

Tropical Fruit Salad with Honey-Mint Dressing Black Bean Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
Tropical Fruit Salad-2 Corn Bean Salad

Broccoli Bacon Salad

This version makes about 12-16 servings, depending on how hungry people are or how many salads you made for the event

Salad Ingredients

    Broccoli Salad
  • 2 lbs. raw broccoli flowerets, separated into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 large red onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, if you like)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup chopped crispy bacon or bacon bits

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. light mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup vinegar (red wine or apple cider, preferably)
  • 3/4 cup sugar


  1. Mix together salad ingredients. Stir dressing ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Pour dressing over salad and stir together.
  2. Refrigerate a few hours to let flavors blend.

The longer you keep it in the dressing, the softer the broccoli and raisins will be. I like it soft, but if that isn’t appealing to you you can wait to add the dressing until closer to serving. I also use more dressing because I like it soft – if you prefer it crunchy,  you can reduce the dressing and reduce the least healthy aspects of this.


Ingredients Dressing Mixture Slicing Bacon Salad Mix
Broccoli Salad Ingredients Mayo Dressing Broccoli Salad-001 Broccoli Salad

Deli-Style Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 12 meal size servings or 16-20 regular servings
  • Print

From the June/July issue of Taste of Home, recipe from Joyce McLennan of Algonac, Michigan – adjusted for a larger batch

Salad Ingredients

    Deli-Style Pasta Salad - mixed, with recipe
  • 1 package (12 oz.) tricolor pasta
  • 8 oz. sliced salami
  • 8 oz. provolone cheese, cubed
  • 1 6 oz. can ripe olives, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt<
  • dash of pepper


  1. Cook pasta, being sure not to let it get too soft. Drain immediately and rinse in cold water.
  2. Mix in the rest of the prepared salad ingredients (the prep work on this can take a little bit, so give yourself enough time or recruit a helper).
  3. Mix together the dressing and pour over the salad. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight to give the flavors time to soak into the pasta.
  4. Garnish with tomatoes, if desired.

Ingredients Chopped Fillings
Ingredients for Deli-Style Pasta Salad Deli-Style Pasta Salad
Dressing Ingredients Mixed Salad
Deli-Style Pasta Salad-001 Deli-Style Pasta Salad - unmixed

Avocado Corn Salad

I didn’t think I needed another corn salad beyond the one I’ve developed with black beans, limes, and lots of cilantro. But this one uses avocados, olives, and a bit of oregano and is delicious. Good for people who don’t like cilantro! Can also be eaten as a chunky salsa with chips, if you like to have finger-food options. <

from Taste of Home October/November 1997, recipe from Susan Vandermeer of Ogden, Utah

Salad Ingredients

    Avocado Salad
  • 1 package (16 oz.) frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 can (6 oz.) ripe olives, sliced
  • 1 medium red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 medium ripe avocados (kept for last)

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


  1. Combine all salad ingredients except avocados.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and stir into corn mixture.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight for best flavor (will be fine fresh too, just less well blended). Just before serving, chop avocados and stir into salad.

Salad Ingredients Dressing Ingredients
Avocado Salad - chopped veggies Avocado Salad: Dressing

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