Fresh Summer Salad with Arugula, Corn & Spicy Cashew Dressing

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 10 votes

My fresh summer salad with arugula, corn, sweet peaches, and spicy-tangy cashew dressing is colourful, crisp, juicy, and perfect for warm days! Topped with salty vegan feta and toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch, this tossed salad has an abundance of textures and flavours.

An up close, overhead shot of a fresh summer salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta.

Ready in 30 minutes, this juicy peach, peppery arugula, and sweet corn combination is the most refreshing summer salad. It’s made with simple ingredients like fresh corn, sliced peaches, arugula, cashews, lime juice, maple syrup, and hot sauce. The corn is quickly sautéed on the stovetop, but everything else goes into the bowl as-is. Filled with fresh flavours, nourishing fruits and vegetables, plus a kick from the spicy and creamy cashew dressing, this crisp salad is ideal for warm days.

A slight 3/4 angle shot of a salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta.
An overhead shot shows ingredients for a seasonal salad on a worn wood cutting board.
An overhead shot shows the ingredients for a spicy cashew dressing in the pitcher of a blender.
An overhead shot shows a blended up spicy cashew dressing.

If you’re looking for summer salad ideas, this is it! The juxtaposition of flavour and texture in this one is so crave-able. To make my salads interesting, I treat them almost like a vegetable sundae of sorts. In recipe development, I go for a solid base and then add something creamy, something crunchy, a few seasonal vegetables/fruits, and always a homemade dressing that’s super flavourful on its own. Some great examples are: my shaved zucchini salad with plums & almonds and my creamy chopped dill pickle salad.

The summer salad dressing you’ll be making all year long

  • Our salad dressing here has a cashew base, but I suggest alternatives in the recipe notes.
  • We balance the creaminess of cashews with fresh lime juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, a smidge of raw garlic, coconut aminos for depth, and hot sauce for spice.
  • I also love this homemade salad dressing on grain bowls, massaged into kale salads, as a veggie dip, or a finishing drizzle for soups.
  • You can prep this simple blender dressing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

The rich dressing, vegan feta (Trader Joe’s makes my favourite one), sautéed corn, and toasted pumpkin seeds make this plant-based salad hearty. If you want to make your salad even more filling–sliding over into dinner salad territory–I recommend topping it with my crispy baked tofu bits or my marinated and grilled tempeh recipe.

I hope that you give this healthy and tasty salad a try soon! It’s a new favourite around here. I really want to lean into salads and produce-heavy recipes this summer. Starting with this one feels so good!

An overhead shot shows a hand using a wooden utensil to stir up corn kernels in a sauté pan
A 3/4 angle shot shows the following components in an enamelware bowl: baby arugula, cooked corn kernels, sliced red onion, and sliced peaches.
An up close, overhead shot of a fresh summer salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta. The dressing is being applied with a squeeze bottle.
An overhead shot of a fresh summer salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta.

Fresh Summer Salad with Arugula, Corn & Spicy Cashew Dressing

My fresh summer salad with arugula, corn, sweet peaches, and spicy-tangy cashew dressing is colourful, crisp, juicy, and ready in 30 minutes! Topped with salty vegan feta and toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.
5 from 10 votes
An overhead shot of a fresh summer salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Spicy Cashew Dressing (makes a little extra)

  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Cholula)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Summer Salad

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cobs corn, kernels removed (about 2 ½ cups kernels total)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups baby arugula, packed (about ½ standard 142 gram package of arugula)
  • 2 large peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • cup crumbled vegan feta, optional
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Equipment

Notes

  • Any pitted and chopped stone fruit would be nice in this salad. Nectarines, plums, even cherries!
  • You can substitute soaked sliced almonds or sunflower seeds for the cashews.
  • My favourite vegan feta is the Trader Joe’s branded one. Violife makes a decent version as well!
  • You can definitely substitute frozen or canned corn in place of fresh.

Instructions

  • Make the dressing. Drain the cashews and transfer them to an upright blender. To the blender, add the garlic clove, water, olive oil, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Tamari, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Blend the mixture on high until completely smooth and pourable. Check the dressing for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
  • Cook the corn. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the corn and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and then transfer to a plate.
  • Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, peaches, red onion, cooked corn, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lime juice, and some salt and pepper. Toss to coat. At this point, I like to transfer the salad to a wide bowl or serving platter, trying to get some of the corn and peaches up top.
  • Drizzle the top of the salad evenly with the spicy cashew dressing. Finish the summer salad with the crumbled vegan feta, toasted pumpkin seeds, and extra grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately!
An up close, overhead shot of a fresh summer salad featuring: cooked corn, sliced peaches, arugula, pumpkin seeds, spicy cashew dressing, and vegan feta. Wooden salad tongs are seen on the left side of the photo.
21/06/2023 (Last Updated 07/03/2024)
Posted in: cashews, creamy, gluten free, grain-free, quick, salad, salty, sauce, sour, spicy, summer, sweet, vegan

10 comments

Recipe Rating




  • amy

    5 stars
    i made this last night and even though i was excited about it beforehand, i was blown away by how good the dressing was! i thinned mine out with a little extra water and o m g. such a good combo of flavours in this one!! even without the feta. you nailed it! thank you!

  • Leanna

    5 stars
    an amazing flavor combo for summer. the dressing is incredible!

  • Elizabeth

    5 stars
    I just made this for lunch and had to come leave a review right away. What a perfect salad! The flavors and textures are so good together. I added baked tofu for some protein and didn’t cook the corn kernels because I like it raw straight off the cob. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

  • Cassy

    5 stars
    I made this on a whim for a gathering and it was a big hit! I used aged cashew cheese and even non-vegans loved it. Wonderful summer recipe.

  • Anja

    5 stars
    This was lovely! I had some leftover Pita, which I diced, fried in a bit of olive oil and then added to the salad – turned out a great summer dinner.

  • Mara

    5 stars
    What a fabulous salad!!! Really filling and lovely flavour. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ty

    5 stars
    Oh my! What a delicious salad! My teenage son is averse to eating salads, but he devoured this.  We love, LOVE this dressing. The only thing I did differently was adding a little more Cholula to the dressing. Definite keeper for our family.

  • D

    5 stars
    I used apples instead and it was delicious. I think the dressing would make a good dip for yam fries too.

  • Barbara Zucker

    5 stars
    This salad is amazing! Restaurant quality. We will be serving often! I made it exactly as written. The dressing is fantastic and we loved everything about it!

  • Elizabeth

    Wow, this looks so good! Your salads are my favorite. They are always hearty with a great combination of flavors and textures. Can’t wait to try this one!