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These quick and easy summer salads, drinks feature Michigan-grown produce

Michelle Martin, for Busch’s Fresh Food Market
For the perfect light summertime meal or side dish, try a fresh watermelon, feta and mint salad.

When it comes to summer, there are those who want to spend every moment outdoors enjoying the heat and those who prefer to stay inside with the air conditioning turned on.

But whether you love it or hate it, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on — as August continues to heat up, no one wants to be in the kitchen.

That’s why light meals and thirst-quenching drinks are a must this summer. And using Michigan-grown ingredients helps to ensure that every meal is fresh, healthy and delicious.

Not planning to turn on the oven this summer? You’re not alone. Here are some quick and easy recipes for salads and drinks that feature Michigan-grown fruit and vegetables.

Watermelon, feta and mint salad

Watermelon is a summer favorite for people of all ages, and Michigan’s watermelons are bursting with just the right amount of seasonal sweetness. They’re in season –– and in store –– starting in early August. 

For a light meal, serve a watermelon, feta and mint salad. Watermelon and feta have the ideal balance of sweet and salty, and the mint adds the perfect freshness. Best of all, the salad is easy to make.


  • 8-pound watermelon (approx.) cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)


In a large bowl, toss the watermelon cubes and crumbled feta. Mix in the mint leaves. Serve as is, or drizzle with a balsamic reduction. To make the reduction, whisk the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan with the sugar. Cook the reduction over medium heat for three to four minutes or until syrupy. 

Spinach and red pepper salad 

Spinach and red peppers are in season during Michigan summers, and a simple salad that brings together the best of both flavors can be on the menu for any weeknight meal.


  • 6 ounces spinach
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar


To make the salad, mix the spinach and red bell pepper in a large bowl with most of the grated parmesan cheese, reserving some of it to top off the salad. In a separate bowl, whisk the extra virgin olive oil and rice vinegar. Toss the salad with the oil and vinegar dressing and top with extra parmesan cheese. 

Cucumber salad

Vinegar and sugar create the perfect tangy dressing for this fresh cucumber salad.

Michigan cucumbers are a summer staple that are in season from July to September. Enjoy them in an easy-to-make light summer salad –– a great vegan option. 


  • 3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill


Make a simple cucumber salad by salting the thinly sliced cucumbers and letting them sweat in a large bowl for an hour. Drain the liquid. Toss the cucumbers with the thinly sliced red onion. Meanwhile, over high heat, combine the white vinegar and granulated sugar in a pan. Stir for three to five minutes. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers and onions, then add the minced dill. Refrigerate one to two hours and serve cold. 

Blueberry martini

Michigan blueberries add color and flavor to salads, yogurts and desserts –– and they’re even more delicious in drinks such as a blueberry martini.


  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1/3 ounce blueberry liqueur
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Ice cubes
  • Simple syrup (optional)


Fill a cocktail shaker with the vodka, blueberry liqueur, blueberries and ice cubes. Shake and strain into a martini glass and add a few blueberries to top it off. For more sweetness, add some simple syrup –– equal parts sugar and water –– to taste. 

Peach lemonade

Peach lemonade adds a twist to a traditional summertime favorite.

Lemonade stands remind us of childhood. And by adding Michigan-grown peaches, this drink becomes a favorite for all ages.  


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 medium peaches, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slices (optional)


To make a peach lemonade, start with the peach mixture. Bring to a boil the water, peaches and sugar. Simmer for five to seven minutes and allow it to cool. When the mixture is cool, strain and discard the skins. Add the peach mixture to the lemon juice and pour over ice. Add slices of lemon if desired. 

Sparkling cucumber water 

Cucumber-infused water is a refreshing, delicious alternative to water infused with lemon or lime. And it’s easy to make. Simply slice a cucumber and add it to a pitcher or carafe of water. 

You also can take the drink up a notch when substituting sparkling water and adding a few ingredients. 


  • 1 bottle sparkling water
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Ice cubes
  • Vodka (optional)


Pour the sparkling water and add the cucumber and lemon into a carafe with some ice cubes. Add some fresh mint leaves. Refrigerate, or serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a few sprigs of mint. To kick it up a notch, add a shot of vodka — or cucumber vodka, if you have it.

For more summer recipes that use the best of Michigan’s seasonal produce, visit www.buschslocal.com/home/.

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