Salads don’t always get much love. And when I look back on some of the salads I’ve encountered in the past, it’s no wonder. Lots of iceberg lettuce smothered in dressing, salads loaded down with croutons and few veggies, and full of processed meats. It’s no wonder salad isn’t always considered a tasty when it comes to meals.
But luckily for us real food lovers, a new salad era is upon us. Gone are the days of Jell-O salads — yes, these were a thing — and enter the reign of the chopped salad. And with the popularity of grain-free Paleo diets and vegan diets, which eliminate all animal products, gone are the sad salad bar days and in are the delicious, main dish-worthy meals.
But either at the fancy farm table counter or on the bill, you’re probably painfully aware that those salads don’t come cheap. Well, the great thing about salads is that you can make restaurant-worthy ones at home! You don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen to create some incredible salad recipes. Check these out …
20 Salad Recipes that Impress Guests
This salad is brimming with summertime flavors, like mint, basil and mixed greens. The homemade maple syrup and balsamic dressing is tasty, but it’s the almond-crusted goat milk cheese that makes this salad taste so good. Cheesy and heart-healthy? Count me in.
Photo: Floating Kitchen
Eating your nutrition-rich broccoli isn’t a chore when it comes to this salad. Made with sunflower seeds, golden raisins and fresh broccoli, it takes just 5 minutes to prepare. It’s the perfect choice to take along to cookouts or serve as a barbecue side salad.
Photo: Dr. Axe
Love ranch dressing but hate the extra additives in it? Enjoy this buffalo-style chicken salad with homemade dressing instead. If you’re avoiding dairy, this salad recipe isn’t for you, since the dressing requires mayonnaise and sour cream or Greek yogurt. But if you can tolerate lactose, you will be rewarded with a creamy, flavorful dressing made with dill, blue cheese and chives that’s perfect drizzled on the grilled buffalo chicken. You can’t lose with this one.
This veggie-packed recipe is a cross between salsa and a salad. It forgoes dressing for creamy, good-for-you fats avocado instead, but my favorite part might be the range of colors. With red peppers, crisp green cucumbers and protein-rich black beans, you’ll be getting a range of nutrients across the rainbow.
5. Detox Salad
Do you need a health reset after a big weekend or a string of unhealthy means? Give this detox salad a whirl. Between the crisp, chopped kale and cabbage and crunchy almonds, it’s like a texture explosion in your mouth. Combined with the Dijon mustard, honey, fresh lemon and brain-boosting olive oil dressing, this salad is not to miss.
Photo: Eat Yourself Skinny
I love that this Mediterranean-style bowl skips the greens and replaces it with superfood quinoa instead. That means it’s full of fiber, protein and antioxidants. Top it with hummus, fresh tomato slices and lemon to finish it all off.
The star of this chicken is definitely the chili lime chicken. You could use chicken breasts, but thighs will make this recipe 100 times juicier and extra flavorful. When combined with bell peppers, romaine lettuce and avocado, this is the fajita salad all those fast food restaurants hope to make.
This fruity salad is a terrific way to use leftover quinoa while being substantial enough to be filling. Just mix it with a variety of berries and mango, and top with honey, lime and fresh basil for a refreshing meal.
Photo: The Recipe Critic
Totally gluten-free, vegan-friendly and a breeze to make, this Israeli salad goes really well with grilled meats, like the suggested schwarma. With garden-variety veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and fresh herbs, whether you serve this one as a starter or a side, it will be a hit.
Up the nutritional value of the typical Caesar salad by replacing it with one of my favorite superfoods, kale. The leafy green is full of vitamins K, A and C and tastes extra delicious when drizzled with a homemade, yogurt-based Caesar dressing. Don’t skip the fresh Parmesan cheese!
Photo: Kale Caesar Salad
Using fresh, quality kale is the key to this salad. Instead of an overly tough green, you’ll be rewarded with a crunchy, tangy base. Sprinkle it with fresh basil, almonds and raisins and top with lemon juice and Dijon for a salad that’s worthy of a restaurant dish. Make it heartier and increase the protein quotient by adding grilled chicken.
This salad compiles all of nature’s goodness into one big bowl. It combines chickpeas, kale, broccoli and cabbage with a homemade lemon tahini dressing. But vegans, what’s most exciting is that there’s an accompanying dairy-free Parmesan recipe. Now that’s a win.
If you thought steak always had to come with a side of potatoes, think again. This is a great salad to enjoy after a hard workout. It’s full of protein thanks to the grilled beef, hard-boiled egg and raw nuts. I love the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard vinaigrette dressing. Along with the crumbled goat cheese, they’re the perfect topping for this filling meal.
Benefit-loaded beets do not get enough appreciation for how hard they work. The benefits range from being high in antioxidants to reducing inflammation. But this roasted beet salad ensures you start eating more of the veggie. Once you try it served with goat cheese, almonds and a zesty dressing made from orange juice, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing.
Photo: Dr. Axe
This budget-friendly, vegan recipe features one of my favorite high-protein foods, lentils. They help manage blood sugar levels and improve digestive health and, when combined with roasted garlic, onions and tomatoes, make one satiating and tasty salad.
It’s like this salad is wearing a power suit. It’s got all the heavy hitters: sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale and a creamy, dreamy sauce made from avocado. Add in quinoa, black beans and jalapeño for some kick, and you have a spicy, kick-butt salad that’ll leave you glowing.
Photo: Cookie + Kate
Spinach and strawberries? They’re a match made in heaven. Toss in avocado and chicken and you’ve got an unbeatable combo. The dressing here does double-duty, with half of it acting as chicken marinade. This is the perfect summer salad.
This salad recipe is what summer is made of. With shucked corn, red bell peppers, avocados and scallions, it screams long, lazy days and hot nights. It’s ready in under 15 minutes, but letting it sit for a few hours let the flavors meld even more.
Take pan-fried sweet potatoes and chickpeas, add crunchy onions and finish off with spicy red pepper flakes for a seriously tasty dish. Best of all, this salad is totally vegan. Win!
This Thai-style salad is full of veggies you probably aren’t eating enough of, like disease-fighting red cabbage and vitamin A-rich carrots. The homemade peanut butter and ginger dressing is just the icing on the cake.
Photo: The Recipe Critic
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