No matter how you might try to get around it with fad diets and cleanses, eating more raw vegetables is one of the very best ways to improve your health and diet. And, like it or not, leafy green salads are probably the fastest and easiest ways to consume your veggies. But salads consisting only of an anemic pile of greens and low-fat dressing are a thing of the past – today’s best green salads are topped with delicious ingredients like avocado, sweet potato, roasted beets, and even smoked trout. Still, figuring out how to combine all of your favorite ingredients into a salad that actually works well all together can be a daunting task – so we’re here to help with 10 recipes for hearty dinner salads.
The 10 salads below have a few things in common: one, they offer a fresh take on traditional salads, mixing things up with exciting ingredient combinations that naturally go well together; two, they are hearty enough to make a filling meal all on their own; and three, they use dark, leafy greens as a base to ensure that, even if you add a little bacon, you’re still getting a big dose of nutrients. Feeling good about your dinner and leaving the table satisfied? That’s a diet trend we can get behind!
A salad as stunning as this Asian-Inspired Salad from Amy of Your Southern Peach could tempt pretty much anyone to eat their greens. She tops a combination of shredded carrots, cabbage, and arugula with chicken, red onion, edamame, rice noodles, mandarin oranges, walnuts, and a ginger dressing for a meal that’s bright, balanced, and tasty. Even the hungriest diner is likely to be satisfied by this one!
Kale salads may have become a bit ubiquitous on restaurant menus over the past year or so, but unless you’re dining out nightly, you probably haven’t gotten tired of them yet. Emily’s fresh take on the dish mellows the kale with a quick turn on the grill, then tops things off with sweet roasted golden beets, fresh figs, and a dollop of creamy ricotta. Drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette, it’s a lovely way to embrace the kale trend.
No one will complain that this salad isn’t dinner-worthy – with two super-rich ingredients, avocado and smoked salmon, this salad from Emily of Fuss Free Cooking will keep you full for hours. Plus, you’ll absorb lots of omega-3s, fiber, vitamin C, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats from the two main ingredients. Fresh cucumber adds a bit of crunch, and the whole thing is tied together with a simple lime vinaigrette and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
4) Broccoli, Spinach, and Egg Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing from Beta Cyanin
This salad, from Sofia at Beta-Cyanin, really packs in the green, with a quarter pound of spinach and a quarter pound of broccoli in every serving. Not the biggest veggie lover? Don’t worry, this one has also got hard-boiled eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, and a honey-mustard dressing to add sweetness and tang (and to distract you from the fact that you just consumed almost all of your recommended daily servings of vegetables in one sitting).
If appearance is important to you when it comes to what graces your dinner table, try this gorgeous winter salad from Jules over at Merci Mama. With heavy Nordic influences – it’s got smoked trout, roasted beets, boiled potatoes, capers, dill, and a lemony buttermilk dressing – it will pack a flavorful punch and leave you completely satisfied.
6) Warm Roasted Potato and Bacon Salad from Eat, Love, and Be Happy
Bacon is a sure-fire way to make your salads appealing. Add roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, a touch of garlic, and a creamy dressing, like Monica of Eat, Love, and Be Happy has done, and you might even forget that you’re eating salad. While this one isn’t the healthiest of the bunch, as long as you eat all the arugula underneath that bacon-y goodness, we promise we won’t tell on you.
Pomegranates add a much-needed dose of color and sweetness to the palette of seasonal winter foods, and they really shine in this wintry meal from Josephine at A Tasty Love Story. Don’t let the raw kale frighten you off – it’s finely chopped in a food processor and marinated in a balsamic and honey-mustard dressing, making it easy to eat – and enjoy! Thinly sliced apples and almonds roasted in balsamic add bulk and crunch to this super-healthy choice.
Adding starch to a salad to bulk it up can feel a little like cheating if you’re on a strict diet, but if you choose nutritious carbs such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, as Erin of Naturally Ella has done in this combination, we think it’s OK. This salad is super simple to put together, especially if you have leftover cooked grains such as brown rice or quinoa that you can quickly add. The bright honey-lime dressing offsets the rich sweetness of the paprika-roasted sweet potatoes and the starchiness of the grains.
When you massage raw kale with avocado and a little lemon juice, something kind of magic happens – the kale shrinks up, gets tender, and becomes coated with a lovely creamy dressing. Massaging your salad with bare hands sounds weird at first, but the results are so tasty that you’ll quickly get over it. Amanda from Pickles & Honey adds chopped carrots, olives, sprouts, goji berries, and cashews to the kale-avocado base, for a “superfood” salad with a wide range of textures and flavors. A big bowl of this will leave you full of energy!
Store bought rotisserie chicken can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly. Here, Jennifer from Mother Thyme tosses the shredded chicken meat with Greek yogurt, orange juice, and olive oil and uses it as the primary topping for a mixed greens salad. The other ingredients add sweetness and crunch – mandarin oranges play up the orange notes of the dressing, while almond slivers and coconut flakes provide some bite. A dollop of goat cheese tops it off!