As someone who’s been (mostly) vegetarian for well over a decade now (since middle school!), I can’t count the number of times when I’ve been invited to a restaurant with a meat heavy menu only to be told, “But, it’s okay, they have salads!” My fellow vegetarians know how irritating this mostly well meaning statement can be because who wants to spend their money going out to eat only to order a sad salad most likely consisting of iceberg lettuce and sad, mealy tomatoes?
This is especially true when we know that we can just stay home and make our own beautiful, delicious salads from scratch. I would say most days I eat some form of salad for lunch and have begun to master the art of creating good, filling ones. Here are five of my go-to salad recipes that you can make for lunch or dinner.
creamy balsamic garden salad //
This one is really more about the dressing, so you can throw together whatever vegetables you like but I’m partial to dark lettuces as found in spring mix, halved cherry tomatoes, hemp or sesame seeds, cucumbers, and avocado. Top with the dressing which is made by blending together 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, then salt and pepper to taste.
butter lettuce with caramelized walnuts + green apples //
This one always makes me feel like i’m eating at a luxury hotel because it’s sort of a clean riff on the traditional Waldorf salad. Start with a base of butter lettuce, then top with diced apples, preferably green and caramelized walnuts. To make the walnuts, heat a pan over medium heat and add the amount of walnuts you want to use, maybe a handful. Drizzle maple syrup to lightly cover the walnuts, then heat and toss until they become candied. I recommend using Organic Girl’s White Cheddar dressing over this. It’s delicious and not nearly as bad as most dressings, which I tend to avoid.
gwyneth paltrow’s green goddess salad //
I’m obsessed with this recipe from Gwyneth’s book “It’s All Good”. It’s a big chopped salad with corn, chopped romaine, black beans, chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced scallions, and diced avocado topped with her insane Green Goddess dressing. To make the dressing, blend together 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or Vegenaise, 1/4 cup cilantro (which I omit because I hate cilantro), 2 chopped scallions, 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/2 green jalapeño, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of raw honey.
kale salad with lemon vinaigrette + shaved parmesan //
For a super easy, elegant salad, massage chopped kale with a little bit of olive oil then top with a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and crushed garlic. On top, shave a little bit of fresh parmesan. So, so good!
mediterranean cous-cous salad //
This isn’t the traditional salad as it’s not on a base of lettuce but I still consider it to be a form of salad. It’s inspired by a meal from the Kayla Itsines’ sweat app although hers used quinoa which I’m replacing with cous-cous. Prepare cous-cous according to box directions. Spread a can of drained chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil then top with dried thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Add chickpeas to cous-cous, then top with halved cherry tomatoes, hollowed out cucumber, and a little vinaigrette made by combining olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, more thyme, and a tiny bit of honey.