10 Nutrient-Dense Salad Recipes

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, and Burrata

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Contrary to popular belief, eating a salad for lunch or dinner doesn’t have to translate to craving a “real” meal an hour later. Although greens like spinach, Romaine leaves, and arugula may not contain many calories on their own, hearty, nutritious toppings can create a salad that’s not only filling but healthy, too. When you want to eat well (but not go hungry) the right salad can be a great choice.

Looking to dress up your salad repertoire? Check out these 10 substantial choices that elevate salad from a side dish to the centerpiece of a meal.  

Un-Cobb Salad

Un-Cobb Salad

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

What, you may ask, is an un-Cobb salad? Whereas a traditional Cobb salad usually includes bacon, ham, and at least one type of cheese, Simply Recipes’ unique spin on the classic slims things down with lighter ingredients. This way, you still get the appealing visual of a chopped Cobb-style salad without the high saturated fat and calorie count.

In this easy recipe, you’ll find grilled chicken, mango, avocado, apple, and cranberries atop a bed of Romaine. Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette to finish things off.

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, and Burrata

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, and Burrata

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Burrata is an Italian cheese that combines mozzarella and cream. Its soft texture and mild flavor make a creamy complement to bolder ingredients in pastas, appetizers, and–of course—salads.

This summer-fresh arugula salad with tomatoes, corn, and burrata from Simply Recipes brings together the peppery bite of arugula, the zippy tang of tomatoes, and the soft, simple goodness of burrata. It’s an unforgettable combo that will garner oohs and aahs at any outdoor gathering.

Low-Carb Asian Chopped Salad with Garlic-Ginger Chicken

Low Carb Asian Chopped Salad With Garlic-Ginger Chicken

Verywell Fit / Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE

Going low-carb? Don’t miss this low-carb Asian chopped salad with garlic-ginger chicken from Verywell Fit. Its ingredient list may look a bit long, but every item on the list adds to a tangy dish that’s packed with crunch (and low on carbs)!

First, you’ll make a marinade for chicken out of sesame oil and antioxidant-rich fresh garlic and ginger. Then, while the chicken grills, you can get to work prepping the salad’s remaining ingredients—a blend of greens, veggies, and herbs. A simple homemade dressing is the final step toward a low-carb salad that’s restaurant-quality.

Spicy Shrimp with Avocado and Arugula Salad

Spicy Shrimp with Avocado and Arugula Salad

Serious Eats / Yasmin Fahr

This spicy shrimp with avocado and arugula salad from Serious Eats brings the heat! A kick of cayenne livens up each bite of sauteed shrimp. (Or substitute a Cajun spice blend if you like.) In your efforts to fire things up, just be sure not to overcook your shrimp—a mere one to two minutes in the pan will do, per side.

Despite the heat from spicy shrimp, this salad mostly keeps things cool in the kitchen with a no-cook base of arugula, tomatoes, basil, and avocado. Toss everything together, add a side of garlic bread or pita, and dinner is served.

Tofu and Kale Salad with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Miso-Tahini Dressing

Tofu and Kale Salad With Avocado, Grapefruit, and Miso-Tahini Dressing

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

If you’re a foodie, this tofu and kale salad with avocado, grapefruit, and miso-tahini dressing from Serious Eats might be your new favorite meal. (Or at least your favorite drool-worthy image to share on social media!) Unique ingredients like za’atar, tahini, and miso paste join forces to flavor a superfood salad packed with nutrients.

Start by pressing the moisture out of a block of tofu. (Removing tofu’s water content helps it get crispier as it cooks.) Get your tofu crackling in the sauté pan, then whisk up a paste of grapefruit juice, tahini, miso, lemon juice, and honey as a coating. Assemble with greens, grapefruit segments, and diced avocado.

Pear, Grape, and Feta Salad

Pear, Grape, and Feta Salad

Verywell Fit / Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD

Feta often gets paired with strawberries or citrus in salads, since its salty flavor is an excellent contrast to berries’ sweetness. But this pear, grape, and feta salad from Verywell Fit combines the Greek cheese with other fruits, too—creating delicious results!

A generous bed of spring mix provides a foundation for the pretty mixture of halved grapes, pear slices, feta, pecans, and a slightly sweet honeyed dressing. Want more oomph? Add grilled chicken or salmon for extra protein.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

The Spruce Eats / Anita Schecter

This Mediterranean chicken salad from The Spruce Eats channels some of the classic flavors you know and love in Mediterranean foods: black olives, crumbled feta, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Grilled chicken makes an appearance as a protein topper.

The best part is the marinade for the chicken is the same as the dressing for the salad. Make one batch and use it for both purposes.

Blood Orange and Quinoa Kale Salad

Blood Orange and Quinoa Kale Salad

Verywell Fit / Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN

Fruit, vegetable, grains, and dairy—this blood orange and quinoa kale salad from Verywell Fit has it all. Blood orange, kale, almonds, feta, and quinoa make this a well-balanced meal. When you have leftover quinoa, put it to good use here. It’s a shortcut that’ll get this dish on the table in only about 10 minutes.

This salad is meat-free as is, but make it vegan by nixing the feta cheese and subbing maple syrup for honey in the dressing.

Golden Beet and Pomegranate Salad

Golden Beet and Pomegranate Salad

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

Not a fan of red beets? Try their sunnier-colored cousin in this golden beet and pomegranate salad from Simply Recipes. (Some people find the flavor of golden beets less earthy and more palatable than the darker variety.) They shine in this autumn-on-a-plate salad.

To prep the beets, roast them in the oven until tender, then cover them with orange juice-based glaze. Once your beets are oven-roasted, they’ll join jewel-toned pomegranate nibs and feta atop arugula or butter lettuce leaves.

This salad works well as a light lunch or dinner, but consider steak strips or grilled tofu to up the protein and add a savory touch.

Roasted Chickpea and Kale Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Roasted-Chickpea and Kale Salad With Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Recipe

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

This roasted chickpea and kale salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette from Serious Eats proves that a salad doesn’t need meat to be filling. Made of entirely plant-based ingredients, it is full of healthy fats and plenty of protein. Spiced roasted chickpeas bring their crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside goodness to the mix along with curly kale, pine nuts, and a DIY sun-dried tomato dressing you’ll want to slather on everything.

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