The utterance “I’m going to get a salad” often evinces visions of diets and other streaks of healthy eating. But, if you’re asking me, leafy greens and their accompaniments are anything but punishment. On the contrary, our favorite green salads emanate fresh vibrancy with every invigorating bite. Plus, when they’re enjoyed as a main dish, they bring a certain brightness to the main event. Next time you’re on the hunt for a side dish, think of these glorious side salad recipes for all kinds of leafy greens.
The key to a satisfying salad is balance, of flavor and of texture, and with her go-to recipe for Easy Greek Salad (pictured above), The Pioneer Woman hits that mark — and in only 20 speedy minutes.
When it comes to toppings, Ree looks to chopped cucumbers and juicy tomatoes to provide bright, cool tastes alongside fresh romaine, while crumbly feta promises welcome richness and subtle tang, and for a salty bite, she folds in briny Kalamata olives ahead of adding the vinaigrette. Follow her lead and whisk a pinch of sugar into the dressing; this will help mellow the otherwise bold flavors of the red wine vinegar and garlic. Just before serving, reach for a bit more feta, and add a final squeeze of lemon juice to wake up the salad with refreshing brightness.
We’re finally in the early days of strawberry season, which means it’s time to ditch those firm, dry, white-centered berries we know from winter and welcome in their place spring’s juicy, ruby-red beauties. While desserts like shortcakes, cheesecake and cupcakes are tried-and-true ways to put these sweet bites to work, savory favorites, too, are ideal for letting strawberries shine. If you’ve never before worked with strawberries in a non-dessert, try starting with a salad; you’ll be able to balance the fruit’s natural sugars with tangy, acidic flavors in the dressing and peppery greens, which means you won’t end up eating a too-sweet dish. Check out Food Network’s best-five strawberry salads below, each an easy-to-make pick that’s ready to eat in 25 minutes or fewer.
5. Strawberry and Mozzarella Salad — Think of this healthy 15-minute dish as a berry-focused take on a caprese. In place of traditional tomatoes there are bright strawberries instead, which pair well with the fragrant basil.
4. Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette — It takes just a few everyday ingredients and only five quick minutes to make Rachael Ray’s simple salad. The secret to guaranteeing bold strawberry flavor in her recipe is the strawberry jam featured in her dressing, plus a whole pint of the fresh fruit.
Forget everything you know to be true about tiny plates of overdressed lettuce — those are side salads, and perhaps boring ones at that. Loaded with fresh flavors, colorful ingredients, and plenty of crunchy and cheesy textures, these over-the-top salad recipes will bring greens out of the shadows and into the shining role of entree. Get Food Network’s best-ever main dish salads below — each is a hearty, satisfying meal worthy of the spotlight.
5. Chef’s Salad — A trio of deli meats, plus buttery Swiss cheese, cool avocado and juicy cherry tomatoes beef up a classic base of greens, which you can toss with a topping of your choice. How about shallot vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing?
4. Farro and Kale Salad — “It’s got a nutty texture and flavor to it,” Giada De Laurentiis says of the Italian grain she pairs with kale in her warm, citrus-dressed salad. For extra richness, she mixes crumbled goat cheese into this easy salad just before serving.
It’s no surprise that salads sometimes get a bad rap for being boring; after all, a plate of lettuce and a drizzle of dressing isn’t exactly a satisfying meal. The key to making a salad, especially a meatless one, hearty is layering flavors and textures. While traditional mixed greens are a go-to pick for lettuce, try swapping in arugula or endive to experiment with new tastes, then pair them with bold mix-ins like fresh vegetables and filling proteins, like eggs or nuts. When it comes to dressing, ditch the bottled stuff in favor of a DIY mixture — most vinaigrettes come together in mere minutes with ingredients you likely already have on hand.
Food Network Magazine’s Grapefruit-Arugula Salad (pictured above) is full of color and crunch, as it’s brimming with peppery greens, plus fresh celery and endive for a mix of crispness. While fresh grapefruit segments promise a refreshing bite, the next-level walnuts, baked with a cumin-brown sugar coating, offer a welcome smoky sweetness and a hefty crunch to round out the meal. Before serving, toss the salad with a creamy yogurt-based vinaigrette laced with lemon juice for even more citrus flavor.
Let’s talk lunch. There is no better time to think about packing a few weekday lunches than over the weekend. If you wait until Monday, the battle is already lost. But if you devote even just half an hour on Saturday or Sunday to prep some lettuce and a couple of interesting toppings, the entire week is just better.
It means that instead of snacking aimlessly throughout the day or spending way too much money on a takeout meal, you have a solid lunch to look forward to.
Come lunchtime, when all else fails you can nearly always count on a simple salad to save your midday meal. All it takes to pull off a winning recipe is bunch of fresh greens and a light dressing; anything beyond that is a bonus, but it surely helps to bulk up a salad with seasonal produce, hearty protein, and cheese for added sustenance and decadence. Make Rachael’s five-minute green salad with strawberries for a healthy recipe in a hurry; dig into Food Network Kitchen’s classic Greek Salad, packed with Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese and juicy cherry tomatoes; or try a top-rated spinach salad.
In just 15 quick minutes, Food Network Kitchen turns out a Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts (pictured above) that’s both good for you and deliciously satisfying. The star of this recipe is the flavor-packed vinaigrette, whisked together with sweet shallots and tangy Dijon mustard. Dress the greens with this simple mixture, and add crunchy walnuts and creamy goat cheese for texture and taste.
Mother’s Day is always a touch bittersweet for me because I live a country away from my own mom. I moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Ore., in my early 20s, intending to stay just a couple of years. Instead I made friends, went to grad school and eventually met my husband. As much as I miss the West Coast, Philly has become home.
So these days I celebrate Mother’s Day by packing up a box of goodies, shipping it to my mom and scheduling a Sunday morning Skype date so I can “be” there while she opens it up.
The distance doesn’t stop me from planning an imaginary Mother’s Day meal. (Other people play fantasy sports. I fantasy meal plan.) To start, I’d put out some softened chevre, a few baguette rounds and a jar of rhubarb chutney. The main event would be a roast chicken with lemon, and with it I’d serve Ina Garten’s White Bean and Arugula Salad, good crusty bread from a local bakery and some broiled asparagus.
Before you run in the opposite direction, we aren’t suggesting you eat a salad as your meal and call it a day. In fact, these green salads are sideshows for a reason. In between bites of something more substantial, they work as a nice recess, countering the heartier notes of your main dish with exciting freshness.
Fetch your salad tongs and the biggest bowl you can get your hands on. These recipes — and the homemade salad dressings that adorn them — stray far from the salad bar.
It may be a Simple Green Salad, but Food Network Magazine relies on uncomplicated ingredients that shine. All you need is a crunchy heart of romaine and Bibb lettuce along with a drizzle of lemon-mustard vinaigrette and a scattering of fresh chives.
At least once a week, I try to make something for dinner that helps me clear all the odd bits out of my produce drawers. During the colder months, I make huge pots of soup that serve as the basis of quick meals all week long. When the weather starts to warm up, however, I turn to salads to use a handful of mushrooms and the last skinny stalks of celery from the very center of the bunch.
No one really needs a recipe for this kind of use-it-up salad, but sometimes it’s nice to see how other people approach their clean-out-the-fridge meal. I can easily fall into a rut, so a little bit of outside inspiration is just plain nice.
This is where Jeff Mauro’s Garbage Salad and Champagne Vinaigrette comes in. It’s not a recipe that’s reinventing the wheel, but it does pull together a nice assortment of complementary flavors that are outside my regular, well-trod paths. The vegetable base is a motley collection of romaine, iceberg, carrots, celery, mushrooms and pepperoncini. The brain wave is that he also includes blue cheese, sliced deli turkey and oil-packed anchovies. That means there’s enough protein in that salad for it to pass for a full-on meal (at least in my house).
It’s good for Sunday afternoons or whenever your Weekender craving may strike.