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Top 10 Healthy, Tasty & Quick Salad Ideas with Recipes to Try

Top 10 Healthy, Tasty & Quick Salad Ideas with Recipes to Try

Salads are such a versatile food category. Warm. Cold. Side dish. Main dish. Colorful and bright with fresh ingredients, crunchy textures, and vibrant dressings. Seasonally rotated depending on ingredient availability or simply to keep things interesting and new, a salad, can go well beyond the classic simple pairing of crisp Iceberg lettuce with a few juicy vine ripened, red tomatoes (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with a classic). 

Browsing through beautiful imagery of pretty plated salads and reading the recipes can be quite inspiring. Remember, you can and should swap out those ingredients either you cannot eat or simply do not enjoy. 

When creating your own salad, swap out ingredients from similar categories to customize to your tastes and dietary needs.  Here are some general groupings to choose from to personalize your salad. 

The Base: 

Start with a leafy green as the foundation for most salads. Beyond iceberg lettuce consider: 

  • Romaine (try it grilled)
  • kale with the tough stem removed
  • spinach
  • bibb lettuce
  • arugula
  • raw shredded cabbage
  • shaved brussels sprouts 
  • microgreens 

Herbs: 

Add another layer of flavor by including: 

  • mint  
  • cilantro
  • parsley 
  • dill  
  • arugula
  • basil 

Raw for crunch: 

  • radicchio
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • cauliflower

Other greens: 

  • green beans
  • celery
  • green onion 
  • cucumber
  • broccoli 
  • sugar snap peas
  • asparagus

Cooked vegetables: 

  • corn
  • zucchini 
  • sweet potato
  • butternut squash 

Soft textures: 

  • avocado  
  • cheeses 
  • roasted beets

Beans: 

  • garbanzo
  • kidney
  • cannellini
  • black beans 

Fruits: 

  • strawberries  
  • blueberries 
  • black berries  
  • orange segments 
  • dehydrated cranberries 
  • pomegranate 
  • sliced apples 

Nuts: 

  • slivered almonds 
  • crushed walnuts  
  • pecans 
  • cashews 

Proteins: 

  • hardboiled egg 
  • ham  
  • turkey 
  • roast beef or slice steak  
  • grilled or crispy fried chicken  
  • shrimp chilled or cooked
  • tuna 

Toppings: 

  • fried onions 
  • croutons 
  • chopped bacon or prosciutto 
  • tortilla strips  

Grains: 

  • couscous 
  • farrow  
  • quinoa 
  • rice 

Pasta: 

Whole grain, gluten free in medium to small shapes like:  

  • ditalini 
  • farfalle  
  • small shells  
  • elbows   
  • tortellini 

Some Cooking Involved Salad Recipes

When adding certain proteins to salad, it is often inevitable that some cooking be done ahead of time. Typically, any cooked elements are recommended to cool before combining with the rest of the salad. This prevents the completed dish from wilting into soft mush from carry over heat. 

In some cases, the cooking involved is for one ingredient like roast shrimp or burgers. Yes, burgers in salad. 

Big M Burger Salad

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ head Iceberg lettuce 
  • chopped tomato 
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion 
  • 2 slices American cheese cut in strips. 
  •  Pickle – either chop ¼ dill pickle spear or add a few pickle chips. 
  • 1 burger broken into bite sized pieces. 
  • 2 tablespoons of Thousand Island dressing 
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds 

Directions: 

  1. Create a base in a bowl with lettuce. 
  2. Layer on tomato, onion, and pickles 
  3. Sprinkle burger pieces over the salad 
  4. Add strips of cheese. 
  5. Drizzle dressing across the salad then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and enjoy! 

Grilled Romaine Cesar Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, and split in half lengthwise (from core to tip) 
  • ¼ cup of olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste for grilling, more for complete and assembled salad. 
  • 1 cup of Croutons 
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese 
  • Cesar dressing 

Directions: 

  1. Heat grill 
  2. Prepare Romaine by using a pastry brush to lightly coat the outer leaves then sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  3. Grill lettuce until grill marks are visible and turn once to grill the other side. 
  4. Arrange grilled Romaine on a platter then drizzle with Cesar dressing. 
  5. Add croutons and sprinkle on parmesan cheese to taste. 

Roast Shrimp Caprese Orzo Salad 

Salad Ingredients: 

  • 1-pound, roasted shrimp that has cooled. 
  • 8 ounces of cooked orzo pasta 
  • 1 cup of chopped basil 
  • 12 ounces of marinated mozzarella balls 
  • ½ pound halved cherry tomatoes 
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice 
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 

Roast shrimp Ingredients: 

  • 1-pound raw, deveined shrimp (large or extra-large 26-35 shrimp per pound) 
  • ¼ cup of olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 
  2. Mix shrimp with olive oil on a roasting pan or cookie sheet then arrange in a single layer. 
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Roast for just five minutes – could be 4 – 6 , check for bright red tails and pink shrimp. 
  5. Set shrimp aside to cool. 

Salad Directions: 

  1. Combine cooled shrimp with orzo, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl. 
  2. Add olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Platter of Cobb Salad with Chicken

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sliced avocados  
  • 1-pound crispy bacon, crumbled. 
  • 3 hardboiled eggs sliced in half. 
  • 1 head of Iceberg lettuce – rinsed, dried, and chopped. 
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes rinsed and halved. 
  • ½ cup chunks of Bleu Cheese 
  • 1 diced cucumber  
  • 2 cups of roast chicken (roast using your favorite recipe or use store bought roast chicken for a no-cook version) 
  • Large platter 

Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing: 

  • ½ cup of olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic. 
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano 
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 

 Directions:

  1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or shake in a mason jar. 
  2. Place each individual ingredient in a section of the platter. When working with a rectangular-shaped platter consider columns while a circular dish could have each component placed in a pie shaped section. 
  3. Serve with dressing on the side. 

Roast Sweet Potato Salad with Quinoa and Black Beans 

Salad Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound cubed and roasted sweet potatoes  
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa 
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro 

Dressing Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cups of olive oil 
  • Juice of two limes 
  • 2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup 
  • 1 clove of minced garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Roast cubed sweet potatoes at 400 F for about 15 minutes on a roasting pan or sheet pan, turn potatoes and continue cooking an additional 10 minutes or until tender. 
  2. While potatoes roast, combine all dressing ingredients by shaking in a mason jar or whisking together in a small bowl. 
  3. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and serve warm or at room temperature. 

No Cooking Necessary Salad Recipes 

Kale Paired with Pear and Pecans Salad 

Salad Ingredients: 

  • ½ pound of kale – remove stems, rinse, and dry. 
  • ½ cup halved pecans 
  • 1 medium pear – sliced (or substitute one apple) 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 

Dressing Ingredients: 

  • ¼ cup of olive oil 
  • 2  tablespoons apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice. 
  • 1  tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 2  teaspoons honey 
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt 
  • black pepper to taste

 Directions: 

  1. Massage the kale in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil and Kosher salt, and set aside. 
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or shake in a small mason jar. 
  3. Add pecans and pear slices to kale and toss. 
  4. Pour dressing over salad and toss again to coat well.  

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing 

Ingredients: 

  • 5 ounces spinach or baby spinach, rinsed and dried. 
  • 2 cups of rinsed, hulled, and halved fresh strawberries 
  • 3 tablespoons of slivered almonds 

Dressing Ingredients: 

  • ¼ cup of olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar 
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds 

Directions: 

  1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or shake well in a mason jar. 
  2. Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Option to dress entire salad or serve individually with dressing on the side. 

One Step Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Ingredients: 

  • One pound shaved, raw Brussels sprouts. 
  • ½ cup pine nuts 
  • ½ cup dried cranberries 
  • ¼ cup of grated pecorino cheese 
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil 
  • ½ cup of fresh lemon juice 
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy! 

Vegetarian Friendly Taco Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1 – head of Iceberg lettuce, rinsed, dried, and chopped. 
  • 4 chopped tomatoes 
  • 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 4 ounces of drained and sliced black olives. 
  • ¼ cup of diced onion 
  • 2 cubed avocados  
  • 1 sliced Jalapeno pepper* (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro* (optional) 
  • Tortilla strips and sliced lime for garnish 

Dressing Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of sour cream 
  • 1 cup of salsa 
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning mix OR 
  • Mix your own taco seasoning mix using 1 tablespoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. ¼ teaspoon onion powder. ½ teaspoon paprika and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin. 

Directions: 

  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Garnish as desired. 
  2. Stir dressing ingredients together separately in a medium sized bowl and serve on the side. 

Tossed Italian Charcuterie Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce, cleaned, dried and chopped. 
  • ¼ cup of arugula 
  • ¼ pound marinated mozzarella balls 
  • ¼ pound cubed cured meat like salami, soppressata, pepperoni 
  • ¼ pound of marinated roasted red peppers 
  • ¼ pound of marinated mushrooms 
  • 2 tablespoons sliced olives (black, green, or both) 
  • One loaf of crusty Italian bread on the side 

Optional Ingredients: 

  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Juice of one lemon 
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions: 

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a big bowl. 
  2. Add a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Enjoy! 

These 10 easy recipe ideas can be served as side dishes, simple lunches, and delicious dinners. Keep in mind, all salads are versatile and easy to make just the way you like them with just a few tweeks. I bet you even help yourself to seconds! 

About The Author

Sharon MacGregor

Writing from her desk in New York, Sharon MacGregor is a contributing reporter, freelance writer, and blogger with a passion for human interest stories as well as meals shared with friends and family. Her blog, Fed Well includes recipes with upcoming tips to prepare foods for infants and toddlers, simple and seasonal cocktails, and easy modifications to create dishes respecting dietary restrictions including dairy and gluten intolerances. She loves entertaining for the ones she loves including her new grandbabies!

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