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The Theme Is … Main Dish Salads!

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Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Ginger Steak Salad, from Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman)

To atone for all the sinful chocolate I inflicted on you last week, today we’ll talk about salads. Healthy, hearty, satisfying Main Dish Salads, like Ree’s Ginger Steak Salad pictured above. The kind that even some serious eaters might be willing to consider a full meal.

Main dish salads are a great meal option that tend to get overlooked, or relegated to “exclusively for ladies luncheons” status. Which is unfortunate, because a main dish salad has a lot going for it. It’s often a one-skillet meal (if at all), and most of it can be prepped ahead of time. Because of that, it can get thrown together in a flash, and you can easily change it up by simply changing the dressing. It’s also an all-food-groups-in-one meal, often including the protein, veggies, dairy (cheese), healthy oils, and sometimes fruit all in that one salad bowl (easy clean up, too!). It also covers almost all of the different tastes in the flavor rainbow: salty, sweet, savory, even bitter, creamy, tart, crunchy, and silky. (Those last two are more textural, but our flavor rainbow is friendly like that.)

Apparently, main dish salads also cause you to make up phrases like “flavor rainbow.”

So let’s look at some of the wonderful salads we have in Tasty Kitchen. There are lots of different ideas here, and hopefully you’ll find something that inspires you.

First, let’s look at this Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette from Natalie (Perry’s Plate). It has grilled chicken, cotija cheese, avocado, red onions, spicy-smoky chipotle, corn … help me, I might start talking about rainbows again!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette, from TK member Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate)

Or you can skip the usual salad greens altogether and use crunchy green vegetables instead! Like this Crunchy and Cold Bean Salad from jenmenke. She says that it keeps for several days in the refrigerator, and actually tastes better with age.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Crunchy and Cold Bean Salad, recipe submitted by TK member Jennie Menke)

I don’t know. I’m not sure this would last days in my house. I might end up sneaking a bite or two from the refrigerator every half hour or so.

Now, let’s say you have kids who are suspicious of anything that’s too … green. If so, The Noshery’s got just the salad for you. Here’s a Pecan Encrusted Chicken with Apple Salad and PB & Maple Dressing that just might be a hit with the entire family, kids and picky eaters included. It’s got crunchy chicken tenderloin, apples, carrots, maple syrup, and peanut butter.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Pecan Encrusted Chicken with Apple Salad and PB and Maple Dressing, recipe submitted by TK member Meseidy of The Noshery)

If you’re in the mood for something simple with Asian flavors, Kelsey Barnard shares her Oriental Chicken Slaw. Trust me. This is absolutely delicious. Light and crunchy, and full of wonderful flavor.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Oriental Chicken Slaw, recipe submitted by TK member Kelsey Barnard)

Of course, main dish salads don’t always have to include meat. Here’s a vegetarian Quinoa Taco Salad from goodlifeeats, using crunchy, nutty quinoa to put a healthy spin on the typical taco salad.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Main Dish Salads (Quinoa Taco Salad, recipe submitted by TK member Katie of Good Life Eats)

And there you have it! Those are just a handful of the great main dish salads you can find here.

So, where do main dish salads fit in your weekly menu? Do you wish you could serve them more often, but are afraid that might not go over well with everyone else in the family? (I’d be in that group.) Do you already have them in your regular lunch or dinner rotation? Do you have any favorite salad ingredients? (I like mine with a simple vinaigrette, a bit of cheese, something sweet like halved grapes or figs, and with a nice crunch from toasted walnuts, pecans, or cashews.)

Check out the Main Dish Salads category and see if something in there strikes your fancy. I hope you find some good ideas, or at the very least, let me off the hook for the chocolate overload last week.

I may have to find another way to make up for “flavor rainbow,” though. Stay tuned.



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Denise on 2.22.2010

I made this last night and it was Delicious. The dressing is perfect, it made 4 salads, and I could have made more but I saved some of the dressing for the tops. It was great. Thanks.

Marcia on 2.22.2010

I do a lot of salads in the summer, but not this time of the year. I guess the closest I came to a salad was dinner Sunday night–oven roasted thick asparagus with fresh grated cheese; the good stuff. Added a few roasted (with garlic and thyme) fingerling potatoes. Then, added cubed sirloin steak cut in strips (similar to MM favorite sandwich) with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and onions. No dressing needed–wait–yes it was melted butter. Mmm

Marie on 2.21.2010

A salad that tastes like dessert is the Chii’s carribean salad that I make frequently – sweet with a little jalapeno-add grilled chicken for the protein or serve without as a side. If you don’t have sesame oil, use 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. Balsamic can be used in place of cider vinegat

HoneyLime Dressing
1/4 cup grey poupon dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Pico De Gallo
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup spanish onion, diced
2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, seeded and
1 ; de-ribbed
2 teaspoon cilantro, finely minced
1 pinch salt
4 chicken breast halves,
1 ; boneless and skinless
1/2 cup teriyaki marinade
4 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped
4 cup green leaf lettuce, choppped
1 cup red cabbage, chopped
1 can pineapple chunks in juice,
1 ; drained (5.5 oz. can)
10 tortilla chips

Make the dressing by blending all the ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer. Cover and chill.

Make the Pico de Gallo by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

Marinate chicken in the teriyaki for at least 2 hours. You can use a resealable plastic bag for this. Put the chicken into the bag and pour in the marinade, then toss it into the fridge.

Prepare the barbecue or preheat a stovetop grill. Grill the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done.

Toss the lettuce and cabbage together, then divide the greens into 2 large individual-serving salad bowls.

Divide the pico de gallo and pour it in 2 even portions over the greens.

Divide the pineapple and sprinkle it on the salads.

Break the tortilla chips into large chunks and sprinkle half on each salad.

Slice the grilled chicken breasts into thin strips, and spread half the strips onto each salad.

Pour the dressing into 2 small bowls and serve with the salad

Maria on 2.19.2010

My favorite main dish salad is Ree’s Asian Noodle Salad – and for those who think the men in their lives won’t eat salad as a meal, I served this salad to my boyfriend & his 2 teenage sons and they scarfed it down, had seconds and thirds, and then wanted more for a snack later in the day. In fairness I did add grilled chicken to it :)

Sasha on 2.18.2010

The ginger steak salad looks good. I”d like to do Main Dish Salads, but it wouldn’t be enough for dh.