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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.

Shay Champion on 2.18.2010

These all look yummy! I think I could eat salads for lunch & dinner every single day!

Rebecca on 2.18.2010

Love the Ginger steak salad.

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Allison on 2.18.2010

Living in Phoenix I need all the main dish salads I can get. Perfect for summertime.

Sandy Ternyik on 2.18.2010

I am gonna have to go with the Ginger Steak Salad also! YUMMO!

Melissa on 2.18.2010

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Elizabeth on 2.18.2010

My favorite is the Oatmeal Pumpkin Raisin cookie. In fact when I need a goodie for an event at church, I make up this recipe as bar cookies. Works well and, in the event that there are leftovers, they freeze beautifully.
in the frozen South!

Linda S. plus 3 on 2.18.2010

chicken enchiladas

Melinda Neely on 2.18.2010

My husband is not big on dinner salads either. But I have found a cure! He took our little boy to Chuck E Cheese’s the night before and was craving something healthy. I made a steak salad that looked exactly like your first selection above, and he love it!

Sumiko on 2.18.2010

My favorite salad is spinach with a homemade sweet basil dressing, topped with sauteed Cajun shrimp. Oh yeah.

gjohnson on 2.18.2010

My husband and I are trying to eat healthier and making main dish salads is easier than cooking for two people. Loved the honey oatmeal bread. It goes good with a salad.

Megan McArdle on 2.18.2010

Main dish salads. I’m eating one right now! Combining the protein and leafy greans like the cavemen did!

Mary on 2.18.2010

I had the most amazing salad down in Florida one summer and this has inspired me to try to recreate it! It had grilled shrimp, feta, watermelon and some sort of vodka vinaigrette…I must experiment!

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goodlifeeats on 2.18.2010

Thank you for featuring my Quinoa Taco Salad! Lots of great recipes here today. :)

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soufflebombay on 2.18.2010

I DO love a hearty salad for a meal!
I also love to make salad bars for party’s and the guest seem to like it as well.
Thnaks for this post – 2 of those salads look right up my alley!
The Ginger Steak and the Chicken Apple!



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Erika (TK) on 2.18.2010

So glad everyone is enjoying the main dish salads! Does this mean I’m forgiven?

Ree, if you’re craving avocado, then don’t look here. Or, you can look, but only if you actually have the ingredients on hand.

I’m not immune to these posts, either. I had a steak salad last night, and am planning on making the bean salad or the slaw this weekend. Yay for main dish salads!

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mdvshutterbug on 2.18.2010

Thank you for focusing on this theme, Erika.

Main dish salads are common in my house because it is the quickest meal to put together after a long day at the office. The ingredients list depends on what is in my cupboard and my mood. I almost always include avocado and tomato though.

My current favorite salad is:
Mixed greens
Red onions
Crumbled bleu cheese
Vinaigrette dressing
I ordered it from a restaurant and had to recreate it at home.

I often use Penzey’s Recipe for vinaigrette.
Mix 1-2 tbs. of a dried seasoning mix in 2 tbs. of water, let it stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup of vinegar and ½ cup of olive oil. You can refrigerate if for up to a week. It is quite versatile since you can use different seasoning mixes and vinegars. It is equally as good with canola oil. Also, for a lighter vinaigrette you can reverse the measurements for the oil and vinegar.

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labellavita on 2.17.2010

“To Atone” is so true for what I need to do after indulging in rich food for Valentine’s Day. I don’t know where to start with these wonderful main dish salads that you have shared today. Natalie’s and Kelsey’s get my attention to begin with. Mmmmm! Thank you so much; this is going to help me stay on track on the good old diet (again!).

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Ree | The Pioneer Woman on 2.17.2010


That second salad looks particularly yummy tonight. I’m craving avocado!

Thanks for featuring my recipe, Erika. Don’t tell anyone I asked you to do it. Ha!

Just kidding.

I think.

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Gammaroobob on 2.17.2010

This category is probably my favorite – I usually stick with vegetable main dish salads we, too, as Smith Bites says “occasionally stray over to the dark side.” Only, and Only, if I can assert my food snobbery and find free range/organic meats….luckily they are to be found in our area, but try not to do that as often as my guy would like; but soooo good for you. Fixed one tonight I’ll post on TK later…

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callimakesdo on 2.17.2010

We love salad for dinner too. We often the California Pizza Kitchen Southwest Chicken Salad recipe, a Strawberry/Chicken with Gorgonzola and Chicken Milanese. I can’t wait to try Ree’s Ginger Steak Salad.

Ambry on 2.17.2010

We’ve done salad bar night with everyone’s favorite salad components: crispy & grilled chicken, tons of raw veggies[broc, zucchini, cukes, toms, cauliflower, etc], boiled egg, cheese, cashews, & whatever dressing you like.
It’s a fun buffet style meal, & you don’t feel [too] bad about going back for seconds!

SMITH BITES on 2.17.2010

Love main dish salads and try to include at least one during the week; we love veggies so most are vegetarian but we occasionally stray to over to the dark side!

Dandy on 2.17.2010

I have to admit we haven’t served a main dish salad in ages. I’m adding some ingredients to my shopping list now.

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t2nashville on 2.17.2010

Can I just say how much I love these “features” on the TK blog? I sometimes get overwhelmed while searching around for great recipes to try. With these features, someone else is doing that for me, and I get to try some great new recipes. Thank you, thank you for doing this!

ChristineM on 2.17.2010

I like to do salads as a main dish once in a while – your Ginger Steak one is excellent! I just made a Lentil Taco Salad one the other night, leftovers for lunch. Yum! I’m also a big fan of adding fruit to salads – apples, pears, berries….yum!

Linda M on 2.17.2010

I always have to have a salad with my meals. I also like to have salad as a meal. Gotta have chicken or shrimp, greens, cheese, carrots, tomato & vinagrette.

They are healthy and if done right can help with weight loss. A few months back, I was flat on my back for 3 weeks with an injury. I had family make up a big salad each morning and would eat half in the afternoon and finish at night. I dreaded the scales once I got vertical and voila – I had lost 8 pounds. Admittedly I only drank water and didn’t do much snacking. It just goes to show, if you eat right – you can lose weight lying on the sofa!

Margo/MS Hospitality on 2.17.2010

Main Dish Salads are a staple when Cute Husband is out of town. My absolute favorite is boiled shrimp with lemon and caper vinegrette on a bed of Romaine. I’ll be sure to check this category on TK.
You are forgiven for the chocolate post. LOL!

Karen on 2.17.2010

I wish, wish, wish I could serve main dish salads at home. I love them. Sometimes my husband will order one when we’re eating out, but if i served them at home I think I’d get “where’s dinner?”

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carolinagirl on 2.17.2010

We eat salads as a main dish more in the summer time. I do love a grilled chicken salad and could probably eat that every day! Can’t wait to try out some of the salad’s here on TK!

Shannon Mac on 2.17.2010

My new winter favorite main dish salad is Deb’s version ( of Michael Chiarello’s winter panzanella salad — it’s vegetarian and hearty, with roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and don’t forget the homemade croutons!

Abbie on 2.17.2010

Yum. The steak one looks really good.

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kitchenbeginnings on 2.17.2010

We always order salads when we eat out but never make them at home, I think we may be doing this backwards!

I cannot wait to make some of these!

Jamie on 2.17.2010

my friends think I’m crazy because I crave salads… they obviously haven’t tried any of the above dishes!

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Natalie | Perry's Plate on 2.17.2010

We love main dish salads! Only I’m still trying to convince my 2-year-old that lettuce is a good thing. She’s not sure what to do with it in her mouth.

Thanks for adding my recipe to your post!

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zenmasterlauren on 2.17.2010

By far one of my favorite things to eat—we try to have mega-salad day in our home at least once a week. I’m going to have to try these-delicious!

Amy from She Wears Many Hats (missamy) on 2.17.2010

That Ginger Steak Salad is one of our favorites now. Simple and definitely a flavor rainbow. Or maybe a flavor hurricane. So good.

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patiodaddio on 2.17.2010

Main dish salads?! Isn’t that an oxymoron? :-P