I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not much of a salad person. I think a lot of people envision “healthy diets” being full of big salads and bean sprouts and tofu, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with those things, that’s not at all how we eat. Our definition of real food of course includes a variety of fresh organic greens, but also a lot of other things like whole grains and dairy and fruit and even locally-raised grass-fed cheeseburgers. :)
So when I recently caught myself craving a certain salad, which has never before happened in my 34 years, I of course felt compelled to share it with all our facebook fans. And I also asked them about their favorite salad combinations as well (below) because I’ve learned that not all salads are created equal.
Over are the days of somewhat soggy iceberg lettuce pieces topped with stale looking carrots and a side of highly processed salad dressing. If you start with some fresh greens and top them with the perfect mix of “accessories” I am learning that salads can actually be kind of good. And if we really come up with a super tasty combination of accessories my kids might even have a little salad, too. So here are some ideas to keep us all from getting burnt out…and as always leave any additional suggestions you might have in the comments below!
- Mixed greens with apples, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and olive oil (pictured above)…the salad that inspired this post!
Variations of this salad:
- Add dried cranberries, hold the blue cheese, and use a balsamic vinegar with the olive oil
- Add strawberries, use roasted pecans instead of walnuts, top with salmon and balsamic vinegar
- Gorgonzola or feta cheese instead of blue cheese
- Pears instead of apples
- Add grilled chicken
- Spinach with hard boiled egg, bacon, avocado, and a warm bacon dressing (with our without blue cheese)
- Mixed greens, goat cheese, glazed pecans, locally-grown cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar
- Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing
- Spinach or mixed greens with apples, walnuts, feta or asiago cheese, shredded carrots, avocado, raw garlic (sliced and diced very small) and sometimes some black, garbanzo, or kidney beans for more substance topped with olive oil and a little rice wine vinegar
- Shredded Napa cabbage, red cabbage, edamame, julienned carrots, cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro & any Asian style dressing
- Spinach, roasted beets, pears, goat cheese, toasted walnuts or pecans, and red onion all drizzled with olive oil and a nice citrus vinegar
- Baby spinach, chopped granny smith apples, dried cranberries, goat cheese and toasted pecans dressed with olive oil, raspberry vinegar and minced shallot
- Greens, strawberries, pecans, feta, and vinaigrette
- Mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, crumbled blue cheese, thinly sliced red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Arugula, shaved parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper
- Caprese salad (tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella) with pesto and balsamic vinegar (pictured)
- Mixed greens, feta, tomato, chickpeas (or white beans), carrots, olive oil and vinegar
- Spinach, cranberries, mandarin oranges, blue cheese, and candied walnuts
- Spinach, pears, dried cranberries, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and chicken (if you want meat) with oil and vinegar
- Mixed greens, cooked sliced beets, green or red onions, feta or goat cheese (I prefer goat) toasted walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- Broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, cheese (cubed small), green onion, cucumbers, bell peppers, and natural sunflower seeds tossed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar
- Arugula, shaved parmesan, good olive oil, and pine nuts
- Romaine, almond shavings, avocado, mandarin oranges, some whole wheat cork screw pasta with a honey & sesame oil dressing (with or without chicken)
- Spinach or mixed greens with honey roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, mushrooms, avocado and goat cheese
- Spinach salad with red bell pepper, carrots and cucumbers with home made maple vinaigrette
- Spinach, goat cheese, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pine nuts, and a poppy seed dressing
- Spinach, strawberries, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and a balsamic dressing
- Grilled chicken, roasted red and yellow peppers, grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over bib or romaine with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- Mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries with an apple cider vinaigrette
- Roasted pears and grapes over spinach with walnuts, goat cheese and a honey lemon dressing
- Greens, olives, tomatoes, red onion, and this Greek feta cheese dressing
- Mixed greens, shredded carrots, seedless cucumbers, avocado, hard boiled egg, walnuts, parmesan or asiago cheese, and bacon (sometimes chicken too) with maple balsamic vinaigrette
- Arugula, cherry tomatoes, Romano cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic
- Romaine tossed in a homemade lime dressing (lime juice, stone ground mustard and olive oil) and topped with taco seasoned ground meat cooked with minced onions and garlic, corn, black beans, avocado, black olives, a sprinkle of cheese and sour cream
- Mixed baby lettuce, purple onion, sliced navel oranges, avocados, toasted almonds, balsamic vinaigrette
- Spinach or salad greens topped with pistachios, goat cheese, pears & balsamic vinegar
- Taco salad (pictured)
44 thoughts on “33 Salad Ideas for Inspiration”
Our children really enjoy a plain greens salad with toasted wheat germ. They won’t even put dressing on it. Kooky kids :)
You make such delicious looking dishes! Thanks so much for sharing!
does anyone have a recipe for a sugar free thousand island or russian dressing??? I can’t find sugar free ketchup in the store :(
I made a salad last night that was yummy good. The original recipe calls for small shell pasta and I switched it out for whole wheat pasta. I also think broccoli would be good in place of the spinach and you can put in any kind of cheese that you prefer. There are only two of us so I cut the recipe in half.
1 lb. spiral or small shell whole wheat pasta
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
2 (10 oz) pkgs. frozen spinach
1 can black olives, drained
2 med. tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. finely chopped oregano
Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam spinach in just the water that clings to it for a few minutes in a tightly covered saucepan. Remove from the heat after the spinach wilts.
Toss the spinach with the pasta; top with tomatoes and olives.
Combine remaining ingredients (except Feta) for salad dressing and pour over the salad. Top with the crumbled feta cheese and serve.
My favorite right now is mixed greens, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds. Yum! Always looking for something different, though!
Do you dry your own cranberries or can you tell me what brand you have found that doesn’t include sugar?
Hi there. Here is an example: http://www.madeinnature.com/product/organic-cranberries/. ~Amy
I love the whole ideal of real foods. I often say we need to eat only what GOD gave us naturaly. I was looking for a easy recipe for italian dressing. Anyone have one. Thanks in advance.
Thank you for this list. I do like salads, but I am not too creative when it comes to food. So I buy greens and get bored. This is the best list of ideas I have seen.
My current favorite salad: baby spinach, romaine lettuce, hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, a little cheddar cheese, sprinkled with chia seeds and topped with a dressing of olive oil mixed with a little Frank’s hot sauce. Not sure how “good” hot sauce is for you, but it gives the salad a little kick and I’m only using a little bit. ;)
This is a great Salad List- I am a salad lover especially when made with extra virgin olive oil and real lemon juice Thanks for the hard work – Keep it up Wow!
I typically use olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salad, but I recently made some of your berry sauce to use with yogurt and my husband has been adding a little to his salad with the vinegar and oil! It’s really good!
I love this list!! There are many here that I would love to try! I see that there are several dressings listed though with no recipe link…..is there some place that I could find all of them? TIA
Hi Jen. There are a few in the recipe index: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-resources/recipe-index/ and some are included in the salad recipes. This might help, too: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/healthy-salad-dressing. ~Amy
Wow! What an incredible list! I love salads, but my family are not big fans. I’m sure to find some good ones to try on them here. Thanks for all of the hard work and great ideas!
I had a great salad at A16 in San Francisco- arugula, shaved Romano cheese, chopped dates, and toasted almonds with an olive oil/lemon juice vinaigrette.
1) Arugula, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, and dressing of choice. Also good with dried cranberries and/or tart apples. 2) Spinach, beets, cucumber, red onion, and feta with dressing of choice.
I am SO not a salad person either, and probably could not eat a salad as a main course, ever, but my favorite side salad lately has been: romaine lettuce, red onion, orange slices and a red wine vinegar, olive oil and honey dressing. Super easy and good!
Did thinly sliced fennel make the list? It’s sweet and crunchy. Great with chopped green onion, red cabbage, clementine segments and toasted almonds. Salads are a great way to get in a couple servings of vegetables as well. And homemade dressing is the absolute best.
Thank you for posting this! I eat a salad everyday for lunch and need more variety! I might print this out and use it as part of my grocery shopping list!
I make my own seasoning mixes, Greek, Italian and ranch to name a few. When I go to dress my salad I add the oil and vinegar and then sprinkle the seasoning on top and mix it all together. For the ranch I like a mixture of buttermilk an sour cream ,no sugar. I add my ranch seasoning mix to the buttermilk/sour cream mixture. I keep a variety of flavored vinegars on hand, by changing up the ingredients you can have salad every night and never repeat the same salad twice. Salad like soup can be as simple as what you have in the refrigerator and a great way to use up left overs. I didn’t see the classic salad nicoise(sp?) a great way to use up green beans and boiled potatoes .
I love using walnut oil and pomegranate balsamic vinegar as an easy salad dressing. I just pour a bit of each right onto the salad and mix it up with tongs. (Start light on the balsamic – you can always add more!) It works really well with pink lady apples, spring greens, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Goat cheese is a great addition, too!
I started making a new salad dressing this week that was fantastic – a little olive oil, sesame oil, fresh chopped garlic, fresh lemon juice, splash of low sodium soy sauce, dash of curry powder, rosemary. The curry powder totally makes it!
My favourite salad is arugula with pear slices, warm portabella mushrooms, shaved parmesean, and a light oil and vinegar dressing with a touch of honey and lemon. The mushrooms wilt the arugula a little bit, and it’s interesting to change up the typical salad with a bit of warmth.
Do you have recipes for other salad dressings … besides your ranch? Some kind of italian version or olive oil vinaigrette? Thanks :)
Hi Dana. Sorry, we don’t have official “recipes”. I often do olive oil, vinegar (either red or white wine), some dijon mustard, a little honey and some garlic, salt and pepper and that is pretty universal. You might want to give that a try. Jill
I just came across your blog today and I am now in love with it. I love love love salads because I dont care for most cooked vegtables. A salad I have recently started making and now suggest everyone in the entire world should eat right this second:
Run some fresh brussell sprouts through the food processor so they are shredded. Add some sliced strawberries, blue berries, parmesian cheese and Brianna’s Blush Wine vinagarette dressing. Amazing, and an excellent way to sneak some brussell sprouts into your kid’s dinner.
Romaine, pears, shaved Parmesan, and a raspberry vinagrette. Oh, so good.
I can’t tell you how many times I have finished a salad and thought ‘that was amazing’ so simple and so good
I love mixed greens, pears, pecans, goat cheese and green onions. With a little vinaigrette dressing…can eat it all the time. (and caprese salad is another huge favorite at our house!)
Having had a gastric bypass I can’t eat a great deal at any one time. Since my priority is protein I like to make a salad that is loaded with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cheese, sometimes chicken or bacon on a light bed of greens. Salad doesn’t have to be all greens! I’m so glad that you’re still experimenting Lisa!
Our children really enjoy a plain greens salad with toasted wheat germ. They won’t even put dressing on it. Kooky kids :)
I make a salad with chicken, glazed walnuts/pecans, dried cherries, and bleu cheese. I make my own dressing out of unsweetened apple sauce, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (is that Real?), and black cherry juice. It’s wonderful!
Yes, most mustards are pretty simple and “real!”
Our favorite â€œmain courseâ€ salad is: a mix of spinach, baby greens, and romaine, corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, black olives, red or green onion, red bell pepper, carrots, avocado, cilantro, a little cheese, topped with a few tortilla chips, grilled (or rotisserie) chicken and a chipotle cheddar dressing. I crave this salad often! Hold the chicken to make it a delicious side salad.
My favorite salad may sound crazy, but my favorite restaurant does it and I make it at home. It’s great! It’s called “West by God,” and it’s mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with blue cheese, sliced steak, toasted pecans, and FRENCH FRIES. I make my own baked fries at home: http://wp.me/p1n4yp-cZ and I also add dried cranberries to my salad. It’s great with homemade ranch dressing!
You can also make salad appetizing and healthy by mixing your favorite food into a salad, like chicken fingers, hamburger or even pizza pieces! Great post….I want some caprese salad right now!
I used to work for a woman cleaning her house. She would make me lunch every day. She often made me a tuna/ garbanzo bean salad. It sounds gross, but it was good!
That’s my favorite Greek dressing! Love it!
Thanks for linking to my Greek dressing recipe over at makandcheese :)
Lots of other great salad ideas on here we’ll be trying at home. More often that not we don’t get through the greens we buy before they start to go bad so these are good inspiration!
I’ve also just discovered a salad with very fine-cut curly kale, thinly sliced cabbage with a dressing of olive oil, and a combo of cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Play around with the dressing proportions until you get it to your liking. This is really good. I never liked curly kale because it never seems to break down, but when you chop or shred it finely, it’s just crunchy!
My family loves fresh romaine, shredded cheddar, black beans, tomato, red onion, avocado, bell pepper, corn, and homemade ranch dressing. The canivores in the family like to add grilled chicken breast. We call it Santa Fe Salad. Yum!
I also like cucumbers, thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers marinated in red wine vinegar with a splash of olive oil. Can add a little sweetener if you want, but I like it without.
with a little bit of fetta cheese(grilled chicken is an option too if not vegetarian).It is bulgarian “shopska salad”.