Healthy salad recipes have an unfair reputation for being a little boring at best, and unsatisfying at worst. That might have something to do with the fact that we sometimes treat salads like an obligation or punishment—something meh that we should eat to “be healthy,” rather than something we want to eat for both pleasure and nourishment.
In reality, a healthy salad can (and should!) be just as satisfying and enjoyable as your favorite sandwich or pasta—made with a textured mix of flavorful and nutritious ingredients you actually like. If you want your salad to be a filling meal (instead of a side or starter), go for a balance of carbs, protein, and fat in the form of veggies, grains, fruits, beans, legumes, cheese, meat, fish, eggs, plant-based proteins (like tofu), nuts, seeds, and oils, Abby Langer, Toronto-based R.D., previously wrote for SELF. Using a creative variety of hearty ingredients will ensure your salad provides you with enough energy and excitement to be a legit meal.
We rounded up 40 ideas for creating crave-worthy salads. These healthy salad recipes rely on an array of pantry staples and seasonal produce, and are largely substitution-friendly. (For instance, if you’re not a fan of kale, swap in another sturdy leafy green, like collard greens or Swiss chard; or if you’re out of quinoa, use whatever grain you do have on hand.) Many happen to be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free, or can be easily adapted to be so. And almost all are suitable for some degree of meal prep. (Just wait to add anything wet or warm, like dressing or hot croutons, until you’re actually ready to eat, in order to prevent unwanted sogginess.) You’ll be happy to have a salad you actually look forward to eating ready to go in the fridge.
A note about the word healthy here: We know that healthy is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being healthy, we’re primarily talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But it also depends on your preferences, your culture, what’s accessible to you, and so much more. We selected these recipes with those basic criteria in mind, while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.