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Best Main Meal Salad

I'm having a girls' night on Thursday - and we've decided we want to make a dinner salad. Does anyone have any go-to recipes for a main meal salad?

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  1. I love this Seared Carpaccio of Beef with Roasted Baby Beets, Creamed Horseradish, Watercress and Parmesan from Jamie Oliver and have made it often, although it may be heartier than what you had in mind.


    1. Everybody loves crab louie. Shrimp stuffed avocado is another good one.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sharuf

        1. Salad Nicoise. But not everyone always like the tuna or ahi tuna. But fairly easy.

        2. Asian chicken salad. Mixed greens, baked chicken, citrus vinaigrette, mandarin oranges, almonds, snap peas....green/red peppers.

        3. I also really love the spinach/mixed green salad with thin sliced chicken, goat cheese, candied walnuts (you can buy these or make them yourself), strawberries, red onions and red onion. I've done it without the red onion too! It goes well with a glass of red or white and ciabatta with herb butter.

      2. Love Cobb Salad. I make mine at home with grilled chicken breast (I think a classic cobb uses smoked turkey). Romaine, hard boiled egg, diced tomato, bacon crumbles, diced avocado, the aforementioned chicken, and crumbled blue cheese. Served with a red wine vinaigrette, or homemade blue (bleu?) cheese, this is a filling and hearty main dish salad not for the faint of heart.

        Another good simple main dish salad is curried turkey or chicken salad served on a lightly dressed bed of simple greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. Components of the turkey/chicken salad are: roasted chicken or turkey cut into one-inch chunks; toasted slided or slivered almonds, golden raisins, thinly sliced scallions, chopped celery, and chopped apple. Toss all together with curry mayonnaise made this way: heat a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat until hot and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of good-quality fresh curry powder. Stir to form a paste, about 1 minute, until the mixture smokes a bit and becomes fragrant. Cool for five minutes, then mix with 2/3 cup mayonnaise.

        4 Replies
        1. re: janniecooks

          I cannot help but think of the "Trick or Treat" episode of Seinfeld every time I see Cobb salad on a menu (key part at 1:56):

          Here's a link to both the legend of the Cobb salad and the recipe:

          Have fun!

          1. re: janniecooks

            Janniecooks -

            I love cobb salads myself! There is a place in Minneapolis that has a too die for one! I love that it's not the greens on the bottom and everything on top.

            The restaurant brings it out in a pasta dish - a 3-4 oz portion of roasted organic chicken (pretty bare bones-I'm thinking salt and pepper and that is it)...SO tender it falls apart using a fork, next to it- a head of awesome butter bibb lettuce, next to that HUGE chunks of blue or gorgonzola (I'd use Shaft Blue, or D'Avergenue (sp) ), next to that chunks of lardon instead of the bacon for a saltier heartier texture, cherry tomatos next to that and diced avocado next to that. One hard boiled egg thin sliced over all ingredients. I like it because of presentation and the textures allow me to get a good bite in every forkful!

            1. re: snoboardbabe77

              I make my salad Nicoise with the ingredients separately presented on the plate, with thought given to the plating of each item and the resulting look of the whole.

              1. re: snoboardbabe77

                Oh my, that does sound good! But I must take exception to the use of butter lettuce--I think the mass and texture of the other ingredients really require a sturdy green like romaine. But otherwise, your description has me drooling and I'm thinking, maybe tonight it is time for another Cobb.

                When I make my own cobb salad, I sometimes compose the salad with each ingredient laid out in a eparate strip across the bed of greens, very lovely presentation, but most often for my DH and me I just build the salad with the greens on the bottom, then sprinkle on the greens each ingredient in this order: diced tomato, chopped egg, chopped bacon, diced avocado, warm diced chicken, and crumbled blue cheese.

            2. i love to grill some flank steak, cut thinly against the grain and serve on an arugula salad.

              3 Replies
              1. re: cassoulady

                Me too! Add to it some roasted potatoes, tomatoes, crumbled Stilton blue cheese and maybe even mix in some Romaine or bibb lettuce. A nice shallot/balsamic vinaigrette - mm, mm good. Kind of like the grown-up version of a Pittsburgh salad.

                1. re: cassoulady

                  yes with fresh pecorino and a really high quality balsamic. That is the perfect meal with crusty bread

                  1. re: Analisas mom

                    Agreed - I discovered a version by Rick Rodgers that I make all the time. Simple, healthy and tastes so good:


                2. Warm a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, grated ginger, and chopped dill & spring onion. Add cooked prawns (defrosted frozen ones are fine - this is a party night not fine dining). Leave in the fridge for a few hours (overnight is fine).

                  Just before you're ready serve, drain the prawns (doesnt matter if there's still bits clinging). Add them to mayo into which you've mixed a little Tabasco (or whatever).

                  I always plate this up - shedded cos lettuce on the plate (or iceberg at a pinch). Top this with the prawn mix. Scatter over some chopped black olives, more spring onion and tomato (skinned and deseeded). You might want some crusty bread with it.

                  1. sliced romaine hearts tossed with Trader Joe's fat free Asian dressing
                    toss with quartered strawberries and sliced chicken breasts

                    top with honey roasted peanuts


                    1. 2 choices come to mind:
                      A crispy duck breast over mesclun greens, sliced Belgium endive, hearts of palms and sliced strawberrys with a balsamic poppyseed vinaigrette OR
                      substitute grilled salmon for the duck breast. Good bottle of wine or champagne!

                      1. Here's one of my family's favorites for a noodle salad with Asian flavors. It's called Chinese Spaghetti Salad. I'm not at all certain where I got this recipe - it might have been on Chowhound! Dressing the pasta while it's warm with the sesame and soy sauce really makes a difference.

                        Dressing for pasta:
                        2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
                        4 teaspoons soy sauce

                        Dressing for salad (I usually double the quantities for this so there's extra to pass at the table):
                        ¼ cup chicken broth
                        3 tablespoons soy sauce
                        2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
                        1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
                        1 teaspoon dry mustard
                        1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
                        Chili oil to taste

                        1 pound spaghetti, cooked and kept warm
                        2 cups slivered cooked chicken breast
                        ½ pound snow peas, cut into 1” pieces, blanched then refreshed in cold water
                        2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼x1½-inch strips
                        2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
                        ¾ cup sliced scallions (include some green tops)
                        3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
                        2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

                        In a large bowl, combine the dressing for the pasta; add warm pasta and combine well.

                        In a small bowl or jar, combine the dressing for salad; set aside.

                        At serving time, toss the pasta with the salad dressing. Add all the salad ingredients and toss again.

                        1. Here's a link to another family favorite: Nigella Lawson's Roast Chicken Salad. It was published in the NY Times quite a while ago.


                          1. I do a Sambal Sutchi Chef's Salad. Sutchi is a.k.a. basa - an indonesian catfish. Sambal is the indonesian equivilent of salsa. The salad has spring greens plus blanched cauliflower and green beans, bean sprouts, tomato wedges and more...

                            1. Grilled chicken and vegetables (asparagus, corn, zucchini, baby yellow squash, red onion) tossed with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and avocado in a mustard vinaigrette.

                              1. 1. Thai beef salad
                                2. Salad Nicoise
                                3. Pasta salad with shredded chicken or smoked salmon

                                Need recipes?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I make something called Zydeco salad, based on one I used to get at Lucile's restaurant in Boulder, CO. Spring mix, smoked almonds, grilled mushrooms, cooked bulgur, feta, avocado and balsamic vin.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Oh, Thai beef salad sounds fantastic! Do you have recipe ideas?

                                    1. re: hangrygirl

                                      1. My favorite ... Penne and Steak (serves3 large servings)
                                      6 oz penne, 8 oz sirloin, 1/2 sundried in oil thin sliced, 3 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/4 cup beef broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 cup of thin sliced seedless cucumbers, 1 bunch of romaine rough chopped or you can use watercress which is really good or a mix of your favorite greens, s/p to taste

                                      Season the beef with a drizzle of olive oil, s/p and 1 teaspoon of the garlic and grill or pan grill until medium rare, let set and then thin slice. Cook the pasta and drain. Add the steak, tomatoes, cucumbers and pasta (pasta is served slightly warm in this dish) in a large bowl. Mix the lemon, soy, garlic remaining other teaspoon, ginger, beef broth, dijon and olive oil. Stir well and pour over the pasta. Then add in the lettuce and toss. A great salad

                                      2. Salad Nicoise

                                      3. Mexican Salad (add as much of each ingredient as you like)
                                      Romaine, 1 cup corn, 1 can black beans rinsed and drained, 1 red onion thin sliced, 1 avacado chopped, 1 red pepper chopped, a few spicy peppers, a lime cumin and honey cilantro vinaigrette. Top with grilled chicken (marinaded in cumin, garlic, lime juice, olive oil) chopped. Toss the salad and enjoy

                                      1. re: hangrygirl

                                        Thinly slice (sukiyaki style) a pound piece of beef tenderloin and dip into boiling water for 30 - 45 seconds at the most (or use cold roast beef sliced very thin). Make a dressing with the juice of one or two limes, 2 - 3 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar, finely chopped chiles ( to the heat you prefer). Arrange the meat slices on a plate or platter, top with 1/2 cup torn mint leaves, 1/4 cup chopped shallots (or red onion), some finely julienned ginger, and two green onions finely sliced. Add dressing. Refrigerate until serving. At serving top with a bit of torn cilantro, some sliced chiles, and 2 Tbsp raw toasted and then ground rice. Usually serve with slightly warm Lao sticky rice.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Looks like a good way to use up last night's leftover steak.

                                    2. Thanks so much for all the suggestions everyone - I'm overwhelmed and excited - everything sounds delicious - esp with a glass or three of wine! I'll report back on what we end up making.

                                      1. I'm a big fan of the warm shrimp salad in Bittman's How to Cook Everything. You can make it with scallops too. Super easy.

                                        Cook scallops or shrimp cut lengthwise in 1 1/2 tbs of peanut oil
                                        Whish together 1 1/2 tbs peanut oil, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs chopped shallot, salt and pepper

                                        Toss everything with mixed greens.

                                        1. A good Asian style sald I've been doing lately-

                                          mixed greens, bok choy, and sliced red peppers make the bulk. garnish with plum slices and slivered almonds.

                                          the dressing is dijon mustard, rice vinegar, olive oil, a touch of sesame oil, five spice, minced shallot or garlic,sri racha, and s+p. I don't measure any of it, I just add until the desired consistency is reached. it should be a little hot, a little nutty, and a little tangy.

                                          goes great with any protein, or you can add a bunch of walnuts to bulk it up.

                                          1. Here is another I love to make, and is also easy:

                                            ROAST CHICKEN SALAD

                                            Take a roast chicken from the market. Pull the meat off and shred it (and eat the skin while doing so, yum)

                                            Save the drippings and add them to your own homemade dressing. I make a simple itailian with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, shallots and salt and pepper. And the juice from the chicken.

                                            In a large bowl toss your favorite lettuce (I like to use at least some romaine for a good crunch), sliced red bell pepper, chopped scallions, halved cherry tomatoes, shredded manchego cheese (or a similar hard cheese), pumpkin seeds/pepitas (raw or roasted), diced avocado, the shredded chicken and the dressing.

                                            This is hearty and wonderful.

                                            1. There is a small local chain similar to Pluto's where you pick out the ingredients for your salad and it is tossed in a bowl in front of you. Some friends had a salad themed dinner party and were inspired by Jack's as they chose to make made to order Caesar salads. They had store bought dressing, homemade dressing with raw egg and optional anchovies, grilled shrimp and chicken, an array of croutons and cherry tomatoes from their garden. They purchased several big mixing bowls and had the guests pick out what they wanted in their salads and the hosts tossed the individual salads in the mixing bowls. It was interactive and fun.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                What a fun idea! Definitely one that can go in the bank for the future. That would be quite fun for pastas also, I should think.