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Let's talk lunch salads at work

There are tidbits of info in salad threads and work lunch threads around the board, but I'd like to try and pull things together.

I'm looking for salad recipes with a protein component to satisfy at lunch. It's been a while since I've made a full meal salad aside from rudimentary chicken and tuna salads. The more interesting the better, but I'd also appreciate well executed takes on the classics (for some reasons I always screw up steak salad). What are your favorites?

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  1. Chinese chicken salad...I think it's a recipe from Cook's.com that I used, and you can google it. If you don't find satisfactory results, post again and I can paraphrase
    Antipasto - greens with gardiniere, and a variety of Italian cold cuts and cheeses, julienned

    Today I made a quinoa and kidney bean salad (from the most recent issue of Rachael Ray's magazine)
    Chef salads- greens and whatever vegggies you want, topped with whatever cold cuts and cheeses you want
    cobb salad

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunflwrsdh

      chef salad...i agree...
      if im in a hurry..any greens..
      sliced chicken,ham,turkey,bacon..
      any protein u like ..or whats on sale at the deli..
      a little shredded cheese...
      and i like a nice french dressing...
      nice texas toast croutons...

      and if im in a really big hurry...7-11 usually has fresh salads ..to go...

    2. Peanut butter noodle salad, with a spicy asian-style PB dressing and any veggies/meats you like. I usually make mine with Trader Joe's sesame noodles, but have made it with just normal whole wheat spaghetti and extra dressing too and was equally as good. Here's a link to a Chow thread on this very style of salad (I don't have my recipe written down and would have to make it again to remember exactly how I do it haha): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/531715

      A great grain for lunch salads is wheatberries, usually with either some white beans and vegetables and a vinaigrette-style dressing or with dried fruit, nuts, scallions, and chicken (and blue cheese when I have it on hand, yum) with a mustard-based dressing.

      Lastly, chicken is a great addiion to a Waldorf-style salad.

      4 Replies
      1. re: GardenFresh

        Where are TJ's sesame noodles located ie fresh, or shelf packaged? Do you just add protein to them?

        1. re: lulou23

          They're fresh, in the chill case near the other sandwiches, fresh salads, etc. (at least at my store). I always add lots of veg, usually lightly blanched snow peas and carrots, scallions, and napa cabbage and protein if I have some leftover such as chicken breasts or pork tenderloin lying around. Since the noodles are flavored but not especially saucy, I make a peanut butter dressing with chunky PB, tamari, rice wine vinegar, siracha, sesame oil, and olive oil to dress the veg/protein.

        2. re: GardenFresh

          wait! help! I bought a huge bag of wheatberries and tried to use them to make pilaf and cold saldas...we were gas central at my house. it was awful! Does this not happen to everyone who eats 'em? Is there a way to avoid it? It was actually painful...and we eat a largely high-fiber diet with all whole-wheat breads and cereals and tons of fresh veg, beans, and fruit. Our guts are not wimpy!

          1. re: amyamelia

            Sorry to hear about that, doesn't sound fun. We've never had anything like that happen to us. I'm no expert so I won't even guess why that might have happened. One suggestion would be maybe to soak the berries for a few hours, changing the soaking water a couple times. They don't need to be soaked before being cooked, but maybe the soaking will help somehow?

        3. one way to jazz up your tuna salad is tuna in a tomato....delish!

          1 Reply
          1. re: LaLa

            Oooh, that sounds like inspiration of baked tomatoes with tuna in the stuffing.

          2. Can't wait for goodhealthgourmet to weigh in on this one!

            An interesting salad dressing always does it for me. One of my favorites is a lime/cumin vinaigrette I made up -- goes great on top of mixed greens with some chicken, black beans, cilantro, bell peppers, and whatever other veggies you like in your salad. Roasted peppers are great too.

            Lime Cumin Vinaigrette

            Juice of 3 large limes (about 1/3 C.)
            2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
            1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
            1/4 C. canola or vegetable oil
            1 Tbsp. agave syrup
            1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
            1/4 tsp. ground cumin
            1/8 tsp. sea salt

            1. Combine ingredients in a glass jar or other reusable container. Cover and shake to combine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: operagirl

              that dressing looks delightful! thanks ;-)

            2. I CAN"T WAIT to eat my lunch today. Mesclun greens, grilled salmon w spicy glaze, roasted asparagus, carmelized onions and balsamic vinaigrette.

              1 Reply
              1. re: shaebones

                Red chile rubbed chicken is a good trade for the salmon. And maybe a few roasted pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.

              2. I love steak salad with red onions, mozz balls and a balsamic vin. I also love pasta salad with ham, prov chees, tomato, zucchinin and any other veg you can think of mixed in. Black bean salad is very tasty esp with a little avacado. I have also been exploring different grains like quinoa and barley.

                1. - roasted beets, hard boiled egg, pickled asparagus and onion
                  - blue cheese, hard boiled egg, tomato, onion, pickles
                  - falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy pickled something and either a tahini or yogurt-based dressing
                  - roasted edename, corn and tomatoes with a balsamic dressing

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: odkaty

                    Ooh, dang! i think I just drooled on the keyboard. Thanks for the inspiration! Say, for roasting edamame..can you do that with frozen edamame? That's the form that I mostly find them in around here....

                    1. re: dingey

                      I normally start with frozen — just toss liberally with olive oil before sticking in the oven.

                      1. re: odkaty

                        EXCELLENT! Thanks for the tip. I've boiled 'em many a time and been reasonable happy with the results, but everything's better when roasted.

                  2. For many of the protein and mayo salads, I find a good dash of curry powder as well as some nuts for crunch make it an all together better lunch.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: escondido123

                      Right behind you on that one. Curried tuna, Make it with a mix of yogurt/mayo, curry powder, diced granny smith apples and currants. Yum.

                      1. re: Quine

                        Exactly my recipe though I throw in some nuts too.....cashews are my favorite though almonds are great too.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Toasted pine nuts are almost always added in ours. Just a touch of extra fat, protein goes a long ways.

                          1. re: JerryMe

                            try pistachios - they're great with the curry.

                        2. re: Quine

                          Try peaches in a chicken salad, or a little bit of peach preserves. Mmmm.

                          1. re: twilight goddess

                            Or, as I recently discovered when running low on groceries and ideas, chicken salad made with both curry powder and peach preserves. Actually it was E.D. Smith's Peach Mango Orange More Fruit Spread, which added another layer of flavor.

                      2. I regularly make a salad for work. In fact I routinely work out at lunch so protein is always something I am incorporating into my lunch whenever possible. I use a bag of the Italian salad blend, add a little shaved parmesan reggiano, bacon bits (just a little), sunflower seeds, salt, lots of pepper, and a shake or two of Supreme Salad seasoning. I take about 2-3 oz of grilled chicken in a separate container, so that I can heat that up, and then have hot grilled chicken in my salad. I use Ken's Fat Free Sun-Dried Tomato salad dressing. But honestly, I've occasionally forgotten to add dressing as the salad is so yummy by itself!!

                        1. How about Taco Salad? I make my version with ground turkey and add the usual taco topping suspects over romaine lettuce. Dressing is your favorite spicy or mild jarred salsa and non fat sour cream, for body. Sprinkle in some tortilla chips for texture, good stuff!

                          1. a few that i used to enjoy:

                            -sliced cabbage (lightly steamed, tossed with seasoned rice vinegar and chilled), topped with other veggies (steamed and chilled), and either broiled fish or chicken with a miso or teriyaki glaze
                            -couscous tosses with sundried tomatoes, tiny cocktail onions, currants, grape tomatoes, arugula, basil, lime juice, seasoned vinegar, a dash of olive oil, a dash of honey, and topped with rotisserie chicken (or tofu or fish)
                            -spinach, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, caramelized figs, goat or blue cheese, almonds or walnuts, protein of choice, with a balsamic vinegarette
                            -my ex's: wild greens, navy beans, caramelized and chilled sweet onions, diced ham, roasted garlic, and a thyme vinegarette
                            -hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, steamed and chilled cauliflower and green beans, tomatoes, roasted garlic, diced hard-boiled egg whites, dash of bragg's amino acids and white balsamic vinegar
                            -simplest- shredded lettuce, diced cucumber, diced tomatoes, chilled, par-cooked broccoli, diced hard boiled egg whites, lemon juice, bragg's amino acids, salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

                            1. Here's what i ate all last week for lunch (never got tired of it): Whole wheat couscous with dried cherries, toasted pine nuts, chopped cilantro, drizzle of good olive oil. at one point i added roasted brussels sprouts to the mix. unbelievably sweet and good with the couscous. this week i made it with black beans, but no cilantro because I was out, and am suffering for it. not as flavorful without that, or some, green. adding lots of garlic chili sauce and/or sriracha at lunchtime helps.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                Try it with chopped mint instead of, or in addition to, the cilantro. Or vary the nuts - toasted, crushed hazelnuts are my new favorite salad addition. Also, adding garbanzos for protein.

                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                  and/or quinoa! I also really like a quinoa salad lightly dressed in a lime vinaigrette with mango, black beans, green onions, the cilantro.... avocado!

                                2. tomorrow's work salad will be tonight's leftover dinner salad...sort of an adapted chicken cobb salad. Bed of baby greens, mixed with shredded carrots, topped with chopped hard-boiled eggs, shredded chicken, bacon, sliced red onion, shaved aged gouda, some fat free feta, some sliced strawberries, and bottled dressing of choice. Mine is Kraft reduced fat parmesan asiago balsamic viniagrette.

                                  1. There's a Spicy Cabbage & Chicken Salad in Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (Nguyen) that is great. It's chicken, red onion, green cabbage, carrot & cilantro, dressed with Thai chillies, garlic, fish sauce & rice vinegar (with salt & sugar). I bring the dressing separately & add it at the last minute.

                                    1. At the moment I'm really liking tuna and blanched broccoli tossed with home made hommus, a little celery, cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and a handful of nuts.

                                      1. a new one for me.... Made these for dinner last week and then found myself gobbling up the leftovers for lunch the next day. Mmm.

                                        Steamed Green Beans with Shallot Vinaigrette

                                        1 pound haricots verts (thin French green beans), or slender green beans trimmed
                                        6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                                        4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
                                        4 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
                                        1 big shallot, minced
                                        a few Tbsp slivered almonds

                                        Set the minced shallot in a bowl with the vinegar for five minutes.
                                        Steam the green beans in about 1/2 inch of water in a skillet or in a steamer.
                                        While the beans steam, whisk the mustard into the vinegar and shallot, and finally add the olive oil, whisking constantly. Toast up the almonds on a baking sheet at 375 for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through, OR toast in a dry heavy pan, keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn. Stir often until they are medium brown.

                                        Combine the dressing, green beans, and almonds. Mmmm. Leftovers are also equally delicious. Crrrr-unch~!

                                        1. I like tuna and chicken salads made with a high ratio of veggies, and avoiding the heaviness of mayo. For a meal in a bowl, I'll add in cooked cous-cous or soba.

                                          Tuna with chopped celery, onion, tomato, cucumber, olives, tossed with a mustardy vinagrette.

                                          Cold chicken with tomato, onion and cucumber, tossed with an Indian spiced yoghurt dressing.

                                          Chicken with apple, celery, onion and toasted walnuts, in a yoghurt dressing with some cumin and mustard and paprika.

                                          Chicken with celery, bamboo and lotus root, with a yoghurt dill dressing.

                                          Chicken with blanched snow peas or green beans, green onions, sliced red pepper, and noodles, tossed with an Asian dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil, and topped with sesame seeds.

                                          Chickpeas make a great hearty salad base. One of my favourite is chick-peas with thinly sliced onion and celery, chopped fresh tomato, fresh mint, and dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper add a bit of garlic.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                            do you make the Indian spiced yogurt dressing, and if so could i get the recipe, please?

                                            Great reminder on the chickpeas. Yes! Thank you. I may do them with a light tahini dressing... RE*constructed hommus. They might even be good with the sesame dressing that I use for my cold sesame noodle salad. I might try doing that exact recipe, but substituting the chickpeas for the noodles. Healthy! Yum!

                                            1. re: twilight goddess

                                              "Chickpeas make a great hearty salad base." YES. So, I made a delightful carb-free version of my sesame noodles --- no.noodles! I mixed up a big batch of my dressing and combined that with a sauteed red bell pepper, some lightly steamed broccoli florets, and some flash-sauteed garlic and ginger. Yummmm. Great crunch with the broccoli, and always the sauce is seductive. It just is.

                                              Since I usually sit by the fridge spooning up more and more sesame noodles, now I can do the same... relatively guilt-free! What a great way to celebrate the Solstice. This one would work well to an outdoor affair -- barbecue, picnic, gathering of friends for merry-making in the sunlight....

                                            2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                              tastesgood -- My sesame noodles are almost the same as yours. I add lightly steamed broccoli and the red peppers and green onion, like you, with a very similar dressing (mine has some tahini, an eensy bit of brown sugar). I flash sautee a little minced ginger and garlic and add that too.

                                              I like the chicken salads with fruit/nut and celery, and a mostly yogurt/a little mayo dressing. Favorites for the fruit -- peaches.

                                            3. Now that lettuce is available locally, I buy lettuces and arugula and make a salad with veggies and some protein, and a little jar of Frank Stitt's buttermilk vinaigrette.


                                              If I have time in the kitchen in the evening, I'll make up a spicy broth to boil some quickly defrosted shrimp, and boil some small potatoes and eggs. Then I have everything in the refrigerator to toss together in the a.m.



                                              Carrots -- sliced/chunks



                                              shrimp (or chick peas


                                              red peppers

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                                How do you prepare the spicy broth? Great idea...

                                                1. re: twilight goddess

                                                  to boil shrimp I prefer something more than plain water. I'll put into a saucepan of water: mustard seeds, couple crumbled up bay leaves, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and a few slices of lemon. I'll let that boil to release the flavors a bit before adding shrimp. And since I rarely plan ahead, I can let the water run over some frozen shrimp while I prepare the water. Or Old Bay seasoning would work. The shrimp do not seem to absorb a lot of flavor from the flavorings in the water, but to my way of thinking, I would rather have some flavors to add to the shrimp rather than the shrimp releasing all its flavors into plain water.

                                                  And p.s. marinated artichoke hearts and/or avocado is also yummy.

                                              2. Not sure if this has already been mentioned upthread - salade nicoise. I make a veg version sans tuna in summer when green beans are plentiful in the market. Steamed or roasted potatoes (love fingerlings here), steamed green beans or yellow wax beans, rinsed red or white onion, pitted olives, hard boiled eggs, lemon-coarse mustard-small clove of garlic dressing, chopped fresh basil.

                                                1. How did I NOT discover this thread before????? So many great suggestions and ideas and I'm salivating for my next salad......at work or at home!!!