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When does a salad become a "meal" unto itself?

For those of you who will eat a salad by itself as a meal (as opposed to a side or an appetizer), what for you makes a salad a meal?

Is it the addition of some sort of protein like fish or meat?
Or some sort of dairy product like cheese or eggs?
The addition of beans, or legumes?
Using some sort of nuts (like walnut, almonds, etc.)?
Some sort of starch like rice, pasta, or a grain?
Size and quantity?

Or is it simply a state of mind?

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  1. I was thinking, "When that's all I eat." But that sounds kind of snarky so I will go with the state of mind option. If. I have a salad out for a meal it usually does have meat or tuna but at home it is just my regular greens, herbs and whatever else I have. There is plenty of protien in my diet so I don't consider it a requirement for every meal.

    14 Replies
    1. re: calliope_nh

      I was thinking, "When that's all I eat."
      __________________________________

      I don't think that would've been snarky.

      But that answer, as valid as it is, sort of begs the question, right? I mean, when and what makes a salad "all that you eat"?

      1. re: ipsedixit

        In the summers I have a good size container garden with tons of cherry tomatoes, various lettuces and other greens, herbs and usually a few other small things. When it is hot and I am alone I often decide to take a bowl downstairs and fill it up. When back in the kitchen I do a quick chop to the herbs, add dressing and chow down. I might add some olives, croutons or cheese. I like the simplicity and ease of it. I don't think I have ever planned my shopping around a salad.

      2. re: calliope_nh

        I was thinking along the same lines. But yeah -- it's a meal when I make the decision to not have anything else.

        So it might be a small tomato and lettuce salad, or a couscous salad with tomatos, cucumbers, feta and grilled shrimp, or a party in a bowl bigger than my head with beans, protein, and big-ass croutons.

        "It depends".

        1. re: sunshine842

          2nd that, some days it's all I want.

          1. re: treb

            Third. My recent fave salad is easily a meal. Kale, Parm cheese 'crisps,' slightly garlicky vinaigrette with a poached egg on top.

                1. re: c oliver

                  thanks for that! Do I need to wear my "Eat More Kale" teeshirt while I eat it? :P

                  Poached egg on salad dressed with vinaigrette is one of my all-time favorites -- the dressing the two marry to make is fabulous.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Definitely wear that tee! I mainly learned to make the salad so I could order other things at the restaurant. Kale rocks :) (Gawd, did I actually say that?!?!?)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      You must have been into J.J. Kale back in the early '70s.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Still am. And it's "Cale" with a C.

                            1. re: bbqboy

                              Very sad. He has been one of my favorites for decades.

      3. Definitely something animal - be it hard-cooked egg, cheese, meat, poultry, or fish/seafood. I like adding beans to an entree salad, but those alone would not transform it from side to meal. Nor would nuts or starch.

        1. Oh my, using the "P" word!
          Ha!
          Yes, for me, the addition of a protein, yes, a protein, makes it a meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wyogal

            Oops. I must be a TV chef in my other life.

          2. When does a salad become a meal unto itself?

            When it has some kind of meat on it. Taco salad with lettuce, taco meat, shredded cheese, salsa and sour cream. Guacamole & fried flour tortilla chips on the side.

            Chicken Caesar salad with garlic bread. I like to have something crunchy on the side with my dinner salads.

            1. For me, if the salad is enough to fill me up, then it is a meal. Proteins such as poultry, meat or fish are obvious ways to make a salad substantial enough to be a meal (though a few bacon crumbles are not!). Cheese, nuts, or legumes also work, and do filling vegetables.

              I also like a salad to have a few layers of flavor and texture to make it interesting enough to consider as a meal.