7 Quick Toppings That Turn Salad into Dinner

7 Quick Toppings That Turn Salad into Dinner

We like to eat salad for dinner, but we don't want to be hungry an hour later. There are plenty of main-dish salad recipes out there (we wrote about some of our favorites in this post), but often we want just a simple green salad — only we need one or two extra things to make it more hearty. Here are seven quick additions.

Obviously, you could add some shredded chicken to almost any salad and make it a filling meal. Our point here is to suggest things that might not need a lot of extra prep or cooking. Most keep it vegetarian, too, which might be your goal if you're going meatless for the night.

7 Salad Toppings to Turn Salad into Dinner

1. Leftover (or Fresh) Rice or Grains

We're not talking one of our grain salads that are primarily couscous, spelt, farro, etc. with vegetables thrown in. This is a lettuce-heavy salad with some grains tossed in as an accompaniment, like in our rice and mixed greens salad with dates, cashews, and chickpeas, above.

2. Beans

We had a very basic salad two nights ago — baby red-leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes, chives, and some canned white beans — and the beans made all the difference. It was a side-salad-turned-filling-dinner once they were added. This main course salad with beans and basil would be good, even without the grilled sausage.

3. Tuna

We've talked about tuna a lot this week, but it's a no-cook option that's quick and versatile.

4. A Hard- or Soft-Boiled Egg

Again, easy and versatile. We can't imagine many basic salads that wouldn't mesh well with an egg, and if you make a batch of hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week, you've got breakfast, snacks, and salad additions ready to go.

Make a Perfect Egg: How To Boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time

5. Leftover Pasta

Joanna's tortellini and spring vegetable salad was beautiful — and made from scratch. But if you have some pasta, cheese-filled or other, left over from another meal, toss it with your lettuce, vegetables, and a vinaigrette.

6. Bread

How about a panzanella? You don't have to get too heavy-handed with the bread, if you don't want to. Let the lettuce be the main ingredient, but toss in a few more hunks of bread than you would, say, if you were thinking croutons. We recommend toasting them lightly and tossing them separately with some vinaigrette, so they soften up a bit but still have some crunchy edges.

7. Olives

We find that olives are incredibly filling. They've got good fats and add some salty punch, too. This orange, olive, and fennel salad has become one of our favorites.

Nuts and cheese are always good, too, but we'll stop there. Your turn: What are your favorite things to throw into salad to make it more filling?

Get a Recipe: Big Green Salad with Shallots, Chicken, Smoked Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Updated from a post originally published 2012.

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