Well, we fall somewhere in between the two thoughts. Salads can, indeed, be filling and satisfying and full of nuts and cheese and chunks of bacon. But they are, in their essence, a lighter way of eating since they offer us a vehicle for lots of vegetables.
Also, a little protein goes a long way with a salad. For example, in the photo above is a Flickr find of one of our all-time favorites: A thai beef salad. It looks pretty heavy on the beef, but imagine, if you will, half the amount of beef and a fuller bed of greens. Another tip? Add some whole grains to fill it out.
Same goes for cobb salad. Up the greens, add some citrus, make a lemon vinaigrette instead of a creamy one, and tone down the bacon. Still satisfying. Still salad.
For the reverse—salads below that are meatless—add a bit of chicken or a crumble of sausage to make it dinner.
Some options from the Kitchn:
• Cous Cous Salad with Winter Squash and Cranberries
• Warm Wheat Salad, or Reverse Tabbouleh
• Rice and Mixed Greens Salad with Dates, Cashews, and Chickpeas
• Weeknight Recipe: Panzanella
• Cool and Spicy Fish and Cucumber Salad
• Pumpernickel, Watercress, and Mushroom Bread Salad
• Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Squash, Persimmons, and Pecans
And from around the web:
• Cobb Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, from Gourmet
• Salmon and Green Bean Salad, from Cookstr
• Classic Tuna Nicoise Salad, from Emeril Lagasse
• Fregola Salad with Fresh Citrus and Red Onion, from Giada De Laurentiis
• Thai Beef Salad, from The New York Times
Related: Gallery: 11 Winter Salads to Eat Right Now