Slotting salad night into my family's weekly meal plan did not come easy in my house. It was a slow-won battle, and the key was showing my husband the world of possibilities that are dinner salads, starting with the fact that really good ones are more than a big bowl of chopped raw vegetables.
Take some inspiration from these hearty, creative, and totally delicious recipes, and you'll have a lineup of dinner salads that you look forward to eating — and that will actually fill you up.
My favorite trick for making super-satisfying dinner salads is taking cues from some of my favorite takeout dishes, like Vietnamese noodle salad. This version starts with lemongrass and ginger marinated chicken, a tangle of rice noodles, a mess of crunchy vegetables and herbs, and an umami-rich dressing.
Serve it warm right after making it, or make all the components during your weekend meal prep and assemble it straight from the fridge. It's a salad that fits your schedule.
This salad turns a bag of humble carrots from vegetable workhorse into the shining star of this vegan dinner salad. Dusted with a blanket of coriander and roasted, they're partnered with my favorite herb-packed tahini dressing, warm chickpeas, and crunchy almonds. It takes a little more effort than simply chopping vegetables, but once you try it you'll see it's worth it.
Change up your next Taco Tuesday by serving this salad instead and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. At its core, this big bowl is simply a deconstructed shrimp taco. The base and toppings flip-flop, with crispy red cabbage dressed with a tangy cumin-spiked crema at the bottom of the bowl, loaded with smoky shrimp, and topped with plenty of crumbled tortilla chips.
It's really hard not to get excited about salad for dinner when the bowl is topped off with chunks of crispy, BBQ-slicked baked tofu. This salad is wholesome comfort at its finest, and my favorite way to get salad in my meal plan and still have a warm dinner. A duo of roasted broccoli and sweet potato wedges replace a bowl of raw vegetables, and the whole thing is finished off with a generous drizzle of yogurt ranch.
Want a guarantee your dinner salad is going to be filling? Make your salad a hybrid! In other words, a meal that's part salad and part something else. And this version is just as much for pasta-lovers as it is for anyone who wants a generous dose of greens.
You toss orzo with a few spoonfuls of Caesar dressing when it's still warm so soaks it up all the flavor, just like a pasta salad. Then you top every bowl with bite-sized pieces of lemon-kissed crispy chicken right before serving.