Five Recipes That Prove Salad Should Never be Just a Side Dish

February 25, 2024
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

In my opinion, there is no better meal than a salad. However, to many, this opinion warrants little merit. On the one hand, I think it is because restaurants and magazines have belittled salads, making them side dishes and add-ons to burgers, sandwiches, and steak. On the other hand, there is a popular argument that salads are only diet food and are not supposed to be enjoyed. Rather, they are something that people resort to when they can’t cook or when they need a calorie deficit. Nonetheless, there is no reason to be miserable and healthy — it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy creating new recipes for delicious salads.

The best recipes I’ve found come from social media where there’s a hub of fun, easy recipes that are more inclusive of proteins than your usual iceberg lettuce side salad. Listed below are five recipes that you need to make the most of your meals.

  1. La Scala Chopped Salad Dupe from @dailyhealthysalds on Instagram

This salad is one I’ve seen many times on TV; it is a Kardashian favourite from the restaurant La Scala and there are many adaptations all over the internet. It’s flavorful and full of different proteins. 


  1. Shredded iceberg lettuce
  2. Shredded romaine lettuce
  3. Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  4. Sliced Italian salami
  5. Shredded mozzarella cheese
  6. Dash of salt and pepper
  7. Dressing
    1. ⅓ cup of olive oil
    2. 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
    3. 2 cloves minced garlic
    4. 3 tsp dijon
    5. ⅓ cup grated pecorino romano

All I would say for this salad is to halve your iceberg and romaine for an equal ratio, and to make sure the chickpeas are rinsed. The dressing is pretty complicated so don’t feel bad about taking the easy route and add Italian dressing from the store instead. 

  1. Kale-Quinoa Greek Salad

This one is a personal favourite of mine that I love to make for an easy and quick dinner. I came up with it as an alternative to the famous Greek salad and have brought it along to many functions and family gatherings.


  1. Fresh chopped kale
  2. Quinoa
  3. Chopped red bell peppers
  4. Chopped cucumber
  5. Chopped carrots
  6. Chopped celery
  7. Crumbled feta
  8. French dressing (not going to lie, I don’t make my own dressing, but feel free)
  9. Optional: chicken or chickpeas as a source of protein

Honestly, making a salad doesn’t require many instructions; all I would say is that your kale-to-quinoa ratio matters. I prefer less quinoa, but it’s up to you. I would also say that straining your quinoa once cooked is important and the best advice I can give is to stick it in the fridge for a bit so it doesn’t heat up the rest of your salad. Once done, add your kale, quinoa, and vegetables into a bowl, crumble some feta on top, and if you wish add roasted chicken or chickpeas to complete it. At the end, pour a bit of French dressing overtop. I love this salad so much and I hope you do as well. 

3. Roasted broccoli and sweet potato quinoa salad from @nutsaboutgreens on Instagram

This salad is a great alternative to lettuce as a base, and is also vegan!


  1. Broccoli florets
  2. Sweet potato (diced)
  3. Quinoa
  4. Pine nuts
  5. Shredded kale
  6. Miso vinaigrette dressing
    1. 2 tbsp olive oil
    2. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    3. 1 tbsp miso paste
    4. 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

First, put the broccoli florets and the sweet potato on a baking sheet at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 mins with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper sprinkled on top. Cook your quinoa and make the miso vinaigrette by mixing the ingredients listed above together. After these steps are completed, add everything into a bowl and mix. The ratios are up to you but keep in mind the pine nuts are not meant to be used sparingly. Everything should be about a 1:1 ratio.

4. Caesar salad with a twist

This small twist on a conventional Caesar salad makes it more filling and more appetizing. 


  1. Rotini pasta
  2. Romaine lettuce (chopped)
  3. Chickpeas
  4. Parmesan cheese (thinly sliced)
  5. Optional: roasted chicken
  6. Caesar salad dressing

Quick and easy, this salad is a great way to include more protein and some pasta so that you don’t crave any carbs. I would make a conventional Caesar salad and then roast chickpeas with spices. Add the chickpeas in sparingly or as much as you want — you can always add chicken to mix and match proteins! I find roast chicken works best for this, and you can even find pre-roasted chicken at Tesco or Marks and Spencers. With the pasta, I boil it and then add a few pieces to your salad. Not enough to overpower the rest of the salad, but just half a cup or so. I would also slice a little bit of parmesan cheese over top and then mix it all together.

5. Salmon Couscous Salad with Feta Dressing from @dishingouthealth on Instagram

This salad is a great one if you’re looking for a way to add omega-3s to your dinner. 


  1. Couscous (follow instructions on packet)
  2. Roasted Salmon
  3. Cucumbers (sliced)
  4. Fresh herbs (your choice, but basil, cilantro and parsley are good choices)
  5. Lemon vinaigrette dressing
  6. Crumbled feta

First I would roast the salmon and add a honey glaze or something similar. Then I would cook the couscous and while you wait, cut up the cucumbers and chop the fresh herbs. I would get started on the lemon vinaigrette or just buy it (whatever works best) and crumble in a lot of feta. Then, once the salmon is ready, add it to the bowl and cut it into smaller pieces whilst adding the rest of the ingredients.

All the recipes above are great new dinner recipes (or lunch) that include parts of all the major food groups and have enough protein to make a good meal. Hopefully, you enjoy them as much as I do and realize that salad should never just be a side dish to your main, but the main event itself.

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