easy salad ideas

Here I offer 8 simple salad ideas (of the tossed green variety) that are perfect for people who don’t do much cooking. I am no chef, but I enjoy putting together fresh and healthy ingredients to make a tasty salad.

Let’s start with dressings:

  • As my daughter would say, a homemade dressing “elevates” the salad. My go-to for making a dressing is to keep good quality infused oils and vinegars on hand.  See if your community has a specialty store; if not, you can certainly find them online. (Try Olivin or The Olive Mill.) These stores/websites will even have suggested pairings ready for you, so all you have to do is decide what sounds good. You can go with either savory or sweet combinations. Right now I have a Meyer lemon olive oil and a fig balsamic in my pantry. They make a great dressing (or marinade). I like to use roughly equal portions of oil and vinegar (if anything, I include a bit more of the vinegar). There are also tons of great salad dressing recipes on Pinterest, so explore if you like. Usually, though, those recipes require more effort.
  • If you want to go with a store-bought dressing, check out the refrigerator section in the produce area. I’ve found good lemon vinaigrette, raspberry vinaigrette, blue cheese, and Caesar dressings there. In the condiments aisle of the store, look for Ken’s dressings. I always have the ranch on hand.

We can’t forget toppings: 

Nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or crunchy noodles add a nice texture. A sprinkle of crumbled or shredded cheese is always welcome (to me, at least).

Start with your favorite greens. I typically use a spinach/butter lettuce mix, but anything would work. You can’t go wrong with a nice romaine. 

My favorite salad variations (assuming you’ve already selected greens):

mixed veggie salad

Try green onions, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes (the ones still on the vine are amazing!), radishes, cucumber (I love the 4-packs of mini cucumbers!), avocado, celery, and carrots. Four or so of these ideas with greens and your favorite dressing will be delicious.

chef salad

Include chopped boiled eggs; peas (I just dump some frozen peas in a mesh colander and run warm water over them, and then let them drain); cherry tomatoes; avocado, shredded sharp cheddar; and chopped cooked chicken, ham, or turkey. Just about any dressing should work. Add some bread or crackers and you’ve got a great meal. (Thanks to Elaine on Seinfeld, I will forever think of this as a “big salad.”)

berry salad

Add whatever fresh berries you can find. I like to use a nice variety. Dried cranberries, nuts (pistachios, almonds, or pecans), and seeds work well in this salad. I always add cheese (gorgonzola, feta, or Parmesan). Suggested dressing: a sweet vinaigrette or honey mustard. Serve this with bread and grilled chicken or steak and you’re all set.

apple/pear salad

Use sliced apples or pears (toss with a little lemon or lime juice) with nuts (cashews). I think that dried cranberries and cheese (Parmesan or feta) are nice additions. Suggested dressing: a sweet vinaigrette.

black and blue salad

Include crumbled blue cheese, green onions, grilled cherry tomatoes, and grilled steak. Use your favorite cut of steak. We grill cherry tomatoes on a grill tray, adding it to the grill a few minutes before the steaks are done. Suggested dressing: ranch or blue cheese, depending on how much blue cheese you want in the dish.

salmon salad

Take some broccoli slaw (you might need to chop it a bit) and mix it with your greens for this salad. I like to include cucumber, green onion, and tomato. Then top it with a small salmon fillet and some toppers like nuts, seeds, or crunchy noodles. Suggested dressing: lemon, sesame, or mustard vinaigrette.

barbecue chicken salad

I like a base layer of greens and grilled chicken. Then drizzle with barbecue sauce (just a hint). Add chopped tomatoes, black beans, corn, bell pepper, avocado, and green onions. Drizzle with ranch dressing and top with shredded cheese.

taco salad

Try taco meat, sliced black olives, black beans, garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes, green onions, avocado, and shredded cheese. Serve with tortilla chips. Suggested dressing: catalina, ranch, or salsa.

What types of salads do you like?

I’ve included some suggestions in the list above which suit my preferences. Play with the ideas and find something you especially like.

I like for the fruits and veggies in the salad to be in nearly the same quantity as the greens. Load it up! I usually build a salad in layers so there’s no need for tossing (unless you’re applying the dressing at the last minute to the entire bowl).

For more great ideas, check out my food page.

Hopefully you’ve found some salad inspiration here. Make one tonight!

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