5 Unexpected Ways to Turn Salad into Dinner

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Our new book, Mighty Salads, will get you making and eating salad for dinner. No, really! It takes what’s traditionally a side dish and gives it a whole new look—something interesting bite after bite, something meal-worthy.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

Here are 5 of our favorite, most-used tips from the book:

1. Cook something!

Fire up the grill, turn on the stove, or heat the oven—you don’t expect one of these to be the first step of a salad recipe, but when you incorporate cooked foods you love (in Mighty Salads, you’ll find everything from roasted ‘taters to grilled lamb to fritters), you’ll pay a lot more attention to your salad.

Exhibit A, shown below at right—Grilled Steak & Tossed Salsa Verde Salad:

2. Put down a puddle.

You know to think about how to garnish the top of a salad, but what about under the salad? Pick out your biggest plate, spread a puddle of yogurt or crème fraîche, lay your salad on top, then swipe each bite through something creamy and luscious.

3. Forget the leaves.

On purpose! When you don’t let yourself fall back on your salad go-tos (for me, that’s arugula), your creative juices start kicking in. Why can’t the base of a salad be pita, melon, or slow-roasted duck? In Mighty Salads, we explored everything a salad could be—so much so, there’s a whole chapter devoted to meat salads. And potato salad, can in fact, be a meal. Just look at this sunny roasted number filled with walnuts, scallions, and a poached egg:

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Photo by James Ransom

4. Consider the dressing.

A dressing adds flavor, seasoning, and a requisite liquid to a salad, but it can also be an opportunity to amp the salad to main-dish status. Mighty Salads has a warm bacon vinaigrette, a melty cheese vinaigrette—even one made out of hard-boiled eggs!

5. When in doubt: bread, toast, crumbs.

When you’re struggling to sort out how a salad can fill you up, remember that bread likes to dive into the salad. How, though, is your chance to play. Cornbread croutons for a smoky collard green salad. Toasted rye bread crumbs for a mustardy, bacony kale salad. A chickpea salad balancing atop a toasty piece of bread. A pretzel panzanella.

Mighty Salads is out now! Get your copy here. Happy Salad-ing!

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