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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.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

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

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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:

Staub Large Cast Iron Square Grill Pan and Press

Staub Large Cast Iron Square Grill Pan and Press

From $199
PRESALE Stamped Copy: Food52 Mighty Salads

PRESALE Stamped Copy: Food52 Mighty Salads

$23

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.

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Yogurt and Beet Salad in the Persian Manner

Yogurt and Beet Salad in the Persian Manner by shayma

Celadon Salad Plates (Set of 4)

Celadon Salad Plates (Set of 4)

$112

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:

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!

50 Dressings for Every Salad, Pantry & Whim

50 Dressings for Every Salad, Pantry & Whim by Ali Slagle

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Adopt an Olive Tree Gift Box + Subscription

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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.

Pretzel Panzanella

Pretzel Panzanella by Ali Slagle

Stamped Copy: Food52 Mighty Salads

Stamped Copy: Food52 Mighty Salads

From $23

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