What to CookSalad

9 Satisfying Salads for Dinner Tonight—Even If You Just Have 5 Minutes

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When I say I work at Food52, 10/10 people ask me: “What’s your go-to meal?” But I don’t have a recipe I turn to time and time again. Instead, I find comfort in a whole category of dishes: salads.

No matter my mood or the state of my fridge, I can always find a way to make a salad. From refreshing, crunchy slaws to satisfying grain bowls with crispy roasted toppers, I experiment with textures and tastes. Sometimes, it’s a dish that involves ten different steps of toasting and boiling and grinding. On long, tiring days, though, I'm after speed and ease, and enlist the help of canned beans and a squeeze of lemon.

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Sure, I don’t have an exact recipe I can mindlessly turn to, but that’s because salads are down for improv. To show just how versatile they can be, I’ve gathered nine I can throw together in 5, 15, or 30 minutes.

If You Have 5 Minutes, Then You Can Make...

Black Bean with Mango and Chile Powder Salad
Black Bean with Mango and Chile Powder Salad

Sweet ripe mango gets welcome heat from a dash of chile powder—and heft from satisfying black beans. Don't have mango? Try this salad with pineapple, cantaloupe, or peaches instead.

Quick Balsamic Chickpea Salad
Quick Balsamic Chickpea Salad

Peppers, cucumbers, and chickpeas combine with creamy ricotta and quality balsamic vinegar to form a speedy, tasty bowl. Add leftover rotisserie chicken or an egg for extra oomph.

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Back-Pocket Canned Salad
Back-Pocket Canned Salad

All you really need for this meal is a can opener and a lemon. I've made it with with black-eyed beans or white beans and added almonds instead of pine nuts for extra crunch.

If You Have 15 Minutes, Then You Can Make...

Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers, Olives, and Feta
Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers, Olives, and Feta

The orzo only needs 10 minutes to boil, and (if you’re like me) it’s a great dish to clean out that jar of olives... or peppers or capers or whatever else is taking up space in the fridge.

Warm Garam Masala Chicken Salad with Naan Croutons
Warm Garam Masala Chicken Salad with Naan Croutons

Leftover chicken stars in this Indian-inspired salad. A quick pan-fry infuses the warm flavors of garam masala into toasty naan—or any other flatbread—and chickpeas.

Spring Radishes Salad in a Sour Cream and Yogurt Sauce
Spring Radishes Salad in a Sour Cream and Yogurt Sauce

Not all salads need lettuce. This crunchy, creamy combo welcomes spring produce like fresh dill, scallions, and radish tops. To bulk it up to full-meal status, serve it over grains like farro, bulgur, or wheat berries.

If You Have 30 Minutes, Then You Can Make...

Inside-Out Chinese Egg Roll Salad
Inside-Out Chinese Egg Roll Salad

This gem from EmilyC freshens up the flavors of an egg roll with shredded carrots and cabbage. (Don’t worry, she still keeps the crispy wrappers.) And if you'd rather not crisp up some bacon, edamame or tofu would be welcome additions.

Avocado Toast Salad
Avocado Toast Salad

Resurrect your stale bread with the panzanella treatment and classic brunch-time flavors. Dress with lemony, olive oily Greek yogurt or a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Strawberry and Quinoa Salad with Tarragon, Soft Goat’s Cheese and Poached Egg
Strawberry and Quinoa Salad with Tarragon, Soft Goat’s Cheese and Poached Egg

A bright, strawberry-studded salad that converted a salad-hating(!) member of our staff. Yes, it's that good. I don't always have goat cheese, so I've substituted with parmesan, feta, or (gasp!) sometimes skipped the cheese altogether.

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What's your best 5-minute salad? Share ideas and inspiration in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Weeknight Cooking, Dinner, Faster