If left to my own devices (and sporadic grocery shopping habits), I'd probably make some sort of lazy, one-pot pasta for dinner every night of the week.
But I live with a Weeknight Pasta Shamer.
I was surprised as anyone to learn that such a person existed. Nate first revealed his true colors on a date only a few months into our relationship, in response to my suggestion that we split both an order of rigatoni with mozzarella and a saucy, lamb-y maltagliati number.
"But it's Sunday," he'd said, muttering something vague about next-day sprightliness, and how he thinks it relates to vegetables and the like. "I'm having the grilled squash."
To my deep chagrin, this sort of Weeknight Pasta Shaming behavior has persisted over the years, no matter how many English peas I've thrown into pots of carbonara, or plant-based noodle alternatives I've ushered into his pantry.
Now that we share a kitchen and, for the most part, dinner schedule, we've had to find some common ground.
Enter: hearty salads. It's a category of dinner I define as largely vegetable-forward, with enough highly desirable bits (like, deeply roasted squash, cheesy breadcrumbs, bacon crisps) to make each bite like unwrapping a present.
Here are 12 top contenders:
This kale salad is basically a sandwich, minus the bread. It's full of salami, slices of crisp apple, grated cheese, and dried cranberries, and as if that weren't enough to pique your interest, it gets doused in a clever, nutty vinaigrette. Plus, it's even better the next day.
Buttery Bibb lettuce, roasted chicken, and tender fingerling potatoes join forces for a warm salad that tastes like getting a high-five from your oldest, wisest friend feels.
When cheesy sautéed Brussels sprouts get together with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and briny Castelvetrano olives, very good things happen. All in 20 minutes.
I dare you to find a bite you don't love in this radicchio Cobb. (Good luck—it has a crispy, seared chicken thigh, blue cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and a jammy egg. Oh, and bacon. So much bacon.)
Calling all of the spring veg! You're needed front and center in this comforting, egg-topped panzanella.
For the record, this buttermilk ranch dressing would make even an old shoe taste delicious—but it's especially good drizzled over an endive and thick-cut bacon salad.
All of avocado toast's best qualities—crusty bread, creamy avo, punchy lemon juice—now in salad form.
This pork larb is punchy, spicy, satisfying, and you're not going to want to share it.
This warm eggplant salad is equal parts comforting and refreshing (thanks, mint!).
I'd fight you over the crispy, smoky chorizo bits in this sausage-lentil salad, but fortunately for both of us, there are more than enough to go around.
All in favor of dressing every future piece of lettuce with this creamy avocado-and-yogurt dressing, plus a burrata topper? Aye times one million.
Grilled steak gets tossed with crunchy veg, and drizzled with a vinaigrette you'll want to drink straight.
What's your go-to hearty salad? Let us know in the comments!