Side Salad Recipes to Bring Your Meals to Life
It’s one of the most underrated dishes, but it has the ability to add texture, enhance flavour and instantly bring your plate to life. We’re talking about the humble side salad, something that is often an afterthought when cooking. But salad vegetables are a great way to balance out your meal, especially if you’re feeling a little indulgent. Whether it’s a summer terrine, a cheesy quiche, a pasta bake or a lovely tart, the right salad can help to boost the flavours while also adding more nutrients to your diet.
For healthy lunch recipes, such as couscous, pitta pockets or wholemeal wraps, salad is a fantastic accompaniment too. In fact, side salads pretty much go with anything and they aren’t as boring as you might think. Here are some side salad recipes to inspire you.
Kale and lemon vinaigrette salad
This is a simple yet sumptuous salad, perfect for injecting a bit of green into your food and loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and some omega-3 fatty acid. Kale isn’t a bad protein source either, with almost 3g of protein per single cup serving. That cup serving also only has 33 calories, making it the ideal veggie for weight loss.
Tossed with a zingy vinaigrette and some parmesan grated on top, it’s a lovely side dish to any pasta, rice, meat or pastry dish. It’s packed full of flavour and texture too, making it a little more exciting than your usual spinach or lettuce leaves. You can even make the vinaigrette in advance, as it will keep for three days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2 bunches of kale
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup sliced almonds
Dressing (makes ⅓ cup):
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ dijon mustard
- Ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, sugar and salt. Do this until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly. Do this until blended and add ground black pepper to taste. Toss together your kale leaves with some sliced almonds and the vinaigrette dressing. Top with more almonds and sprinkle some parmesan on top.
Romaine, chicory and orange salad
If you’re looking for a side salad that adds lots of crunch and texture to your dish, this recipe is a must-try. It’s a great way to add more fruit into your diet too. If you’re not much of a fruit eater, this is your chance to make the most out of your office fruit basket at lunchtime.
The sweetness and tartness of the orange adds a whole new dimension to the salad leaves, and the romaine and chicory add bite. At the same time, the orange segments bring a layer of moisture, making it a great pairing for steamed fish or chicken served without sauce. We think this side salad recipe is perfect for elevating just about any lunch sandwich, so it’s super versatile.
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 4 tsp sherry vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 orange (cut into segments)
- 1 small head of chicory (leaves separated)
- 1 small romaine heart (leaves separated)
- ¼ cup parsley
Whisk the oil, orange juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the sliced orange, chicory, romaine lettuce and parsley to the bowl, then toss with your hands until well coated. Use hands or slotted utensils to list the salad from the bowl ready for serving, leave any excess dressing. Add more pepper to taste.
Watermelon and pine nut salad
For your spring/summer lunchbox try this super easy and refreshing side salad recipe. The juicy watermelon is hydrating and healthy, and the pine nuts add a delicious crunch, while crumbled feta gives it a savoury finish. This yummy salad can be prepared in advance with the greens tossed in when you’re ready to serve.
- 3 cups watermelon (cubed)
- 6 cups of arugula
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup feta
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
To make the dressing, combine lemon juice, vinegar and salt in a bowl and whisk. Slowly add in the olive oil, whisking continuously until emulsified. Into your dressing, add the watermelon, pine nuts and arugula. Toss together to coat and crumble in some feta. If you are making in advance, add the arugula last.
Roasted mushroom and herb salad
For those colder days, nothing beats a warm salad. Healthy, full of vitamins and minerals, and also quite filling, a roasted mushroom salad is the ultimate comfort food. On its own it can be a full meal, or as a side salad it can be the earthy accompaniment to any meat or veggie dish.
The combined flavours of herbs and mushrooms is not only a great addition to your dining table, but it can also be a simple lunch snack served on of toast or alongside a pitta bread sarnie. There’s also great versatility with this side salad recipe. Choose button or chestnut mushrooms to keep it simple, portobello mushrooms for a meaty texture, or shitake and enoki mushrooms for an Asian twist.
- 300g mushrooms (mixed)
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
- 1 small bunch basil (chopped)
- 1 small bunch dill (chopped)
- 1 cup arugula
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). In a bowl, toss together mushrooms and olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms from the bowl to a baking tray and roast for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Toss halfway through to ensure even cooking. In the bowl that you used for the mushrooms, add vinegar and mustard into remaining oil and whisk well. Add more oil if needed or more vinegar to adjust taste. Once the mushrooms are cooked and cooled, transfer them to the bowl. Add parsley, basil, dill and arugula. Toss together before serving.