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15 Salads That Are Hearty Enough to Be the Main Course


Do you have your salad before the main course or after? Some people like to start their meals with a salad while others have it at the end as a palate cleanser or digestive. Either way is fine but here’s an idea – have salad as the main course. That’s right, salad can be the entrée.

A salad can be so much more than just lettuce and tomatoes. Salads can be hearty, filling, satisfying meals on their own. They can take advantage of the bounty of seasonal produce as well as other delicious ingredients like lentils, beans, tofu, and tempeh that all come together to make salads that belong in the center of the dinner table. Take a look at 7 Steps for Making Refreshing Summer Salads, 7 Tips for Making Satisfying Fall and Winter Salads and Think Salads are Just Lettuce? Here are 10 Summer Salads That Will Make You Think Again.

When it comes to dressing your salad, forget the bottled stuff. See 10 Creative and Delicious Ways to Flavor Raw Leafy Greens and 10 Ways to Make Amazing Salad Dressings for lots of homemade, tasty recipes and ideas. Here are 15 delicious salads that can definitely be served as the main course.

1. Buffalo Chickpea Caesar Salad

Buffalo Chickpea Caesar Salad [Vegan]

This Buffalo Chickpea Caesar Salad will satisfy your tummy and your taste buds. Sunflower seeds, when soaked and blended, are wonderfully creamy, light, and make a delicious Caesar dressing. The chickpeas are crisp and filling. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, nut free, and serves two generous entree salads.

2. Classic BLT Salad With Creamy Ranch and Chickpea Croutons

Classic BLT Salad With Creamy Ranch and Chickpea Croutons [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Classic BLT Salad is made with crispy romaine, tempeh bacon and a cool and creamy herb ranch dressing. It is then topped off with some garlic chickpea croutons for some extra protein. This will serve two people for an yummy entrée.

3. Summery Tofu Salad With Green Beans, Fresh Herbs, and Sesame Dressing

Summery Tofu Salad With Green Beans, Fresh Herbs, and Sesame Dressing [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Summery Tofu Salad is filled with the bright, fresh, tangy flavors of summer. With tofu, green beans, fresh herbs and a sesame dressing, this colorful Vietnamese-style salad is a great dish for a satisfying entrée.

4. Panzanella

Panzanella [Vegan]

Why have bread on the side of your salad when you can have it inside your salad? Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that is packed with fresh summer flavor, along with day-old bread. This salad is filled with lots of veggies, fresh herbs and a simple Italian dressing.

5. Bahn Mi Salad With Pickled Vegetables and Vietnamese Croutons

bahnmi-1200x797 (1)

A delicious Vietnamese sandwich now with more greens! This Banh Mi Salad has amazing pickled vegetables and Vietnamese croutons. This recipe serves two large salads and is vegan, protein-packed and nut-free with a gluten-free option available.

6. Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

Kale Caesar Pasta Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This is the new and improved not-so-classic Caesar salad made healthy, vegan and modernized with kale, pasta and a hemp seed dressing. After eating a bowl of this vegan Kale Caesar Pasta Salad, you’ll be happy and satisfied.

7. Blueberry, Chili, Balsamic Tempeh Over Spring Salad

Blueberry, Chili, Balsamic Tempeh Over Spring Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Spring Salad is filled with spinach and mixed greens. On top is tempeh flavored with blueberry, chili, and balsamic vinegar. With cranberries, avocado, and other veggies, this salad makes a delicious and complete meal.

8. Super Star Lentil Taco Salad


This Super Star Lentil Taco Salad has fresh tortillas topped with tomato-seasoned lentils and perfectly grilled chili-spiced veggies. Finished with sliced avocado or guacamole, some chopped cilantro or parsley and drizzles of hot sauce, this is a lovely meal.

9. Broccoli Salad With Quinoa, Scallions and Roasted Cashews

Broccoli Salad With Quinoa, Scallions and Roasted Cashews [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Broccoli can be an awesome side dish but this Broccoli Salad with Quinoa is definitely a main course. Topped with scallions and roasted cashews, this is a broccoli salad that’s all jazzed up.

10. Hearty Vegan Cobb Salad in Just Under 20 Minutes

Vegan Cobb Salad

This Vegan Cobb Salad is a great hearty salad for nights you want something a little indulgent with vegan bacon bits and avocado. Even if you make your own ranch dressing, it hits the table in under twenty minutes.

11. JumBowl Salad

JumBowl Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This JumBowl Salad is filled with everything that’s good for you. Almost all of the ingredients (except for the dressing and olives) are totally raw and organic. Filled with beautiful beets, zucchini, squash, leafy greens and seeds, this salad is a full meal.

12. Roasted Veggies With Buttery Garlic and Spinach Salad

Roasted-Veggies-With-Buttery-Garlic-and-Spinach-Salad--1200x800 (1)

It doesn’t get much simpler than this Spinach Salad when you want to prepare a wholesome, easy, delicious meal for yourself. This salad has oven-baked sweet potatoes, potatoes, eggplant and garlic, all topped off with tomatoes, sunflower seeds and bell peppers. Yum!

13. Kale Salad With Chili Lime Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Sriracha Vinaigrette

Kale Salad With Chili Lime Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Sriracha Vinaigrette [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Having a variety of ingredients makes any dish so much more interesting and fun. This Kale Salad has a lot of components but it is so worth it. The chili lime roasted butternut squash and garlic Sriracha vinaigrette complement each other perfectly.

14.  Caribbean Red Rice Salad With Chili-Apricot Dressing  

Caribbean Red Rice Salad With Chili- Apricot Dressing [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Red rice is nuttier and denser than brown rice and is high in antioxidants. This Caribbean Red Rice Salad with Chili-Apricot Dressing is bursting with slightly spicy and sweet flavors. Filled with fruits, nuts and avocado, this salad is filling and delicious.

15. Herb Tofu Caesar Salad With Spicy Pepitas

Herb Tofu Caesar Salad With Spicy Pepitas [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Herb Tofu Caesar Salad will become your new favorite salad entrée. Besides the herb croutons, the salad has cubes of baked herb tofu, an avocado Caesar dressing and spicy pepitas for garnish.

Salads can be made as light or as hearty as you want. Bulking up a salad with tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils and lots of different fruits and veggies makes for some of the most delicious and satisfying entrée salads.

Lead image source: Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

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