What do you think of when you hear the word "salad"? A handful of arugula taking a backseat to the real dinner? Or a wedge of iceberg drenched in blue cheese and bacon? Most of us know that salads are a key ingredient in a healthy, balanced diet, and that they don’t need to be boring or unsubstantial. Americans are not strangers to salad as a main course, but some of the classic offerings are due for some appetizing updates.
See also: Eat for a healthy heart.
As we get deeper into summer, main course salads can provide quick, easy and filling meals for lunch or dinner, giving cooks an opportunity to take a break from the oven and stove while still serving up a hearty and flavorful dish.
Based on traditional American main course salads, these recipes are pure nostalgia meets nouveau.
Smokin’ Chef’s Salad by Ken Haedrich
We know the chef’s salad as a mid-century convention, consisting of hard-boiled eggs, deli-style meats, tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese, presented on a bed of leafy lettuce. This updated version turns up the heat with roasted bell peppers, smoked cheddar and a creamy barbecue dressing.
Italian Cobb Salad by Frank Stitt
Another common main-dish salad, Cobb salad generally includes chopped salad greens, tomato, bacon, chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, avocado and Roquefort cheese. Invented in the 1930s at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, the signature dish was named for the restaurant’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb. This version takes the classic Cobb and gives it an upscale Italian makeover, beginning with a mix of endive, watercress and radicchio, substituting prosciutto for the bacon, and finishing the dish with a rich Gorgonzola dressing.
Crunchy Taco Salad by Sharon Crayton
This Mexican-inspired main course salad became popular in America in the 1960s, usually served in a fried flour tortilla filled with shredded iceberg, diced tomato, grated Cheddar, sour cream and taco meat. This satisfying meal salad replaces the Cheddar and sour cream with a little crumbled feta, while the avocado makes the spicy guacamole dressing smooth, creamy and full of good fats. Green cabbage, bell peppers, corn and beans round out this colorful dish.
Tuna, Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Salad by Leslie Revsin
Tuna salad always hits the spot, with that familiar combination of tuna, celery and mayonnaise. When you're craving the classic but looking for a grownup version, this Italian dish fits the bill: Tuna packed in olive oil combines with cannellini beans for a velvety smooth texture. While sun-dried tomatoes and fresh parsley or basil add more complex notes, lemon juice and chopped red onion keep the flavors close to home.