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3 Hearty Main-Course Salad Recipes

With a little planning, a salad fits any occasion

AARP Food Expert Pam Anderson: 3 Main Course Salad Recipes

Revamp your personal chicken salad recipe with this flavorful dish. —

En español |When my daughter Maggy joined me on the 1,100-mile drive to move my parents from Florida to a care facility in Pennsylvania, she had a brilliant idea: passing roadside chain restaurants and eating hearty summer salads instead. We began the trip right off with one from her weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a lovely quinoa and broccoli assembly on a bed of lettuce. 

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We loved the salads so much, we decided to eat them for the whole trip. As we helped Mom and Dad move in, we skipped the facility's delicious but heavy meals and ate salads from veggies we bought at the local grocery store. On the way home, we even stuck to salads at those roadside restaurants.

But you don't have to hit the road to get your greens. Here are a few salads that eat like a meal:

Chicken Salad With Kidney Beans and Corn

Serves 4

For a little extra crunch in this hearty main course salad crumble in a few tortilla chips.

  • 1 pound (2 large) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved crosswise, to make 4 thin cutlets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, kernels frozen or fresh
  • 1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into medium dice and lightly salted
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • 6 cups mixed spring greens

Drizzle both sides of chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder; rub to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cutlets and cook, turning only once, until impressively brown and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total. Remove and set aside. When cooled slightly cut or pull chicken into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, place corn, beans, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro in a large bowl; add chicken along with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons lime juice; toss to coat again. Taste and adjust seasonings.

When ready to serve, lightly toss salad greens with remaining tablespoons of olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Squeeze in little lime juice; toss to coat again. Arrange a portion of greens on a plate, top with a portion of chicken salad and serve.

AARP Food Expert Pam Anderson: 3 Main Course Salad Recipes: Shrimp and Bean Salad

This Greek shrimp and white bean salad adds a Mediterranean flair to your meal. —

Greek Shrimp and White Bean Salad

Serves 4

If you can find Gulf shrimp for this hearty main-course salad, it's worth the effort and few extra bucks.

  • 12 ounces cooked shrimp, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cans small white beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium diced seedless cucumber, lightly sprinkled with salt
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, lightly sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarse
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Ground black pepper

Place shrimp, white beans, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, olives, red onion and oregano in a medium bowl. Add oil; toss to coat. Add vinegar and light sprinkling of pepper; toss to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Next: This meatless Cobb salad is vegetarian-friendly. »

AARP Food Expert Pam Anderson: 3 Main Course Salad Recipes: Cobb Salad

This meatless Cobb salad is a filling meal choice. —

Meatless Cobb

Serves 4

You will probably only use about half the dressing for this hearty main-course salad. Save the rest for another day.

Light Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/3 cup each: buttermilk, light sour cream or Greek yogurt, and low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Salad ingredients

  • 8 packed cups (about 8 ounces) prewashed mixed baby greens
  • 4 boiled eggs, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 whole avocado, cut into small dice
  • 4 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into small dice
  • 2 small tomatoes, cut into small dice and lightly salted
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled pita chips

Mix all dressing ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste, mashing some of the blue cheese into the dressing with the back of fork. (Can be covered and refrigerated for several days.)

Place salad greens in a large bowl. Arrange each salad ingredient — eggs, onions, avocado, mozzarella and tomatoes — in strips over salad greens (can be covered and refrigerated several hours ahead).

When ready to serve, drizzle salad with dressing to taste, add the pita chips. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

You may also like: 10 whole grain recipes that add a healthy punch.

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