Take my Main Course Salad Challenge and lighten up your menu for spring ~ join me and eat a hearty healthy salad for dinner once a week!
Steak Pad Thai Salad
Does a nice crisp salad sound good to you all of a sudden? Your body is trying to tell you something, so listen up…
What’s my main course salad challenge?
It’s simple ~ I’m kicking off the start of spring this month by subbing out one dinner a week for a gorgeous main course salad, and I’m asking you to join me. You choose the day, I’ll supply you with all the inspo you’ll need to eat lightly and deliciously. You might just find yourself sticking with this plan month after month. Check the bottom of the post for links to all the main course salads posted during this challenge…
I’ll be sharing a new main course salad recipe every week. Be sure to subscribe to my email list because I’ll also be posting a sneak peek at the grocery list for new recipe in my Sunday emails. You can grab what you need to be ready to rock and roll during the week. These salads will do double duty as working lunches, too.
Grilled Chicken Greek Salad
We’re craving lighter, healthier fresher foods that will flush our system and revive us after the long winter. It’s our instinctive way of balancing out the heavier winter diet and getting ready for spring.
How is a main course salad different from a regular salad?
I define a main course salad as something that can stand in for a meal, specifically dinner. And that means a main course salad has some sort of protein component. This can be meat, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, or grains.
The myth of the complete protein
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to protein. Like the longstanding myth that some proteins are complete (animal proteins) while others (plant proteins) are not, and that you need to combine different plant proteins together, like grains and beans, for instance, in a meal to equal the quality of animal protein. But here’s the thing, complete and incomplete is not a useful way of looking at proteins, and it tends to devalue plant based foods over animal based foods at a time when we should be doing the opposite.
What is true: there are essential amino acids that make up all protein that the human body can use, and some foods, like meat and eggs, contain all of them, while other foods, like lentils and whole wheat, contain some but not all of them. Whether you get these amino acids from steak or tofu, these building blocks are the same. If you don’t eat any animal products (vegan) then you need to eat a variety of plant foods, including grains, nuts, seeds and legumes to assure you’re getting all the essential amino acids in your diet. It’s that simple.
What is a myth: that plant proteins are somehow of lesser quality, and aren’t usable by the body unless you combine them in certain combinations together in one meal. In the course of normal eating you will get all of the essential amino acids you need, and therefore all the protein you need, even if you eat a plant based diet, and there is no need to combine certain foods in any given meal.
In other words: hummus is the equal of filet mignon when it comes to protein (and in many ways a whole lot better for you.)
*read more about this interesting issue here.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
If you’re interested, here are the classic plant based pairings that combine to include all the essential amino acids. You can eat them together in a meal, or just include them in your daily diet. (via verywellfit):
Grains and legumes:
- Black beans and rice
- Pasta and peas
- Whole wheat bread and peanut butter
- Bean soup and crackers
Nuts and seeds plus legumes:
- Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts
- Hummus (chickpeas and tahini)
- Lentils and almonds
And there are some plant based foods that actually do contain all the essential amino acids, so they’re good to know about if you’re trying to eat less meat.
- soy (milk, beans, or tofu)
- amaranth (an ancient grain)
Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta
Chopped Salad with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
~ this is the classic main course salad, with protein galore! It’s filling and satisfying without weighing you down.
Grilled Salmon Salad with Spring Greens
~ produce starts to take on a whole new freshness in the grocery store this month, so it’s a great time to make a super colorful salad for dinner. Look for red ‘greens’ like radicchio, red endive, and red leaf lettuce to perk things up.
Thai Beef Salad
~ This salad redefines the notion of steak for dinner. A little meat goes a long way so you can splurge on the good stuff. Use your sharpest knife and slice the steak across the grain for super thin, tender slices.
Perfect Nicoise Salad
~ this classic main course salad is always a winner in my book. Treat yourself to some good oil packed tuna, and don’t forget the capers!
Wild Rice Bowl with Watercress and Hazelnuts
~ use black rice, black lentils, or red quinoa if you can’t get your hands on wild rice, but don’t substitute anything for the watercress, it’s to die for.
Blistered Corn and Asparagus Salad with Salmon
~ this salad was a huge hit with me, I could have gone on eating it for days. The satisfying combination of flavors was just wonderful. Most supermarkets sell packs of husked/trimmed ears, and that will stand in just fine until we can enjoy this with high season corn 🙂
Chopped Asparagus Salad (with tuna)
~ Even without the addition of some great canned tuna, this chopped asparagus salad could be a main course because the beans provide great protein.
Chinese Chicken Salad
~ this is another personal favorite of mine. I’m always a little bit disappointed in the Chinese chicken salads in restaurants, so I took it upon myself to create the ultimate version. Definitely take the extra minute to make those fried wontons strips, they’re amazing.
Poached Fish Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
~ this is a regular in our house, with different types of fish and greens on rotation. You can poach, pan fry, grill or bake your fish and lay it right on your salad, the combination of cool and warm is lovely.
Links to the Main Course Salads posted in this series:
Main course Salad #1 ~ Salmon Cobb Salad
Main Course Salad #2 ~ Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)
Main Course Salad #3 ~ Shrimp Taco Salad
Main Course Salad #4 ~ Chopped Chef Salad with Creamy Sweet Onion Dressing
Main Course Salad #5 ~ Burger Salad Bowl
Main Course Salad #6 ~ Great Island Curried Chicken Salad Plate
Main Course Salad #7 ~ Spring Salad with Eggs and Creamy Tarragon Dressing
Main Course Salad #8 ~ Mexican Fajita Steak Salad
Thanks for pinning!
Questions and Reviews
It looks so delicious and pictures are really fantastic. I appreciate 🙂
Main course salads are my favorite! I’m absolutely up for this challenge :).
Love your salad ideas. Freely admit I’m not much into leaves but love vegetable salads. With or without some sort of meat. Anything that doesn’t depend on leaves. Shall be trying a lot of these ideas. Like all the extra info you offer as well. Thanks Sue. Great post!
Thanks Mary, I’m glad you liked it 🙂
I eat salads with most dinners. My preference is to have the chicken or fish on the side ( just a quirk). I’m always looking for new ideas for a salad to change it up. I’m on!
I’m glad I could inspire you, I’ll be posting some goodies this month 🙂
These salads look amazing! Can’t wait to try them. I’ve pinned them all! Also now I am going to find your snacking cake that was on the video. Can’t wait to try that too! Thanks Sue, you post the most amazing recipes!!
If you do the main course salad challenge then you deserve a treat ~ here’s the cake: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/cold-chocolate-snacking-cake/
I’m in! And I love each and every gorgeous salad you posted here. I wish you could be my personal chef. These are the recipes I would request most often. PINNED