Lettuce, grilled, chicken, and a variety of vegetables on a blue platter

Create Your Own Main Dish Salad

Mix and match your favorite ingredients to bring new ideas to dinnertime while saving time and planning ahead.
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Course: Appetizer, Lunch & Dinner, Salad
Keyword: fruit, grain, protein, salad, vegetable
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Base- choose 1 or mix and match options

  • 4 cups lettuce or salad greens (arugula, spinach, spring greens, etc.)
  • 3 cups whole-wheat pasta
  • 3 cups brown rice, bulgur, farro, quinoa, or couscous
  • 3 cups cooked potatoes in chunks, regular or sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups whole-grain bread, torn into bite-sized pieces

Protein- choose 1 or mix and match options

  • 2 cups beans, cooked or canned
  • pound cooked ground meat (beef, game, turkey, etc.)
  • cups cooked meat, diced (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.)
  • 8 ounces canned fish or chicken
  • 1 pound cooked extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Fruits & Vegetables- choose 1 or mix and match options

  • 2 cups mixed vegetables, canned or frozen and cooked
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
  • 1 cup apple, pear, or orange pieces
  • ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced

Flavor- choose 1 or mix and match options

  • ½-1 cup onion, celery, and/or green pepper, diced
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 2-4 Tablespoons fresh herbs

Dressing- choose 1

  • 1 cup fat free or low-fat salad dressing

Toppings- - choose 1 or mix and match options

  • ¼ cup nuts, slivered or chopped
  • ¼ cup cheese, grated or crumbled (Parmesan, feta, cheddar, mozzarella, etc.)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange or lemon rind


  • Choose at least one ingredient from each category in the list above.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except dressing and toppings.
  • Divide between 4 smaller bowls.
  • Top with dressing and toppings.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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