Salad and I had a love/hate (okay, mostly hate) relationship for a really long time. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a meal my mother made that didn’t involve a side serving of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.
And though I made a good show of moving it around my plate, I rarely ever ate it. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized just how magical (yes, I said magical) a salad could be.
I was grabbing dinner with a few friends at the time and ordered a dish that had the distinct honor of coming with a starter salad. Anticipating the usual combo of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and carrots, what actually came to the table totally caught me by surprise.
Instead, I was presented with a bowl packed with arugula, romaine, crunchy Granny Smith apples, crumbly blue cheese and candied walnuts. It was by far the best salad I had ever eaten, and just writing about it now has me wishing I could hop on a train and go get myself another. Not only was it an amazing dish, it also taught me that salads can be more than a boring bowl of leafy greens.
I’ve been a salad-lover ever since and I truly believe you will be, too — once you give these creative, hearty and flavor-packed salads from Food Network a try.
Grilled Seafood Salad
If you’re looking for another excuse to fire up the grill before cooler weather sets in, this vibrant salad from Giada De Laurentiis is for you! Packed with grilled scallops and squid and bursting with spicy radicchio, peppery arugula, crunchy carrots, fiery bell peppers and white beans, this salad is the perfect way to end the summer on a flavorful note.
Spinach-Bacon Salad with Chicken
Whether you pack it as an afternoon lunch or dig into it after a long day at the office, bacon and spinach is a combo to satisfy all your cravings. You’ll cook your chicken breasts in bacon drippings to give them serious flavor and top the salad with salty pepitas and seedless red grapes for additional yumminess.
Buckwheat Noodle Salad
Who said salad can only be green? Bobby Flay uses a tasty mixture of ginger, honey, sugar, tamari, sesame oil and chili sauce to dress up the noodles in this oh-so-good-for-you dish.
Kale-Turkey Chopped Salad
Twenty-five minutes is all you need to make this elevated kale salad. To start, toss your kale in vinegar and salt to make it easier to chew. Next, add smoked turkey, chopped apple, crunchy red onion and roasted sunflower seeds, drizzling with a creamy blend of mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic and dill as you go.
Shrimp Fajita Salad
This deconstructed dish gives you the best of both worlds by turning everyone’s favorite Tex-Mex dinner into a healthy salad. You’ll use fajita seasoning to give your bell peppers and shrimp a bit of heat and lime juice and agave to give them a subtle sweetness. Serve with crispy tortillas and bright pico de gallo for the perfect meatless Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or…you get the point).
Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Eggs
Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this eggy salad combines roasted carrots, parsnips, and red onions with bacon, arugula, parsley and Parmesan to give you a satisfying dish in no time.
Roasted Vegetable-Steak Salad
Die-hard steak and potatoes fans won’t be able to get enough of this meaty salad. To start, you’ll toss onions, carrots, green beans and potatoes in mustard and olive oil and roast them in the oven until beautifully tender. You’ll then toss your steak in Italian seasoning and cook it in a skillet until medium rare. Slice the steak and toss it with vegetables and crisp romaine lettuce and thinly sliced endive for a restaurant-styled salad at home.