If the thought of salad for dinner is basically your version of a culinary wet blanket, we've got news for you. Your salad can be great again. Ditch the lettuce and transform what you think is just a skimpy starter to a dinner-worthy main course. Get funky with grains, experiment with proteins, and play with sweet and savory combinations. Your next salad is about to become so much more than a pile of mixed greens—plus we love that we can still fill up on nutrients without spending hours in the kitchen. Who's with us?

Vegetables

Photo: A Couple Cooks

Make your dinner look like a page out of a Martha Stewart cookbook (in just five minutes) with this beauty of a salad. If you’ve never tried peaches with burrata before, you’re in for one sweet (and savory) surprise.

Photo: Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

What's better than sweet roasted beets with zesty oranges? Maybe chocolate and peanut butter, but this is a close second. There are so many tastes and textures going on here between the nuts, the cheese, and the produce, you might not even want to bother with a dressing.

Photo: Minimalist Baker

A blend of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, and basil adds a peppy contrast to the simple grilled vegetables in this surprisingly filling meal. Thankfully, the dressing recipe yields more than you need for this salad—you’re going to want to drizzle the leftover stuff on pretty much everything.

Photo: Aberdeen's Kitchen

Cumin and chili pepper give this salad its Southwestern flair, which is basically the dream when combined with the sweet corn and mild potatoes. Enjoy it warm for a salad that hits the spot when you want something cozy and comforting. Serving it with a margarita is optional but highly recommended.

Photo: Lexi's Clean Kitchen

This salad gives you the entire first page of an Italian restaurant menu in one bowl. There’s plenty of raw produce (spiralized to look extra appetizing!), cubed cuts of meat, and fresh mozzarella, doused in a tangy olive oil dressing to bring it all together.

Photo: Every Last Bite

Charring the eggplant over a grill or gas stove makes the prep for this salad much faster than if you were to roast it in the oven. And don't worry, the rest of it comes together in a flash too: All it takes is a bit of chopping and tossing.

Photo: A Cedar Spoon

This salad’s got four ingredients, but mayo ain’t one of 'em! Instead it gets its creamy factor (and some filling protein) from low-fat yogurt, which goes perfectly with the crunch of the carrots and the bursts of sweetness from the chewy raisins.

Grains

Photo: Yuri Elkaim

If you're wondering what to do with that leftover quinoa, use it to bring this recipe together in less than 15 minutes. Pop open a can of black beans, dice up a mango, and whisk up a three-ingredient dressing. You know that burrito bowl you love ordering at your favorite Mexican restaurant? It just got one-upped.

Photo: Savory Tooth

If quinoa is giving your taste buds a serious case of the yawns, wake them up by using whole-grain couscous for a change. Not only is it fun to say, it’s also a tasty way to bring a bunch of raw veggies and black beans to life in this super simple salad.

Photo: Five Heart Home

Just when you thought the classic mozzarella and tomato combination couldn't get any better, this recipe adds orzo to the mix. That's your cue to shout, "YAAAS." It also helps to turn this classic recipe into a full meal. But really, it’s a reason to eat pasta, and that’s rarely a bad thing.

Photo: Lovely Little Kitchen

We probably had you at honey basil vinaigrette, but if you still need convincing, here you go: You're friends are going to be blown away by this sophisticated and nutritious take on pasta salad at your next picnic. It's a panful of whole-wheat pasta, veggies, and nuts. Plus a sweet and tangy vinaigrette replaces the mayo, and slices of roasted chicken add extra protein.

Photo: My Suburban Kitchen

If that saying “you eat with your eyes first,” is true, your eyeballs are in for a special treat. This salad is a visual feast of veggies, protein, and grains that come in purple, red, green, brown, and orange. There couldn’t be a more perfect word than “rainbow” to describe it.

Photo: Joyful Healthy Eats

Panzanella usually isn’t more than bread and tomatoes, but this version ups its veggie game by adding in bell peppers and summer squash for extra vitamin A. Grilling all the ingredients makes them taste even better—it’s like a deconstructed panini.

Photo: Vikalinka

Millet doesn’t get nearly enough love as it should for being the protein-rich, glucose-regulating grain that it is. Whether this salad is your first or 50th meal with millet, the unique mix of ingredients, such as avocado and figs, alongside the carb will definitely make it one to drool over.

Proteins

Photo: Midlife Croissant

Don’t be scared of the spice in this recipe—the Greek yogurt dressing and the shredded apple alongside the cabbage balance out the heat to make it a winning combination. Congratulations, you just brought excitement to the slaw situation at your next cookout.

Photo: Slim Sanity

Two cups of chopped walnuts bring this chicken salad to the next level with a generous dose of healthy fats, plus the perfect crunch that most chicken salads are missing. Tip for the time-saving cook: Use pre-cooked chicken to really make this meal a breeze.

Kelly's Ambitious Kitchen

Yes, eating raw asparagus is a real thing. In this case, shaved raw asparagus stalks create long, green ribbons that become the base of this salad. Topped with salmon, burrata or Parmesan (yes, cheese and fish can go together!) and pine nuts, it’s a simple but hearty dinner that comes together in 20 minutes flat.

Photo: Not Your Standard

Tofu’s often referred to as a “sponge,” since it easily absorbs whatever flavors you add to it. Here, it’s soaking up a peanut butter and tahini dressin, and getting tossed with veggies, quinoa, and almonds for a dinner that’s somewhere between a salad and stir-fry.

Photo: Simply Recipes

With its two main ingredients coming right from your pantry—canned tuna and beans—this is the dinner that comes to your rescue when you don’t have the time or energy to cook. Throw in whatever herbs and spices you have on hand to season it up. Who knew your next improv gig would be right in your own kitchen?

Photo: Healthier Steps

The tofu in this salad gets its addictive crunch from 30 minutes of baking instead of frying. While it’s doing its thing in the oven, chop up some veggies and whisk up a super-easy dressing—the result is an unbelievably healthy meal for insanely little effort.

Photo: The Healthy Maven

Swapping out mayo for Greek yogurt already sets this egg salad apart from what you see at a deli counter, but then there’s cucumber, olives, cumin, and oregano to really make it pop with Mediterranean flavors. Thanks to the added produce, it’s filling enough to eat on its own.

Beans & Lentils

Photo: Wendy Polisi

Lentils aren’t just for soup—they’re fantastic in salads too. Simply dress them with olive oil and lemon, then toss with grape tomatoes that have been roasted to taste extra sweet and juicy.

Photo: My Life Cookbook

From the strawberry-white bean pairing to the spicy kick of red onions and the refreshing burst of mint in every other bite, this salad is surprising, colorful, tasty… basically anything but boring.

Photo: The Nutrition Adventure

It takes fewer than 10 ingredients to turn humble ingredients like chickpeas and zucchini into a dinner-worthy salad. A dash each of chili garlic sauce and Parmesan cheese goes a long way, plus slicing zucchini into thick ribbons with a mandolin or peeler makes it that much more fun to eat.

Photo: Little Broken

The most important part of this recipe is also the easiest: Do nothing. Leaving the olive oil and herb-soaked beans and veggies alone overnight lets the flavors marinate so all you need to do is quickly add them together, wait, then eat.

Photo: Kitchen Treaty

This recipe takes a typical three bean salad out of its 1970s rut and gives it a modern-day nutritional update by throwing in vitamin-packed sweet potatoes, swapping out the sugar for unrefined maple syrup, and adding mustard for a tangy twist. Talk about an upgrade.

Photo: Keepin it Kind

If you can’t choose between bean or potato salad, make your decision easier by opting for both in this recipe. The oil-free, vegan basil-pesto dressing doesn’t just up the creativity element, it also makes the salad a satisfying evening meal thanks to the healthy fats from the nuts and hemp seeds.

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