We get it. You’re a breakfast purist who believes salads should be reserved for lunch or a light dinner, and there’s no place for raw greens at the breakfast table.
After all, what makes breakfast is eggs, toast, bacon, and sweet concoctions like maple-drizzled buttermilk pancakes, right?
But there’s something to eating a salad first thing in the morning. Not only is it still true to the meaning of breakfast, aka first meal of the day, but there’s also ways to construct a breakfast salad that’s worthy of any purist’s plate.
Here’s why we’re leaning into the idea of breakfast’s newest trend: salads.
Look, this isn’t about convincing avocado toast lovers and green juicers who already stock their pantry with fresh vegetables and greens or turning your fridge into a forest. This is about reconsidering the idea that tossing a salad in the morning isn’t that hard — and that it’s a way to get your daily recommended amount of greens in.
After all, many breakfast staples, especially more convenient options, aren’t all about the veggies. But if mornings are about getting sh*t done, then why not start your day with a serving of raw vegetables?
It’s better to get it out of the way instead of sloughing through them at the end of the day. Plus, if greens get your gut moving, every chance to get in the 3–4 servings per day is a chance you’ll want to take.
Sure, they’re packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, but the benefits of these, such as reduced risk of heart disease or higher life expectancy with cancer, can feel quite invisible.
So let’s focus on the immediate results: fiber helps you poop and salads can make you feel pretty damn full until lunch. For people with morning meetings, just eating in the am can help you stay focused during presentations.
What about brunch, you say? In the case of weekend brunch, forget this tip. Brunch in that context is about fun and comfort and eating what makes you feel good with friends.
1. Breakfast salad with smoked trout and quinoa
This creation from Bon Appetit is our fancy breakfast salad version of a lox bagel, and we love it. Little Gem lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, tangy citrus, smoked trout, quinoa, and creamy Greek yogurt make for an addictive, protein-packed morning meal.
2. Kale salad with bacon and 7-minute egg
This breakfast salad includes morning favorites like crisp bacon and soft egg yolks with the health benefits of kale and heart-healthy fats.
3. Farro and coconut bacon breakfast salad
Farro is an underrated ancient grain that deserves a seat at your breakfast table. This breakfast salad’s star is the sweet-and-savory homemade coconut bacon.
4. Crunchy bread and fried egg breakfast salad
For the true breakfast purists, this salad is a deconstructed fried egg sandwich. Gorgeous greens, veggies, and healthy fats are topped with a glossy egg and toasty whole grain bread.
5. Sweet and savory breakfast salad
If you can’t decide between a sweet or savory breakfast, this salad is the best of both worlds. Plus, it’s loaded with all the goodies: avocado, hummus, fresh berries, hemp hearts, and toasted quinoa. And it’s egg-free for those who are allergic, or vegan.
Alright, not all of those might have looked good to you, but here’s the secret genius of a salad. It can, and should, be made up of only the foods you want to eat.
1. What’s for greens?
When it comes to your breakfast salad, concentrate on antioxidant-rich leafy greens. Kale, microgreens, and spinach are great choices. But don’t be afraid to mix it up, too. Add cabbage or romaine lettuce for crunch, arugula for a peppery kick, or try beet or turnip greens to limit food waste.
2. Keep full on protein
Include protein in your breakfast salad to boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full for longer. A great way to get your morning protein is from a breakfast favorite: eggs. Other common morning staples, like Greek yogurt, tofu, or bacon, also work great for breakfast salads.
3. Amp up the fiber with grains or beans
To boost the fiber in your salad even further, consider including grains or beans. Quinoa, farro, barley, or brown rice can make for a more filling breakfast salad. And crunchy roasted chickpeas are a perfect substitute for croutons.
4. Satisfy your stomach with natural fats
Fats from fruits, seeds, and oils will help fill you up. And by fruit we mean avocado. For the other options, nuts and seeds add a crunchy texture to your salad while extra virgin olive oil makes a perfect dressing. Want a creamy note? A dollop of hummus will do the trick.
5. Sweeten it up with fresh fruit
Don’t forget fruit! For a sweet and savory salad, top with pomegranate seeds, slices of citrus, mango, watermelon, berries, or more. You can also use fresh citrus juice or berries to create dressings, like this punchy citrus vinaigrette or this sweet summer raspberry salad dressing.
Experiment with different recipes, greens, and toppings as you go. Or better yet, make breakfast salads a thing with your friends and family. We find that greens can go rank fast, so if you don’t want to let them go to waste, why not share the joy?
Psst — while you may be inclined to avoid store-bought dressings or fried and refined toppings, we say go for it if that’s what makes your salad more enjoyable. In fact, a little goes a long way. If a tablespoon of ranch dressing over a bowl of crunchy kale or a little bit of bacon over arugula has you enjoying greens more than before, well, then that’s better than no salad at all.
Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Visit her on Instagram.