Ever eaten a salad and found yourself starving an hour later? While veggie- and greens-packed meals are great, sometimes no matter how high you stack your pile, salads just don’t do it. The solution: lots o’ protein—and healthy proteins at that. These nine protein-packed salads come in all shapes and sizes and will give your afternoon snack a run for its money.
Fun fact: You don’t have to eat meat to get plenty of protein. This salad sticks to vegan-friendly proteins like quinoa, chickpeas, and pistachios and gets its summery flavor from clementines, pomegranate, and fresh mint. We also love adding diced avocado for extra creaminess, healthy fat, and yup, protein.
It’s tricky business finding a salad that’s both light and filling, but this recipe pulls it off beautifully with a simple lemon dressing and protein from shrimp, eggs, and sliced avocado. Though we love how the crumbles of feta bring the flavors together, it’s equally as delicious (and Paleo-friendly!) without the cheese.
This is the perfect recipe to make for a summer barbeque and enjoy for days afterward. Filled with crunchy cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and corn, and made fiber- and protein-rich with quinoa and a three-bean trifecta (chickpeas, white beans, and green beans), this filling salad doesn’t even require lettuce. (Though it would taste delicious piled on a bed of arugula.)
It’s time to think outside the (salad) box. This recipe skips typical “salad” ingredients—like lettuce or heaping amounts of mayo—and keeps things simple with shredded chicken, avocado, red onion, and cilantro (so fresh and so green green). Scoop up the protein-packed goodness with butter leaf lettuce cups, wholesome crackers, or with a good old-fashioned fork.
One of our favorite meal-prep tricks is roasting loads of veggies on the weekend and enjoying them all week long in quinoa bowls, salads, scrambled eggs, and pretty much everything. Though this recipe is meat-free, it can be made extra-filling with grilled chicken, shrimp, or chopped nuts. We also recommend adding all kinds of extra veggies, like broccoli, squash, and asparagus.
We get it: Quinoa is a great salad add-in. But what about those who don’t care for quinoa or simply want to change things up? That’s where freekeh comes in. Nutty, full of protein, and a bit heartier than quinoa, freekeh is a great grain to add to your salad rotation. This recipe goes the extra (protein-packed) mile with a tahini-based dressing and chopped walnuts. And while we’re all about kale, it tastes great with spinach too.
One of the toughest things about salads is that they don’t store well—especially when they’re drenched in dressing. (Sad, soggy salad, anyone?) A pro tip: Skip the lettuce and opt for a grain-based salad like this Moroccan power salad. With a sturdy grain like quinoa, the flavor only gets better when it sits overnight. So make a big bowl, throw on some spinach or chopped red cabbage in the morning, and let that sunk-in flavor sink into your oh-so-happy taste buds.
Another great meat-free protein source: lentils. But this salad doesn’t stick to just one protein. It actually has five. Lentils, salmon, quinoa, feta cheese, and green beans combine with loads of greens (kale, broccoli, and parsley) to create a refreshing salad that won’t leave you hankering for seconds. Lightly drizzle with Sriracha for some heat and squeeze on a slice of lime for added zest.
This recipe reminds us more of a taco bowl than an actual salad. So if you find salads anything but exciting, this might be the perfect anti-salad salad for you. Made with sweet potato, black beans, quinoa, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and a slew of classic Mexican spices (like chili powder and smoked paprika), it tastes great on its own, nestled into corn tortillas, or stacked on fresh and crunchy romaine. And, naturally, it tastes great with avocado or a scoop of guac.