Why is it that deciding on a side salad can be one of the trickiest tasks? Perhaps it’s the crazy number of options, the endless list of potential add-ins, and of course, matching salad dressing flavors with those of the other dishes. We say skip the endless search and instead master one of these simple, foolproof side salads recipes that go with every dish you can dream of.
One of the keys to making a side salad that complements a multitude of dishes is keeping it simple—which doesn’t have to mean tasteless. This kale salad sticks to the basics, but delicious ones at that: kale, lemon, Parmesan cheese, and sliced almonds. The trick to making it extra tasty: massaging those greens.
Simple and surprising? We love that this salad sticks to a handful of flavors but still manages to surprise and delight with the likes of olives and a punchy yet sweet apple cider vinaigrette. The butter lettuce adds creaminess and the bread crumbs add an unlikely crunch. Psst… you can even turn it into a main by adding a salmon filet or grilled chicken.
We say this often, but a few quality ingredients really can go a long way. This salad has only two main ingredients—lettuce and Parmesan cheese—and leaves the rest to the dressing (which is a mere five ingredients). Peppery arugula pairs perfectly with salty Parmesan, while the lemon and white wine vinegar dressing bring it all together. Versatile, easy-as-can-be, and incredibly satisfying.
Not all salads need lettuce. Take this cucumber salad, which is mixed with avocado, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and cracked black pepper. Great as is, or with add-ins like radishes or cherry tomatoes, this salad is a nice way to take a break from piles of greens. It’s also crazy addictive in the best kind of way.
This salad can be mixed and matched with a variety of ingredients, making it the perfect side dish to make last-minute. Simply top spring greens or butter lettuce with add-ins like chopped bell pepper, banana peppers, red onions, grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds, croutons (we love the homemade ones used in this recipe), and anything else you fancy, and lightly toss with the spiced vinaigrette.
Caesar salads can be tricky. Often super creamy, a bit too tart, overdressed, and topped with copious amounts of cheese (OK, that one isn’t so bad), they can be difficult salads to pair with equally flavorful mains. This recipe uses tahini for creaminess and roasted garlic chickpeas as stand-in croutons, giving it a subtler flavor that goes well with a wider variety of dishes. We also love the bite from Dijon mustard—one of our favorite secrets to good Caesars.
Ever been to an Italian restaurant and been more impressed by the side salad than the main? This salad does just that. With a smattering of toppings like artichoke, black olives, red onion, and hot peppers, it’s a great side to pair with, well, anything. If you want to make it a touch more filling, feel free to add shredded mozzarella or prosciutto.