20 Protein-Packed Salads
Tortellini, Chicken, and Arugula Salad
Quality meets convenience in this speedy springtime main. This salad fits right into your weekday lineup with minimal effort and maximum flavor. Prewashed greens let you grab a handful and go. Build a salad, wilt into sautés, or blend into a pesto. Look to Buitoni pasta packs for quick meals on their own or to help you elevate salads and soups. Rotisserie chicken is one of your best supermarket allies for fast and fresh weeknight meals.
Caesar-Crusted Chicken Salad
Deconstructing a familiar classic is always fun. Here, the anchovy and Parmesan dressing becomes a rub for grilled chicken and the crunch comes from a crisp panko crust instead of croutons. The anchovy adds a briny, savory depth to the chicken that isn’t fishy, but you can omit for a version that’s more kid-friendly. Instead of shredded lettuce, we grill romaine hearts whole for more of a centerpiece, knife-and-fork feel. Most grill pans are made of cast-iron and are oven-safe. If yours is not, or your pan is missing a handle, use a cast-iron skillet instead.
Winter Salad with Easy Herbed Pork Tenderloin
Kale and spinach provide a hearty salad base for herb-seasoned pork tenderloin, tangy feta, sweet grapes, and a bright olive oil dressing. If packing your lunch for the office, assemble greens, cheese, and grapes in a large plastic container. When ready to heat, add warmed pork and dressing, and shake salad with top on to evenly distribute dressing and ingredients. Dairy-free option: Use 2 teaspoons toasted chopped walnuts instead of feta cheese.
Black and Blue Steak Salad
The black and blue salad, a combination of spice-rubbed, blackened chicken or steak and crumbled blue cheese, is a staple of the American gastropub menu. Unfortunately, the “salad” interpretation is a bit loose—the lettuce merely a bed for a Flinstone-sized protein serving, the butter-yellow croutons, tons of cheese, and creamy dressing blanketing all. We kept the chargrilled steak, blue cheese, and crisp croutons you love, then topped off with good-for-you avocado and a vinaigrette that complements the vegetables rather than disguise them. A little meat goes a long way: just 12 ounces is plenty to serve 4.
Kale, Apple, and Almond Chicken Salad
A simple lemon vinaigrette doubles as a marinade. Make sure to pat the chicken dry before searing, or the excess liquid will keep the meat from browning. Crisp, sweet-tart varieties (Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady) add freshness and crunch—or a juicy, sweet contrast to seared or roasted meats.
Burger Patty Salad
We love the richness that a little ground lamb offers, but you can use all beef or even ground turkey instead.
Grilled Vegetable and Flank Steak Salad With Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
If you don't love blue cheese, try crumbled feta or grated Parmesan instead.
Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad
In this dish, just a bit of a rich and pungent cheese can go quite a long way. Tossing hot pasta with a few ounces of creamy Brie makes for a light, luscious, and flavorful sauce to coat this abundant bowl of chicken, fresh veggies, and whole-grain noodles.
Steak and Tomato Panzanella
We use the broiler to keep this vibrant summer salad speedy, but if you already have the grill cranked up, this dish easily transitions to an outdoor entrée.
Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad With Spiced Pecans
You'll want to double the sweet and spicy sautéed pecans for snacking during the week. Sub fresh summer fruit like blueberries or nectarines for the raspberries. Grill the chicken and make the spiced pecans in advance. Change up the greens, fruit, and dressing for fast lunches.
Greek-Style Chicken Salad
This Greek-style main dish salad features parsley salad topped with homemade chicken salad and pita chips.
Who says salad has to be boring? Not us. This shrimp-laced salad is everything but. Toss homemade croutons, shrimp, and basil into arugula and cucumber for a sensational salad tonight.
Flank Steak Panzanella Salad
This salad is even better at room temperature once the bread has absorbed some of the dressing. Swap the steak for chicken or shrimp, or omit for a side salad.
The Cheeseburger Salad
Classic burger elements become a fast, fun salad for the entire family—a deconstructed take on a diner favorite. Instead of four burger patties, we cook just two, then chop and sprinkle them over the top. A handful of crushed potato chips adds crunch. Kick up the dressing with a pinch of ground red pepper.
Watermelon and Arugula Chicken Salad
If watermelon wedges are a mainstay at your summer cookouts, try dicing for this instant, gorgeous salad. The sweetness of the fruit pairs beautifully with the smoky rotisserie chicken and fresh mint to create a summertime staple that will keep the family asking for seconds.
Strawberry-Chicken Salad With Pecans
This main-dish salad features juicy strawberries at their seasonal peak.
Kale and Beet Salad with Salmon
White balsamic vinegar is slightly sweet; cider vinegar is tangier. Either will be delicious here. Canned salmon is an inexpensive, sustainable seafood option. Sub canned albacore tuna or 2 cooked salmon fillets.
Shredded Chicken and Avocado Nacho Salad
Dinner doesn't get any easier than this five-ingredient salad. It's bursting with Super Bowl Sunday potential, but you could easily whip this up any time of the year for a crisp, refreshing meal. Substitute iceberg lettuce for romaine if you prefer—and you can also substitute store-bought multi-grain chips for homemade baked tortilla chips if you have the time.
Fennel and Clementine Salad with Chicken, Almonds, and Feta
Fennel's licorice-y sweetness is a great match for juicy citrus and salty feta. But if it's not your favorite, swap the fennel out in favor of thinly sliced red onion.
Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad With Spicy Pineapple Dressing
Chicken with kick, paired with a spicy pineapple dressing, makes this Cooking Light main-dish salad recipe one to add to your repertoire.