Satisfying Entree Salads

Having been through my fair share of dieting in various forms, I tend to cringe when people tell me to “just order a salad with chicken” when trying to make a healthy choice. A pile of iceberg and romaine with a couple slices of cucumber and tomato and a few strips of chicken isn’t usually what I’m craving, nor do I find it very satisfying.

What do I look for in a salad?

I need texture: crunchy bell peppers, chewy dried fruit, crisp onions.

I need colors: burgundy beets, bright green arugula, yellow artichokes.

I need bold flavors, not wimpy ones: fresh lemon, zesty garlic, chili powder.

And to make it a meal, I need a generous serving of protein. Tuna, chicken, salmon or a big scoop of beans – it’s all good to me.

Whether you’re eating at home, on-the-go, or out with friends, salads can be a healthy and delicious gluten-free choice. Consider your salad bowl an empty palette and challenge yourself to fill it up – no ingredient is too crazy! If that’s too overwhelming, opt for a few simple ingredients that balance beautifully together. That’s exactly what I had in mind when I created my White Bean and Artichoke Salad, a summer staple in our house. What I love most about this salad is its versatility. It’s a welcome addition to any summer gathering, a perfect accompaniment to warm weather dinner parties, or a simple dinner meal that can stand alone or be paired with a protein. For the ultimate in ease, open a can of albacore tuna and mix it right in. For something a little fancier, juicy grilled wild Alaskan salmon fits the bill. But even served “naked,” it’s not missing a thing. And the ingredient list can’t be beat: six ingredients in addition to salt and pepper and I’d be willing to bet a few of those are staples you already have.

On the other hand, my Beets and Sweets Chopped Salad quickly went from, “what am I going to put in here besides beets and sweet potatoes?” to, “what am I not throwing in here?” And that’s how this winning salad was born. I’m always drawn to chopped salads because they’re colorful, crunchy and don’t require a knife. Since everything is cut down to the same size, you taste bits of almost everything in each bite – another key to a great salad. Some of the ingredients may not seem like natural partners (hard boiled eggs and dates, really? Yes, really!). But take a chance. It might just inspire you to create your own colorful “kitchen sink” salad next time.

These recipes are proof that salads don’t have to be boring diet food. Grab a chilled glass of wine or seltzer, and maybe even a piece of toasted gluten-free bread or crispy crackers. It’s easy to make salad a crave-worthy meal.

Satisfying Entree Salads image

White Bean & Artichoke Salad

(Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Vegetarian, Vegan)

Serves 3 as a vegan main course, or 4-6 with added protein

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 1¾ cup cooked cannellini beans)

1 (12-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed

½ cup chopped red onion

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons herb-infused olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces baby arugula

Combine the cannellini beans, artichokes, and red onion in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the beans and stir to coat. Add the arugula a few handfuls at a time, tossing to coat and wilt slightly.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to blend the flavors.

Satisfying Entree Salads image

Beets & Sweets Chopped Salad

(Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Vegetarian)

Serves 4

Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray

4 small beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into

¼-½ inch cubes

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup cooked chickpeas

½ cup sliced scallions (white and light green parts)

¼ cup pitted and chopped dates

3 tablespoons minced fresh mint

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

Big pinch sea salt

½ ripe avocado, pitted and diced

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray a large rectangle of foil with cooking spray. Place the beets on the foil. Place a second sheet of foil over the beets and crimp the top and bottom sheets together to make a sealed packet. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 50 minutes. Allow the beets to cool, but keep the oven set to 400ºF.

Arrange the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and chili powder. Toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn with a spatula and roast for 10-15 minutes more, until tender. Cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, gently rub them to peel off the skins. Dice into ¼-½ inch pieces. Add the spinach to a large bowl along with beets, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, chickpeas, scallions and dates.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the mint, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Gently fold in the avocado. Divide among serving bowls and top each with an equal amount of chopped egg.

Written by Cara Lyons

Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
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