50+ Best Salad Recipes

A list of fifty of the best salad recipes I’ve prepared over the years. You’ll see a mix of green salads, chopped salads, grain and pasta salads. They all have an emphasis on fresh, whole, seasonal, plant-based ingredients.

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Having a repertoire of great salad recipes is key. This is a list of many of the best salads I’ve prepared over the years. You’ll see a mix of chopped salads, green salads, plus grain and pasta salads. They all have an emphasis on fresh, whole, seasonal, plant-based ingredients. Enjoy!

Chopped Salad Recipes

One of my favorite genres of salad. Chopped salads tend to be intensely flavored, varied in texture, and packed with ingredients. They often feature a strong dressing, and are a great way to use up odds and ends in your refrigerator.

  1. Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw

    This feather-light, mayo-free, coleslaw recipe uses blistered peanuts, cherry tomatoes, and lime vinaigrette and is perfect alongside fajitas, or whatever you have coming off the grill. Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw

  2. Spicy Rainbow Chopped Salad with Peanuts

    Everyone loves this beautiful rainbow chopped salad made with blood oranges, crispy shallots, peanuts, and a creamy, red curry dressing. Give it a try! Spicy Rainbow Chopped Salad with Peanuts

  3. Cucumber Salad

    A refreshing chopped cucumber salad loaded with peanuts, spices, toasted coconut, and chiles. Cucumber Salad

  4. A Good Shredded Salad

    A shredded salad with lots of cabbage and scallions, tossed with soy sauce, honey, and cilantro, and amount of crunch toasted peanuts, and celery.
    A Good Shredded Salad

  5. Heirloom Apple Salad

    The sort of hearty apple salad I love – heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is creamy and spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar.Heirloom Apple Salad

  6. Spicy Sesame Coleslaw

    I love the coleslaw up above, but I love this one even more and make it constantly. A feathery slaw made from shredded green and red cabbages, apples, carrots, and scallions tossed with a spicy sesame dressing. If you’ve ever had asparagus or spinach goma-ae at a Japanese restaurant you’ll recognize the inspiration for the dressing.Heirloom Apple Salad

Green Salad Recipes

The key to great salads is buying fantastic salad greens. Or even better (and less expensive), grow your own if you have the space. For the best salad foundation, look for vibrant leaves that aren’t sad or wilted, and pass on bagged and packaged lettuces.

  1. Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

    A delicious, crisp grilled wedge salad topped with a spicy ranch dressing, chives, and nuts. An all-time favorite summer salad.Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

  2. Anna’s California Miso Avocado Salad

    A California-inspired Miso, Avocado, & Lima Bean Salad from A Modern Way to Eat, by Anna Jones. Seasonal greens and beans are tossed with an assertive, creamy miso dressing and topped with ripe, creamy avocado. Anna’s California Miso Avocado Salad

  3. Genius Kale Salad

    There is a special kale salad recipe in the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook. A single kale salad that ran the gauntlet, beating out all others, for a slice of limelight.
    Genius Kale Salad

  4. The Greenest Salad

    A shredded green salad bulked out with blanched broccoli, avocado, pistachios, a bit of feta cheese, and tossed with a tarragon balsamic vinaigrette.
    The Greenest Salad

  5. An Ideal Lunch Salad

    Chickpeas, celery, black olives, pepitas, avocado, blanched broccoli. Full of crunch & substance, it’s a salad that can stand up to a few hours in a container without collapsing. An Ideal Lunch Salad

  6. Lacinato Kale and Pecorino Salad

    A base of finely shredded Lacinato kale to which and abundance of toasted pecans, pecorino cheese, and shredded Brussels sprouts are added. A strong lemon-tahini dressing is leveraged to brighten things up and take the raw edge off of the kale. Lacinato Kale and Pecorino Salad

Summer Salad Recipes

Arguably peak salad season, summer salads feature all the magic coming out of backyard gardens and local markets. These salad recipes help you work through tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, and beautiful stone fruits. Many are meal-worthy, helping to keep your kitchen cool during the hottest weather.

  1. Grilled Zucchini & Bread Salad

    A bread salad made with summer veggies and torn pieces of toasted multi-grain bread, grilled zucchini, chickpeas, and a simple, garlic-forward ponzu dressing.
    Grilled Zucchini & Bread Salad

  2. A Really Great Coconut Corn Salad

    Butter a skillet add corn, fresh thyme, red onions, toasted almonds and coconut, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice…
    A Really Great Coconut Corn Salad

  3. Heirloom Tomato Salad

    My favorite tomato salad this year – made with roasted and ripe tomatoes, capers, mozzarella, almonds, and chives. I occasionally boost with a bit of goat cheese. Heirloom Tomato Salad

  4. Fruit Salad with Thai Herbs

    A summer fruit salad – berries, peaches and pluots drizzled with a citrusy lemongrass and honey dressing, topped with toasted walnuts, and lots of mint.
    Fruit Salad with Thai Herbs

  5. Easy Tomato & Pasta Salad

    Pasta salad extraordinaire – tomatoes & pasta in an A+ one-bowl dish. Whole-grain pasta, baby kale, basil, and the best tomatoes you can get your hands on. Easy Tomato & Pasta Salad

  6. Joshua McFadden’s Cucumber Salad

    A ringer of a cucumber salad. The main players: cucumbers, ice-bathed scallions, toasted walnuts, mint, rose, and a vinegar-spiked yogurt dressing.
    Joshua McFadden’s Cucumber Salad

  7. Na’ama’s Fattoush

    A beautiful fattoush recipe and a preview of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s new book, Jerusalem.
    Na’ama’s Fattoush

  8. Pluot Summer Salad

    This salad is pluot based, with toasted ginger, garlic, and shallots. It is drizzled with a simple lime soy sauce dressing, and is generously flecked with herbs – in this case, mint, basil, and cilantro. Pluot Summer Salad

Pasta Salad Recipes

A handful of favorite salad recipes featuring pasta, noodles, fresh ingredients and super bold flavors.

  1. Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

    This is a noodle salad you’ll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

  2. Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad

    Plump raviolis tossed with toasted hazelnuts, lemony chard, and caramelized onions are at the heart of this ravioli salad recipe.Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad

  3. Classic Macaroni Salad

    A fresh take on classic macaroni salad. It hits all the notes of your favorite old-fashioned macaroni salad, but gives you a few nutritious options to explore as well. Classic Macaroni Salad

  4. Pomelo Noodles

    Being nice to your future self & and simple lunch salad made with noodles, edamame, greens, ponzu dressing, peanuts, and pomelo.
    Pomelo Noodles

 Great Picnic Salad Recipes

These are the salad recipes to turn to when you need something that can travel. The kinds of salads that can handle a picnic or potluck.

  1. Tempeh Taco Salad

    All the things you love about a taco, in salad form. Tempeh taco salad – crushed tortilla chips bring the crunch, black beans and crumbled tempeh coated with taco seasoning brings the substance, and a strong, smoked paprika-apple cider dressing pulls everything together.
    Tempeh Taco Salad

  2. California Barley Bowl

    I made this Megan Gordon’s beautiful California Barley Bowl for a family brunch last week. From her inspiring new cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings.
    California Barley Bowl

  3. Mung Yoga Bowl

    The kind of bowl that keeps you strong – herb-packed yogurt dolloped over a hearty bowl of mung beans and quinoa, finished with toasted nuts and a simple paprika oil. Mung Yoga Bowl

  4. Garlic Lime Lettuce Wraps

    Not a salad per se, but a lot of my favorite salad components at play here. Ginger and garlic tempeh rice, folded into lime-spiked lettuce wraps with lots of herbs, cucumber, and carrots. Garlic Lime Lettuce Wraps

  5. Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts

    An herb-packed rice salad recipe with peanuts, toasted coconut, and a strong boost of fresh lime. Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts

  6. Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad

    Warm, coin-shaped slices of pan-fried carrots, white alubia beans, and chopped dill tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing.
    Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad Recipe

  7. Bar Tartine Cauliflower Salad

    A beautiful cauliflower salad from the new Bar Tartine cookbook – a crunchy, hearty mixture of cauliflower, seeds, chiles, radishes, chickpeas, and green onions slathered in an enveloping garlicky yogurt dressing. Bar Tartine Cauliflower Salad

  8. Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

    Lightly cooked cauliflower is chopped, then tossed, with turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and a touch of ghee. Then you add sliced avocado, hard-boiled eggs, toasted seeds, rainbow chard stems, lettuces. It’s beautiful and delicious. Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Bowl

  9. Last Minute Everything Bagel Noodle Bowl

    A perfect one-pot meal. Noodles, tofu, and broccoli boiled in one pot, drained, tossed with splashes of olive oil and ponzu, plus a generous showering of everything bagel seasoning to finish it all off. Last Minute Everything Bagel Noodle Bowl

  10. An Exceptional Salad with an Unusual Coconut Oil Dressing

    Coconut oil dressing was just one of the brilliant ideas that jumped out at me from the pages of Julia Sherman’s new Salad For President cookbook. You can also make a spinach salad version of this gem.
    An Exceptional Salad with an Unusual Coconut Oil Dressing

  11. A Maximalist Potato Salad

    Tender potatoes are loaded with chiles, chopped herbs, garlic & whatever bright, fresh vegetables you have on hand. A Maximalist Potato Salad

  12. Spring Roll Salad

    Imagine a spring roll without the wrapper and you’ve got this salad. A familiar chorus of flavors – sweet, sour, tangy, hot, and nutty all projected onto a mound of serpentine rice noodles and seasonal vegetables with a peanut dressing and lime splash. Spring Roll Salad

  13. Lazy Day Peanut Noodle Salad

    A peanut noodle salad recipe featuring soba noodles punctuated with spring onions, tofu, peanuts, and asparagus. Lazy Day Peanut Noodle Salad

  14. Asparagus Panzanella

    A simple asparagus panzanella – a quick, mustard buttermilk dressing accents good asparagus, alongside crusty shards of toasted bread, and a dusting of sesame seeds. Shred a hard boiled egg over the top for a more substantial meal.
    Asparagus Panzanella

  15. Cocagne Bean & Artichoke Salad

    The bean & artichoke salad I made to take to Easter this year – pickled celery, chopped kalamata olives and toasted walnuts, along with tender artichokes, and lots of the white cocagne beans I picked up at my neighborhood farmer’s market. Cocagne Bean & Artichoke Salad

  16. Ayocote Bean & Mushroom Salad

    A wintery bean salad made with gorgeous Rancho Gordo ayocote negro beans, and pan-fried hedgehog mushrooms. Ayocote Bean & Mushroom Salad

  17. Coconut Quinoa Bowl

    A quirky, unique bowl of quinoa, with a couple of secrets. And the next time you have leftover quinoa (other other favorite grain) give it a try – coconut, garlic, almonds, kale, topped with salted yogurt and avocado. Coconut Quinoa Bowl

  18. Zucchini Agrodolce

    A pretty, summer-centric zucchini agrodolce – shredded zucchini doused with a garlic infused agrodolce splash of vinegar, honey, and olive oil, tossed with toasted coconut and walnuts for crunch, red onion for bite and assertiveness, a couple of chopped dates, and tiny greens or herbs threaded about. Zucchini Agrodolce

  19. Blue Kale Studio Salad

    A vibrant spring salad – butter lettuce, saffron almonds, blue kale micro greens. Blue Kale Studio Salad

  20. Shredded Egg Salad

    Shredding hard-boiled eggs on a box grater makes a light, fluffy, bright egg salad, and I must say, a nice alternative to chopped, heavily dressed versions of the classic. Shredded Egg Salad

  21. A Good Winter Salad

    A simple salad made with crunchy lettuces, a garlicky, melted lemon butter dressing, and shaved endives, delicata squash, avocados, and pepitas. Tastes so good!
    A Good Winter Salad

  22. Avocado Salad

    Thinly sliced avocado arranged over simple lentils, drizzled with oregano oil, toasted hazelnuts, and chives. Avocado Salad

  23. Cilantro Salad

    Simply cilantro leaves and stems tossed with a simple shallot-forward soy sauce dressing, plus peanuts, and asparagus. If you’re at all a cilantro fan, you have to try this. Cilantro Salad

  24. Buttermilk Asparagus Salad

    Simple side – asparagus tossed with a garlicky buttermilk dressing, perky radish sprouts, lots of fresh cilantro, and a handful of cooked posole.
    Buttermilk Asparagus Salad

  25. Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

    A beauty of a carrot salad – tricked out with chickpeas, chunks of dried pluots, sliced almonds, and a toasted cumin dressing. Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

Fave Salad Boosters & Dressings

  1. An Exceptional Ginger Carrot Dressing

    Blender dressings are great, in part, because they’re fast. Everything into one container, puree, and you’re set. This one is great – carrots, turmeric, coconut milk, shallot, and ginger come together into a dressing perfect for everything from green salads to grain salads.
    An Exceptional Ginger Carrot Dressing

  2. Five Minute Avocado Dressing with Herbs and Spinach

    If you love a good avocado dressing, you’ve got to give this one a try. It is fragrant with fresh herbs, seasoned with miso, and boosted with spinach.
    Five Minute Avocado Dressing with Herbs and Spinach

  3. Salad Booster

    I often carry a small vial of this spiced kale and nori medley in my purse, refilling it every few days. Nutrient-dense and delicious, you use it as a healthful seasoning for salad, vegetables, stir-fries… Salad Booster

  4. Seven Great Blender Dressings to Keep on Hand

    Use these dressings on salads, grain bowls, inside spring rolls, spread on sandwiches, and spooned onto tacos. Seven Great Blender Dressings to Keep on Hand

  5. Shallot Vinaigrette

    A shallot vinaigrette made with rosé wine in place of vinegar. Shallot Vinaigrette

Enjoy the salad recipes! I hope there are a few here that make their way to your table through the year. I have a special fondness for the Spicy Rainbow Chop Salad. And this Cilantro Salad shifted how I think of cilantro. And this is the best bean salad with a tangy-sweet lemonade-ish dressing. Don’t miss the favorite salad dressings that are listed at the bottom as well, and give the wedge salad below a go with any of them in place of the spicy ranch!

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How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother

A vibrant pesto recipe taught to me by my friend Francesca’s mother who came to visit from Genoa, Italy. Made with hand-chopped basil, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts. The real deal.

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If you’ve ever tasted pesto in Italy you know that the pesto here in the United States just isn’t the same. I received a lesson in how to make pesto from a real Italian grandmother last week and now I understand the difference and what makes this pesto recipe so special.
How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother

A Special Pesto

My friend Francesca makes the trip from her small town near the pesto-epicenter of Genoa, Italy to San Francisco once or twice a year – this time (lucky for us) she brought her mom and two-year old son Mattia. Her mom makes a beautiful pesto (and perfectly light, potato gnocchi to go along with it) and offered to show me and my friend Jen how it is done. I have to say, it was a complete game-changer. If you love pesto, you really have to try this. Her technique results in an incredibly special version.
A lot of Chopped Basil is the First Step to Pesto

Pesto Technique

Most of the pesto you encounter here in the U.S. is different for a few reasons. First off, most of what you see is made by machine, usually a food processor or hand blender. This holds true even if it is homemade. Don’t get me wrong, it usually tastes good, but because the ingredients aren’t hand chopped you end up with a texture that is more like like a moist, uniform paste with little to no definition between ingredients. This pesto is something different.

During my lesson I quickly began to realize chopping all the ingredients by hand is key because this prevents the ingredients from becoming a completely homogenized emulsion or paste. When you dress a pasta with a pesto that has been hand chopped the minuscule flecks of basil will separate from the olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese in places. You get definition between ingredients, and bright flavors pop in a way they don’t when they’ve been blended into one.
Fresh Basil Leaves before Being Chopped into Pesto

Video: How to Make Pesto





Choosing The Best Basil for Making Pesto

Genovese pesto is famous in part because it is often made with young, small basil leaves. For us non-Italians it is easy to find Genovese basil in stores and at farmer’s markets, particularly in the summer. That said, chances are it wasn’t picked young. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, simply by hand chopping all your ingredients, you will see a major shift in personality of your pesto.
Close Up Photo of Pesto before Adding Olive Oil

Chop by Hand or Blender?

Per the above, this pesto celebrates hand-chopping. Correspondingly, if you’re serious about making good pesto using the hand-chop technique you’ll need a sharp (preferably large, single blade) mezzaluna, or a good knife. The sharpness of your blade absolutely matters because you don’t want to bruise or tear your basil. Whatever you use to chop, make sure it has a sharp blade or the basil will turn dark. Chopping the ingredients will take twenty minutes or so. Once you chop your ingredients, you’ll form them into a cake, pictured above. You add olive oil to this cake, and it’s magic – below.

How to Store Basil

There are a number of great ways to keep basil fresh until you’re ready to use it. If you think you’ll use it within a day or two, keep the basil in a jar of water on your countertop. The way you’d keep a bouquet of flowers. If you think it will be a few days beyond that, treat the basil like you would salad greens. Give the basil a gentle wash, then wrap the leaves in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, place this in a baggie, and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother - Finished Pesto in A Jar

Favorite Ways to Use Pesto

There are so many great ways to use pesto – some traditional, many not. I love a thick slather as the base sauce on a good pizza. Or on a tart before adding other toppings. If you have a slab of sourdough coming off the grill, a bit of pesto, some seasonal roasted veggies, and a dusting of cheese makes an easy meal. And because it lends a bolt of flavor, I love to whisk a dollop into scrambled eggs, or an omelette, mashed potatoes, or on baked potatoes.

How to Store Pesto

Generally speaking, store any pesto you might use in the next day or two, refrigerated, under a thin film of olive oil. You can also freeze it in snack-sized baggies. Thaw and toss with whatever gnocchi, ravioli, or other favorite pasta you like – and a good splash of pasta water!

  • How Do I Keep Pesto from Turning Brown? There are a couple ways to keep your pesto bright green. Browning comes from oxidizing. One way to prevent this is to limit exposure to air. Because of this, I like to keep pesto in my narrowest jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top so that no pesto is exposed to air. The other option is to blanch your basil leaves briefly, and proceed with your pesto-making from there. I almost always opt for option one.
  • Can Pesto Be Frozen? Yes! You can absolutely freeze pesto. Any pesto you won’t use within a couple days, transfer to freezer baggies. Freeze flat, and break off chunks of pesto to use whenever you need it. When you need larger quantities defrost the entire bag either in the refrigerator or on your countertop.

Pesto Variations

Don’t limit yourself to basil pesto. You can absolutely experiment with other herbs as well. You can add anything from parsley to marjoram (a favorite!), mint to fresh oregano to your basil base. Or leave the basil out entirely! I like to add citrus zest on occasion, or switch up the type of nuts I use – toasted almonds and walnuts are favorites.

Let me know if you try this and what you think! Use your beautiful fresh pesto with this gnocchi recipe. Or this simple homemade pasta, bruschetta, pappardelle, or cavatelli. Tutto bene!

 

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