Nutritious and versatile, colourful salads are the perfect all-year round meal, from ultra-refreshing summer salad recipes to hearty winter comfort food. As a side or main, warm or cold, there are infinite ways to satisfy your (and everyone else’s) tastes by mixing up vegetables, proteins, fruit, nuts and more.
They’re also an easy-to-make, highly adaptable option for catering to a group of people at any occasion. A curated collection of prettily presented, self-serve-style salads is a great way of leaving options for your crowd, and can be an easy avenue to ensuring vegetarians are well catered for with a full meal.
We’re experts when it comes to the very best salad recipes! Explore the possibilities with these ten epic salad ideas:
Garden Salad with a Twist
One of our favourite salad recipes is a vegan, ultra-healthy combo that is super refreshing and light yet really delivers on flavour (salty, sweet, savoury and spicy). Plus, that all-important creaminess takes this salad from “rabbit food” to something that could totally satisfy as a standalone dish if need be.
Simply combine diced cucumber, chopped celery, sliced Kalamata olives, and sliced red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes in a bowl. In another bowl, mash an avocado with salt and pepper, a light squeeze of lemon and a pinch of cayenne powder. Toss everything together just before serving and garnish with torn coriander. So delicious it doesn’t even need a dressing!
Roast Vegetable Salad
Another vegan favourite is a roast veggie salad, a traditional vegetable salad recipe that’s simultaneously healthy but comforting (best of both worlds, if you ask us). While roast vegetable salads are generally pretty rustic, they can be elevated into something more elegant with a few clever ingredient choices. Think orange and purple Dutch carrots with the tops still on instead of plain carrots, or Spanish red onion instead of brown.
Make sure you have plenty of pops of colour, season everything well, and keep your chopping technique uniform so everything cooks evenly. Mix with the likes of lentils, rocket, fresh herbs and pine nuts (or feta is perfect if your guests aren’t dairy-free).
Crunchy Red Velvet Salad
A simple six-ingredient salad, this one is rich in proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and fibre–not to mention it looks fabulous on the table.
Mix grated beetroot, diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, and roasted peanuts together. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste, and let marinate for around five minutes, allowing the beetroot to expel some juice. Add a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt (mixed with a few drops of water beforehand if it’s thick) and stir to achieve an incredible dark pink colour.
Tropical Prawn Salad
The pairing of prawn and mango is a great Australian staple and pretty much the ultimate summer salad recipe!
Peel and devein cooked tiger prawns and place in a bowl with cubed mango and avocado. Grate the zest of half a lime, then mix zest and the juice of two limes with chopped coriander, finely diced de-seeded chilli, honey and avocado oil. Whisk to combine and season well, then pour over the prawn mixture and toss to combine. Serve over iceberg or cos lettuce with another squeeze of lime and toasted macadamias for summer on a plate.
Going with the Grain
A grain-based salad is a great go-to for a filling dish that isn’t too meaty, or as a healthy, complex-carb-filled side. Our Ancient Grains salad ticks all the boxes, or give this unexpectedly delicious combination of barley and cherries a try.
Cook one cup of barley until tender, then cool. Meanwhile, place a small handful of dried cherries in a bowl and cover with a few tablespoons of vinegar, some honey, a touch of minced garlic and salt, and microwave on low for one minute. Cover and cool, then combine barley with the cherry mixture, and throw in some coarsely chopped cashews; cover and refrigerate for an hour or so. Serve with crisp steamed asparagus spears and vinaigrette.
Best-Ever Chicken Salad
The humble chicken salad is an all-time classic. The perfect base to be taken in whatever direction you fancy, a Thai-style chicken salad recipe with lots of zest and tang is always a hit.
Wok-fry or grill chicken that has been marinated in lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, lime and brown sugar, slice and serve over Asian slaw, chopped coriander and Vietnamese mint, topped with toasted cashews and fried shallots. The perfect salad dressing recipe to accompany? Nam jim, or Thai dipping sauce: crushed chillies, garlic and ginger (use a mortar and pestle), with palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Keep alternating salty, sour and sweet elements and tasting until it’s just right.
Italian-Style Pasta Salad
A list of best salad recipes wouldn’t be complete without a pasta salad, and when it comes to making these deliciously carb-y creations, simple wins every time.
We love using radiatori pasta (literally named after mini-radiators!) as it captures any coating within all its grooves for maximum flavour. Cook al dente, cool slightly and serve with basil pesto, cherry bocconcini and semi-dried tomatoes for an easy, Italian-style masterpiece that’s sure to please.
Fancy Fruit Salad
A fresh, juicy fruit salad when made perfectly is a sensory overload of sweet, succulent deliciousness. The ideal warm-weather dessert on its own, or to complement something more indulgent, it’s a guilt-free palate cleanser, sweet finish to a meal, or a refreshing snack. The best fruit salad recipes combine berries, citrus and tropical fruits. It’s pretty much a free-for-all, although be conscious that there are rare fruity flavour combinations that clash, such as grapefruit and banana.
Once you’ve chopped your desired fruit into a bowl, blend the juice of an orange, the juice of a lime, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a handful of mint in a blender (the secret ingredient that really brings out the flavour and sweetness of the fruit). Dress the salad just before serving, and garnish with extra mint.