Our best salad recipes all together in one place. These are our favourite main and side salad dishes. Salads that not only look great but are just popping with fresh and vibrant flavours.
This best salad recipes roundup is all about celebrating the humble salad. Here we have a selection of great tasting main course salads along with some quick side salads. However, whilst simple to prepare these salads pack a real flavour punch.
Salad is much maligned and often seen as the poorer option on a menu. However, that doesn’t need to be the case! When done well, a great salad can be so much more. With the right ingredients and that all important dressing which transforms the dish, a salad can bring joy.
Table of contents
- This importance of salad dressing & seasoning
- Top 3 tips for dressing salad
- Best oil for salad dressing?
- What acid to use for salad dressing?
- Best Salad Recipes – Mains
- The next 3 salads can all be made using leftovers from the weekend’s roast!
- Best Salad Sides Recipes
- Grilled and marinated vegetables
- Best potato salad recipes
- Quick & Easy Salsa Recipes
What makes a great salad?
A good salad has a balance of flavours and textures, ideally with that all important crunch element. Salad is not brown, limp pieces of lettuce, tomato and cucumber thrown on the side of a plate. No this is simply lazy catering and nobody will thank you for that.
When done well, a salad makes the very best use of seasonal vegetables. We all enjoy eating salad over the summer months when our gardens a brimming with produce. However, I’m a huge fan of salad all year round. I simply adapt the flavours to suit what is in season at the time.
In the summer months its all about produce fresh from the garden, think salad leaves, tomatoes and fresh herbs. However, coming into the colder months over autumn and winter, I start roasting veggies and adding those to my salad.
This importance of salad dressing & seasoning
There is no excuse for undressed or under seasoned salad. A salad dressing only takes minutes to prepare but the flavours transform the dish. Salad dressing and seasoning are what makes the difference between a terrible salad and a great tasting one.
I like to use a jam jar with a lid when preparing salad dressing. Place all the ingredients into the jar and screw on the lid. Now give everything a good shake to combine. This also makes it really easy to store any leftover dressing! Just pop on the lid and place the jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Top 3 tips for dressing salad
- Add the right amount of dressing to coat the salad. You want to coat the salad, no salad should be swimming in salad dressing.
- When dressing leaves, give them a quick wash then make sure that you shake off all the excess water. If you leave the salad wet, the dressing will not stick to the leaves. You also run the risk of making the dressing watery.
- Taste your dressing before you add it to the salad. Make sure there is the right balance of oil, acidity and seasoning. It’s easier to adjust before you dress the salad rather than afterwards.
Best oil for salad dressing?
The best oil to use in a salad dressing depends largely on what you are putting it on. I use sunflower oil, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil as they add great flavour to any salad dressing without overpowering it.
A good salad dressing should enhance the flavours in your dish but in no way mask the main ingredients. For example I use sesame oil when preparing a salad dressing for an Asian slaw – it works in that dish and the other flavours I am pairing it with. Look at the flavours you are dressing and choose the right oil for the ingredients.
What acid to use for salad dressing?
Along with the oil base, you need to add acid to a salad dressing. The acid adds a sharp sourness which helps balance out the other flavours in the dish. Salad dressings typically contain vinegar but you can also add fruit juices. Here are some suggestions below of the acids I use regularly when making homemade salad dressings and vinaigrette’s:
- VINEGAR: red wine; white wine; apple cider; sherry; rice wine
- FRUIT BASED: any citrus will work, eg lemon; orange; clementine; grapefruit; and lime juice
Adding fresh herbs to salads
Fresh herbs can be added to the salad dressing, simply chop up and whisk through. More often than not I add the fresh herbs directly into the salad bowl, that way they don’t go limp and start to discolour.
Best Salad Recipes – Mains
A salad main is a joy to eat if done well. Salad should have a variety of flavours and textures, get that right and salad is far from boring. Although served here as mains, all can be served as side or starter salads too.
My colourful Grilled Vegetables with Halloumi & Herb Dressing just makes me want to tuck right in. Grilling the vegetables and halloumi cheese add depth of flavour. The salad is dressed with a fresh herb and yogurt dressing.
Roast Pumpkin Salad with charred corn, avocado and toasted seeds has to be one of my favourite salad dishes. Not only is it packed full of flavour but it is easily adapted to suit either a salad side, starter or main dish. I like to crumble over a little Cheshire cheese to add a touch of saltiness to the finished dish.
When is comes to great tasting salad our Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad is right up there. This beautiful salad not only tastes great but this is one of my best blue cheese salad recipes and can be served as a main salad dish, and also a starter or side salad.
For a quick salad that always hits the spot, try our Smoked Mackerel & Beetroot Salad. The smoky mackerel pairs well with the earthy beetroot, sweet carrot and fresh cucumber and we finish it with a creamy horseradish dressing.
Easy Beef Salad with Asian Slaw is one of those salads that I enjoy any time of the year. Lean slices of marinated stead serve with a rainbow of crisp vegetables and Asian salad dressing. This is a healthy salad as we serve 2 sirloin steaks for 4 people, loading our plates with the colourful slaw instead.
The next 3 salads can all be made using leftovers from the weekend’s roast!
In these salads we use fresh cooked chicken, however you can easily use leftovers from the weekend’s roast. I hate to waste food and this is a great way to use up leftovers.
One of the best chicken salad recipes I’ve ever created, our Chicken & Asparagus Salad features pan fried chicken and asparagus is combined with warm Jersey royal potatoes and the salty hit of crispy bacon. Everything is piled on top of crunchy lettuce leaves and doused with a quick and easy French salad dressing.
Chicken Salad with Harissa Dressing is another of my best chicken salad recipes. Pan fried chicken combined with quinoa, chickpeas, sliced avocado, tomato and mixed leaves. This dish is served with a spicy harissa dressing and a scattering of pomegranate seeds for a final burst of freshness.
Our Ham, Fig & Blue Cheese Salad makes great use of ham leftover from the weekends roast. This is one of the best blue cheese salad recipes in my repertoire as the whole dish balances sweet, salty and bitter flavours. I always make this salad over the festive period, using up leftover ham and the figs, olives and blue cheese from the cheeseboard.
Best Salad Sides Recipes
Fennel & Apple Slaw is a cool and refreshing side salad that marries the aniseed flavour of fennel with the sharpness of a green apple, bound together in a creamy lemon dressing. This is a favourite side and it tastes amazing served alongside fish or chicken. This is also a favourite barbecue side salad, perfect for serving up on those warm days of summer.
For a change from your regular cabbage based slaws try my Sprout Slaw with Apple & Radish. This slaw is full of crunch and texture and I’ve swapped the mayonnaise based dressing for a honey and mustard dressing.
Spicy Chickpea Salad with Harrisa Dressing is a great tasting salad that can either be served as a main or side. This is one of my go-to salads as it’s packed full of flavour and the chickpeas make it a filling light lunch or dinner. I enjoy this salad all year round as I always have a tin of chickpeas in my store cupboard and a jar of harissa paste in my fridge.
When it comes to quick and easy to prepare, you can’t beat this Easy Bean Salad! This versatile tastes great with any number of dishes and is a great make ahead salad if you plan to barbecue. Add some dress salad leaves and you have a great quick and nutritious lunch too.
Easy Lettuce Salad is a garden salad made with fresh lettuce from my own garden and a selection of home grown soft herbs. I dress the salad in a honey mustard dressing which adds just a touch of sweetness to the salad.
Easy Asian Cucumber Salad makes the very best of crisp cucumber. I like to add toasted sesame seeds, chopped chilies and some fresh coriander and mint to the salad. I then dress it with an Asian salad dressing, flavoured with garlic, ginger, soy and sesame oil.
Grilled and marinated vegetables
One of my favourite ways to enjoy vegetables is to grill them. Our Italian Marinated Aubergine is versatile and a great addition to any main course or sharing platter. Don’t be limited to just aubergine either, you can treat courgettes and peppers in exactly the same way. Why not try all three?
Best potato salad recipes
I love potatoes and when it comes to cooking with them, a good quality potato salad is hard to beat. Below we have three of the best potato salad recipes, all flavoured differently and with different textures. I don’t think you can have enough recipes for potato salad in your repertoire!
Our Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon & Chives is a great tasting salad that can be served warm or cold. The crispy bacon add a salty crunch to the soft potatoes and cuts through the creaminess of the dressing. The chives add a burst of freshness while the Dijon mustard adds gently warmth to the dressing. This salad is one I get requested to cook more than any other!
When it comes to simplicity you can’t beat this Warm Vegan Potato Salad. This salad is served warm and combines potato with roasted red peppers (from a jar), spring onion, sun-blush tomatoes (from a jar) and parsley. Olive oil, garlic and sherry vinegar make for a really light dressing. This salad can be prepared in the time it takes to boil your potatoes!
Warm Potato Salad with Wild Garlic is the salad I like to make in late Spring when the Jersey royal potatoes are in season and our woodland floors are carpeted with wild garlic. This is a short growing season so I like to make the very best of these seasonal stars while they are around. The light olive oil dressing is combined with parsley, mustard and lemon.
Quick & Easy Salsa Recipes
Quick and easy salsas are a great way of adding in extra flavour to our meals. These super fresh salsas can add real zing to any food you pair them with. For example, both elevate a simple dish of eggs on toast!
Tomato Salsa combines sweet tomatoes with a sharp burst of lime and fresh herbs. This sides tastes amazing with any spiced foods, and works great as par of a larger Mexican inspired dinner. However, it’s just as good with a piece of grilled chicken, fish or seafood.
Easy Guacamole is straightforward to prepare but this fresh and zingy salsa packs a real flavour punch. Combine mashed avocado with the freshness of herbs, lime and chilli. Make this salsa as chunky, smooth or somewhere in between.