Vegetarian Main-Course Salad Recipes for a Healthy, Hearty Meal

saffron chickpeas quinoa
Con Poulos

When you're craving something that's nourishing, energizing, and all-around tasty, try one of these vegetarian main course salad recipes. Thanks to a hearty assortment of protein and fiber-packed ingredients, they'll help you to feel fuller for longer while still providing a flavorful bite.

Start with the Saffron Chickpeas and Bitter Greens with Quinoa, pictured here. In this recipe, chickpeas are poached with saffron and then tossed with a mixture of sautéed bell pepper, garlic, onion, and greens. Serve the mixture over pre-cooked or leftover quinoa for a protein-packed vegetarian salad. It serves four people and comes together in just 30 minutes, so you can enjoy it for a meal any day of the week.

During spring, stock up on artichokes, green beans, and asparagus, all of which are at their peak during the warmer months. We have a fabulous fresh pasta salad that makes use of some of these vegetables. Come summer, employ juicy cherry tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob for a vegetarian salad packed with the flavors and colors of the season.

Some of these vegetarian salads—such as our pasta salad and grain bowl recipes—can absolutely be served as a side dish as a picnic or backyard barbecue, too. Of course, we think they're at their best when you enjoy them as a main course for lunch or dinner. They're certainly hearty enough to be eaten on their own.

From salads made with legumes and grains to vegetable-packed all-stars, any of these vegetarian main course salads will make a nutritious and delicious meal.

01 of 18

Warm Lentil-and-Cauliflower Salad

Warm Lentil-and-Cauliflower Salad recipe
Chris Simpson

Cauliflower and tomatoes roast together until the cauliflower is crisp and the tomatoes are bursting at the seams with their juices for this hearty vegetarian dinner salad. Top with pre-cooked lentils, plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and arugula for a meatless meal.

02 of 18

Winter Cobb Salad

winter cobb salad with tofu and shiitakes
Con Poulos

This vegetarian version of a traditional cobb salad swaps in tofu and crispy shiitake mushrooms in place of the usual bacon, but you surely won't miss the meat. It also features seasonal lacinato kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and blue cheese crumbles (of course!) for a superb winter dinner.

03 of 18

Moroccan Barley Salad

Moroccan Barley Salad
Petrina Tinslay

Here, we've dressed up pearled barley with dried preserved lemons, black olives, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro for a lighter main course salad that just might be the ultimate work-from-home lunch.

04 of 18

Rice-and-Bean Salad Bowl with Tahini Sauce

rice and bean salad bowl
Johnny Miller

This protein-rich salad is packed with chickpeas, black beans, and red kidney beans—they're served over short-grain brown rice along with sliced cabbage, avocados, red bell peppers, and cucumbers.

05 of 18

Chopped Winter Salad

chopped winter salad with mushrooms and pomegranate
Kate Mathis

Winter dining isn't all about comfort food. This fragrant vegetarian salad teams roasted acorn squash with shiitake mushrooms, chopped escarole and radicchio, and pomegranate arils for a seasonal salad that is sure to satisfy.

06 of 18

Lima-Bean Salad with Roasted Poblanos and Queso Fresco

lima beans
Lauren Ross

Crowd-friendly and absolutely beautiful, this slightly spicy vegetarian salad starts by cooking dried lima beans and then mixing them with charred poblano peppers, cherry tomatoes, crumbled cheese, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

07 of 18

Marinated-Artichoke and Green-Bean Pasta Salad

artichoke pasta salad green bean
Ren Fuller

Serve this springtime salad for lunch when you're looking for a light, vegetarian meal. It's best made a few hours in advance so that the flavors from canned artichoke hearts, fresh green beans, parsley leaves, and lemon juice can marinate together.

08 of 18

Greek Quinoa Salad

greek quinoa salad
Bryan Gardner

A vibrant combination of quinoa, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and plenty of fresh herbs give this vegetarian main dish salad plenty of Mediterranean flavor.

09 of 18

Warm Lentil Salad with Poached Eggs

humble beginnings warm lentil salad eggs
Christopher Testani

Jammy poached eggs create a creamy sauce for this vegetarian salad that's made with French green lentils, Swiss chard, roasted almonds, and lots of fresh crumbled goat cheese. Green lentils (also known as French lentils) have a nutty flavor and hold their shape when cooked, making them a great choice for salads.

10 of 18

Greek Mezze Salad

Greek mezze salad
Armando Rafael

How stunning is this no-fuss vegetarian salad? It pairs roasted chickpeas with pita wedges, radish wedges, thinly sliced cucumbers, and stuffed grape leaves for a low-key, herby, and flavorful Mediterranean-style salad.

11 of 18

Cherry Tomato, Corn, and Halloumi Salad

cherry tomato corn halloumi salad
Christopher Testani

Grilled halloumi cheese looks beautiful on the plate and is spectacular to eat. Here it's paired with a trio of seasonal ingredients—corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, and arugula—for a bright summer salad.

12 of 18

Cauliflower Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

cauliflower salad with chickpeas
Bobbi Lin

Sweet meets savory in this vegetarian main course salad, thanks to the genius combination of crispy chickpeas, blanched green beans, thinly sliced cauliflower, and dried currants, which are dressed with a mustard-saffron-honey vinaigrette.

13 of 18

Black-Eyed-Pea-Salad with Celery

black‑eyed‑pea salad with celery
Chris Simpson

Dress up two cans of black beans with diced red onion, sliced celery, chopped parsley, and oil and vinegar. The beans offer so much fiber and protein that this salad can easily be enjoyed as your main course.

14 of 18

Butter-Lettuce Salad with Egg and Potatoes

Butter-Lettuce Salad with Egg and Potatoes
Alpha Smoot

We like to top this salad with a fried egg, but you could swap in a poached or soft-boiled egg, or even an omelet, if you prefer.

15 of 18

Roasted Sweet-Potato and Farro Salad

Ryan Liebe

Savory, sweet, and nutty all at once, this is a salad that can be enjoyed warm or chilled. Keep the skins on sweet potatoes to save time, fiber, and nutrients—when roasted, they offer a great textural contrast to the creamy flesh.

16 of 18

Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad

Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad

Add grilled eggplant to the classic caprese salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil for a summer vegetable extravaganza. Enjoy it as a starter or a side, or serve it with crusty Italian bread as a vegetarian main dish.

17 of 18

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Reminiscent of tabbouleh, this hearty salad combines bulgur wheat with grape tomatoes, parsley, and tangy goat cheese. Excellent at room temperature, this one-serving recipe is a great choice for a take-along lunch.

18 of 18

Bean, Corn, and Tortilla Salad

Bean, Corn, and Tortilla Salad

This healthy taco-style salad begins with a bed of romaine lettuce and baked tortilla chips. Heat pinto beans, frozen corn, and salsa in the microwave to make the warm topping.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles