Salads are wonderful main dish options, especially in warm weather. They are cold, refreshing, and quick to fix. Using MyPlate is a great model for building a main dish salad with a sensational combination of scrumptious ingredients that are delicious, nutritious and visually appealing! There is no better way to get a variety of colors and textures that adds interest and flavor to a salad than adding more vegetables and fruits! The possibilities are endless.

6 Simple Steps to Preparing a Main Dish Salad

  1. Salad Greens. Use about two cups of salad greens for each person and place on the plate as a bed for building the salad. These can be bags or containers of premixed salad greens or you can use any combination of salad greens you like. Butter lettuce, leaf lettuce and romaine tend to be mild in flavor. Belgian endive, curly endive, escarole, kale and watercress are mildly tart greens. Grated cabbage can be used with the greens and spinach makes a wonderful bed for the salad.
  2. Fruits & Veggies. Next add about a cup or two of other vegetables and fruits. A few examples of vegetables include broccoli and cauliflower florets, grated or chopped carrots, bell pepper rings or strips, artichoke hearts, whole cherry or grape tomatoes or larger tomatoes can be sliced, quartered or diced, thinly sliced red onion, cucumbers or radishes. Any type of berry, mandarin oranges, apple or pear slices (dip in pineapple or apple juice to prevent browning) or dried fruits like dried cherries, apricots or raisins can be used.
  3. Protein. Now it is time to add some protein. A combination of animal protein and plant based protein can be used if desired. Examples of animal protein include cooked chicken or turkey breast, crab meat, boiled shrimp, sliced grilled salmon filet or hardboiled egg slices. A few plant based protein ideas are garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans and nuts. Remember that nuts are high in fat so use them sparingly.
  4. Dairy. There are many reduced-fat cheeses available that are made with 2% milk including feta, mozzarella and cheddar. Read the nutrition label to find those that are lower in fat.
  5. Dressing. Drizzle lightly with a simple dressing that is big on flavor and low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium. It is easy to adjust the proportions of ingredients in a standard vinaigrette recipe. Many of them use two to three parts oil to one part of vinegar but you can make them using more vinegar and less oil.
  6. Whole Grains. Serve salad with a whole grain roll or whole wheat tortilla to include something from each of the food groups in MyPlate.

How To Prepare Your Main Dish Salad

    • Place about two cups of mixed baby salad greens on plate.
    • Arrange flatter vegetables first including orange bell pepper rings, cucumber slices and jicama wedges on salad greens. Next add cauliflower and broccoli florets, grape tomatoes and chopped carrots.
    • Carefully place sliced strawberries, orange slices and blackberries on salad.
    • Finally add cooked chicken breast slices.
    • Sprinkle with reduced-fat feta cheese.
    • Drizzle a small amount of your favorite salad dressing. Or make your own. Below is a simple vinaigrette salad dressing recipe – so delicious and easy to make!


Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe
Makes 8 tablespoons dressing


    • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ tablespoon finely chopped green onion
    • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Secure the lid and shake to thoroughly mix ingredients.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 8 tablespoons of salad dressing. Each tablespoon contains approximately 35 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 1 gram carbohydrate and 24 milligrams sodium.

Add a whole grain roll and something from every group of MyPlate is included. Enjoy!


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