Nothing compares to the taste of fresh, crisp salad on a hot summer day. They’re light, flavorful, and refreshing. But compost that iceberg lettuce that’s been sitting in the fridge, and throw out that fatty store-bought dressing; there are so many amazing salad recipes out there that not only taste good, but are good for your health.
We asked several of the culinary geniuses who are often guests on our vegan cruise each year for some of their favorite salad recipes. Here’s what they shared! We also included a summertime treat from the cruise-inspired Greens & Grains on the Deep Blue Sea Cookbook by Sandy Pukel and Mark Hanna.
Give these simple (but oh-so-good) creations a try in your own kitchen and delight your friends and family. You may love them so much that they become your year-round go-tos!
Quinoa and Chickpea Tabbouleh Salad by Julieanna Hever
Known as the Plant-Based Dietitian, Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., has authored four books, including The Vegiterranean Diet, where this recipe can be found. She shares, “I love this salad because it is fresh and simple, yet hearty and satiating.”
Light and herb-infused, this salad is refreshing and extremely nutritious. Traditionally made with bulgur wheat, this gluten-free version boasts similar flavors, but it’s friendly for those eschewing gluten and more substantial because of the added chickpeas.
3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large unpeeled cucumber, seeded and diced
3/4 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest, pepper, salt, and garlic. Fold in the quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and scallions, and combine well.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Magnetic Wild Rice Salad
Rip Esselstyn develops and implements plant-based programs that transform people’s health around the world. He shared with us this recipe from The Engine 2 Cookbook that he co-authored with Jane Esselstyn.
Every year, Jane and her coven of girlfriends and their families gather together for a magical visit at our family farm. There are twenty-two altogether, so they divide up the meal duties among the five families. One of the coven members, Magnetic Pennie, a bright-eyed Dane who draws everyone into her beautiful, colorful world, makes this fresh, colorful wild rice salad for lunch each year. It is a universal hit. Don’t know what to make for your next gathering? This is the ticket.
2 cups cooked wild rice
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cubed
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, in pieces
1 avocado, cubed (optional)
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
Prepare the wild rice as directed on package; this is usually 3:1 water to wild rice ratio. Let cool.
In a beautiful salad bowl, toss together the wild rice, celery, parsley, green onions, apple, oranges, cranberries, walnuts, avocado if using, and vinegar. Taste to see if you prefer more red wine vinegar. It is up to your preference! Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Southwestern Bean Salad
Kim Campbell, author of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook and The PlantPure Kitchen, has developed more than 250 delicious, whole-food, plant-based recipes using no processed oils. She shares with us two recipes from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook: Southwestern Bean Salad and Creamy Kale Salad.
This recipe is for bean lovers. Seasoned perfectly to give it a Southwestern flavor, the beans, corn, and avocado also make is a satisfying salad that everyone will love.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
One 15-ounces can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup medium diced red onion
1 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine beans and vegetables in a large bowl. Don’t hesitate to add different vegetables depending on what is in season.
- Blend vinegar, lime juice, maple syrup, sea salt, cumin, chili powder, and Sriracha in a small bowl. Add more chili powder and Sriracha if you like it spicier!
- Drizzle over beans and vegetables and toss to coat.
- Refrigerate for an hour and then sprinkle with the cilantro before serving.
Creamy Kale Salad
Chopped kale, shredded carrots, and red bell peppers marinated in an almond dressing make this dish not only delicious, but nutrient dense. Kale has never tasted so good!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons ginger, pureed
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
2 bunches curly kale, chopped with stems removed
2 carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 radishes, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, raw or toasted (for garnishing)
- In a blender, add the dressing ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
- Place the chopped kale in a large mixing bowl and pour the dressing over the kale.
- Massage with hands until the kale is tender, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the remaining veggies and toss until well combined. Cover and refrigerate the salad for an hour or two, allowing it to rest and absorb the flavors.
- Garnish with sunflower seeds before serving.
Quinoa Salad with Currants & Pistachios
Chef AJ has helped many people achieve the health and body that they want and deserve. She has been devoted to a plant-exclusive diet for more than four decades. In addition to being a television host and chef, she is also an author. Here she shares two recipes. The Quinoa Salad with Currants & Pistachios is from Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight (2011). The OMG Watermelon Salad is from her newest book, The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss.
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 (makes 8 cups)
2½ cups water
1¼ cups (8 ounces) uncooked quinoa
½ cup lime juice (about 3 large limes)
3 tablespoons lime zest (from the 3 limes above)
4 medium green onions (scallions), chopped
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, packed (1 ounce), finely chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed (1 ounce), finely chopped
1 cup currants
½ cup raw, unsalted pistachios, whole or coarsely chopped
½ cup pomegranate seeds (when in season)
- To cook the quinoa, place it in a medium saucepan along with the water. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. After cooking, set the quinoa aside to cool. (The quinoa may also be cooked ahead of time so that it is completely cooled when you are ready to assemble the salad.)
- To zest the limes, use a Microplane or other small-toothed grater, and then juice the limes (it’s much easier to zest any citrus before juicing it).
- Once the quinoa has cooled, place it into a large bowl and add all of the other ingredients, including lime juice and zest. Mix thoroughly. Serve immediately or chill to serve later.
If you do not have limes, orange juice and zest work well; raisins or chopped, dried cherries work well in place of currants; and chopped pecans work well in place of pistachios.
Quinoa comes in various colors: white/yellow, red, black, or a mix of all three. Any color works in this recipe; the multi-colored quinoa gives it even more visual appeal.
This is a great party or special occasion dish for 6 to 8 people. Double the recipe if you are serving a larger group.
(Chef AJ’s recipe was reprinted in Straight Up Food.)
OMG Watermelon Salad
Lime juice and zest
Cube and seed the watermelon and cucumber. Add fresh mint and lime, to taste.
Chill before serving.
Jessica Porter is the author of The MILF Diet and The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics. One of her favorite dishes is this Spelt Salad. When she shared it with us, she included this note: “This is a colorful and satisfying grain salad I got from my friend Sarah Loring of Connecticut. Her food—like her—has a certain gracefulness.”
1 1/2 cups spelt, soaked overnight
4 cups water
a pinch of sea salt
1 small red onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced small
1/4 red cabbage, diced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons shoyu
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of white pepper
Rinse spelt and soak overnight. Drain and place in pan with 4 cups water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour. Pour into a colander (in the sink), draining any remaining liquid, and set aside to cool.
Dice vegetables and put in a large bowl. Add remaining seasonings and mix. Toss with cooled spelt. Taste and adjust seasonings.
If you let the salad sit for an hour or more before serving, the flavor deepens and becomes more complex.
This is wonderful and refreshing served on fresh lettuce leaves and goes with just about everything.
With innovative recipes on familiar themes, Greens and Grains on the Deep Blue Sea Cookbook by Sandy Pukel and Mark Hanna features more than a hundred plant-based dishes. Try this delicious salad for your next cookout!
This deliciously exotic salad is oil free.
Serves: 6 to 8
2 cups arame (half 1.75-ounce package)
2 cups apple juice
3 tablespoon shoyu
3 oranges, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
5 cups watercress (large stems removed)
1/4 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
- Rinse and drain the arame, then place in a medium saucepan. Add the apple juice and let soak 10 minutes.
- Bring the arame-apple juice mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the shoyu and simmer 5 minutes more. Drain the arame and let cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the cooled arame, oranges, and watercress. Toss gently, garnish with almonds, and serve immediately.
- Substitute hijiki for the arame.
- Toss in some julienne-cut daikon.
- Instead of orange pieces, use grapefruit pieces and grapefruit juice, or apple pieces and apple juice. (If using apples, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.)