What to serve with salad – 27 Top best side dishes

Salads can be a light and refreshing side dish, but what do you serve with them to make it into a complete meal?

Whether you’re looking for something light and healthy or something more hearty and comforting, then just stay with me.

I will share with you a few of my favorite side dishes that pair perfectly with salads! So, try these dishes to give your taste bud a wow effect.

A Quick solution for what to serve with Salad -

Grains & Beans, Bread & Baked Goods, Proteins, Baked Potato Wedges, Grilled Vegetables, Quinoa Pilaf, Tex-Mex Chicken Meatball Salad, Warm French Goat's Cheese Salad, Butter Bean, Tuna, and Celery Salad, Seared Salmon, Watercress, and Potato Salad With Olive Dressing, Green Papaya Salad, Citrus Salad with Hazelnut-Dijon Dressing, Juicy Steak-and-Tomato Salad, Greek Grilled Chicken Salad, Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Black-Eyed Pea-Watercress Salad with Corn Bread Croutons, Kale and Chicken Pita Salad, Pearl Couscous Salad, Snow Peas, and Sausage, Gingery Watercress-and-Cherry Salad, Pear Salad with blue cheese, Ginger-Miso Grilled Chicken Slaw, Steak-and-Potato Salad, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad, Caesar Salad with Meatballs, Spinach-and-Barley Salad with Grilled Pork, Tarragon Tuna Salad.

Do you really need side dishes to pair up with Salads?

Although salads are a healthy, nutritious meal option on their own, side dishes can be the perfect complement to any salad.

From adding texture and flavor with crunchy croutons or nuts to an extra helping of protein with grilled chicken or beans, side dishes can help elevate your salad creation.

There’s also the advantage of incorporating a variety of tastes and colors for visual appeal.

Moreover, side dishes that seamlessly partner with salads can free up time for you when preparing meals, as many are quick and easy.

Experimenting with what to pair with your salads is part of the excitement and makes eating salad an entertaining experience rather than something mundane or routine.

What are the best flavors to go with any salad?

When it comes to salad dressings, you can either go classic or creative.

Classic flavors—think olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice—bring out the natural flavor of the ingredients but are delicious in their own right. 

If you’re looking to branch out, zesty vinaigrettes featuring bolder flavors like honey mustard, ranch, and cilantro lime add a heady kick without overpowering the salad.

For a creamy finish, try adding some classic tahini-based dressings as well as Greek yogurt-based sauces for an extra healthy topping.

With so many options to choose from, there is sure to be something perfect for your next leafy masterpiece!

What is the best way to serve a salad as a main course on any occasion?

Serving salad as a main course is a great way to get a nutritious and delicious meal on the table in no time.

With so many available choices, you can easily customize the ingredients to suit your dietary restrictions or personal preferences.

Start off with a bed of greens – like spinach, kale, or romaine lettuce – and top it with proteins such as grilled chicken, roasted veggies, hard-boiled eggs, beans, or nuts.

Next, add crunchy vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots, plus flavors like tomatoes, onions, garbanzo beans, olives, and mushrooms—the possibilities are endless!

Finally, mix up some homemade dressing using fresh herbs and spices; mustards work particularly well.

Or consider adding feta cheese or cotija for additional flavor. With a small creativity and effort, you can create an amazing salad that’s sure to be enjoyed by everyone at the table!

Best side dishes served with salad  

1. Grains & Beans 

A great way to round out your salad is by adding grains and beans such as quinoa, farro, or lentils. Grains and beans are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

Plus, they add flavor and texture to the salad. You can cook them in advance and store them in the fridge so that you can quickly add them to your salad whenever you need them.

Try tossing cooked grains into your salad along with some roasted vegetables for a delicious lunchtime meal.

2. Bread & Baked Goods 

Bread and baked goods are other great options when you’re looking for something to serve with your salad.

If you’re trying to stick with a healthier diet, try whole grain breads or pita chips instead of white bread or crackers.

You can also opt for healthier baking options like oat muffins or whole wheat scones.

These baked goods will add a touch of sweetness to your meal without being too heavy or overbearing.

3. Proteins 

If you want to turn your salad into an entrée instead of just a side dish, then proteins are definitely the way to go.

There are lots of different options depending on what type of protein you prefer – chicken breast, steak strips, fish filets, tofu cubes – all these will work well in salads. 

Simply cook your protein of choice according to instructions and toss it into your salad before serving it up warm or cold.

The added protein will help keep you full longer and give you more sustenance than just eating greens alone would provide.

4. Baked Potato Wedges 

One of my the most favorite side dish options for salads is potato wedges.

These baked potatoes have a delicious crunchy exterior and a soft interior, making them the perfect accompaniment for your salad.

To make these at home, you just simply cut up some potatoes into wedges and season them with salt and pepper before baking them in the oven until golden brown.

For an extra flavor kick, you can add some herbs and spices like rosemary or chili powder!

5. Grilled Vegetables 

Grilled vegetables are another great option for a side dish when serving salads. You can grill almost any type of vegetable, such as zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. 

Make sure to brush the vegetables with olive oil before grilling to prevent them from sticking. Once cooked through, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

6. Quinoa Pilaf 

Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains you can eat, so it makes sense that it would pair well with salads.

Quinoa pilaf is easy to make at home by cooking quinoa in a pot on the stovetop with some chicken broth and seasoning as desired.

quinoa pilaf is a good dish to serve with salad
Quinoa Pilaf 

This dish is packed full of protein and fiber, which will help keep you feeling full longer after eating your salad. 

7. Tex-Mex Chicken Meatball Salad

Tex-Mex Chicken Meatball Salad is the perfect way to get a healthy and flavorful lunch or dinner on the table.

It is packed with proteins, like juicy, tender chicken meatballs, and nutrient-dense veggies, like peppers and onions, creating a colorful and delicious dish.

Plus, there’s just enough heat to tantalize your taste buds. This salad can easily be modified by adding more vegetables or salsa if you prefer it spicier.

Serve it with a side of crunchy tortilla chips for a full mouth-watering meal that also happens to be good for you!

8. Warm French Goat’s Cheese Salad

Warm French Goat’s Cheese Salad is a wonderful dish for any night of the week, yet special enough to serve to your family and friends.

Start by heating olive oil in a pan until it is hot, then add a clove of garlic and thyme. Add cubed goat’s cheese and fry until golden; then spoon onto salad leaves. 

To make the dressing, mix together honey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt with extra virgin olive oil.

Toss the leaves lightly in the dressing and serve sprinkled with walnuts on top. Enjoy this warm salad as an appetizer or simply serve it as your main course.

9. Butter Bean, Tuna, and Celery Salad

This delicious Butter Bean, Tuna, and Celery Salad are absolutely perfect for those looking to enjoy a meal that offers a wide range of flavors.

Not only is it easy to make and a great source of protein, but it’s also full of vitamins and minerals thanks to all the ingredients involved.

Make sure you add some freshly ground pepper and extra virgin olive oil for an added boost in flavor, as well as red onion for an extra crunch. 

Enjoy this heart-healthy salad for lunch or dinner – your body will thank you!

More: Perfect Salads Pair with Trout

10. Seared Salmon, Watercress, and Potato Salad With Olive Dressing

Enjoying a delicious and healthful meal is always a treat, and this seared salmon, watercress, and potato salad with olive dressing is no exception.

This dish has all the flavor that you could want from an ideal dinner as well as all the nutrients your body needs.

Both watercress and potatoes provide key vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system functioning optimally.

To top it all off, the subtly sweet yet zesty olive dressing is just enough to bring out all the colors in every bite while still being light on calories. 

So trust us when we say this dish will not only delight your dinner guests but also nourish your body in all the right ways.

11. Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad is a traditional Thai dish that combines unripe papaya, sometimes known as raw or green papaya, with vegetables and a flavorful dressing.

The secret to a successful Green Papaya Salad lies in creating the perfect balance of ingredients – for example, between the crunchiness of the green papaya, the sweet, nutty flavor of garlic and peanuts, and the gentle heat of chili peppers.

Using a mortar and pestle to pound together these ingredients helps to coax out their individual personalities.

green papaya salad is a good side dish to serve with salad
Green Papaya Salad

Additional variations can be included, such as shredded carrot or edamame beans for full texture, lime juice or tamarind paste for extra zing, and fish sauce adding depth.

Topped off with fresh herbs such as mint or cilantro, Green Papaya Salad is an incredibly refreshing dish with unlimited possibilities that are bound to tantalize your taste buds!

12. Citrus Salad with Hazelnut-Dijon Dressing

You must try Citrus salad with a hazelnut-dijon dressing is a vibrant, flavorful dish that is sure to be a hit at any gathering.

Start by combining pieces of your favorite citrus fruit in a large bowl.

Once you have your desired mix of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, lightly sauce them with the hazelnut-dijon dressing.

This combination of Dijon mustard, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, and mild olive oil will add a complex yet subtle flavor to the dish.

For an extra kick of zestiness and texture, top with chopped basil leaves before serving. Enjoy this delicious recipe as an appetizer or side entree!

13. Juicy Steak-and-Tomato Salad

A Juicy Steak-and-Tomato Salad is the perfect combination of flavors for a summertime meal. This simple recipe can be prepared in less than thirty minutes, making it perfect for quick weeknight dinners. 

The steak is marinated in a delicious blend of cumin, olive oil, and garlic before being served alongside tomatoes and crunchy romaine lettuce.

Topped off with crumbled feta cheese, this salad gives you all the protein you need to stay fueled throughout your day.

Not only is it a healthy option that won’t leave you feeling weighed down, but its indulgent mix of flavors also makes it an impressive dish to serve at social gatherings.

So if you are looking for a unique way to enjoy steak and tomatoes this season, give this Juicy Steak-and-Tomato Salad a try!

14. Greek Grilled Chicken Salad

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad is an incredibly flavorful and healthy meal choice.

It combines a variety of ingredients like leafy greens, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, and red onion, all topped with grilled chicken marinated in traditional Greek flavors like garlic and oregano.

For extra crunchy texture, the salad is usually finished off with croutons or pita chips to make it even more decadent.

The flavor combination of salty feta cheese, fresh vegetables, and tangy Greek vinaigrette really bring your dish to life!

15. Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Vietnamese Chicken Salad is a delicious and healthy dish that is perfect for any occasion. This flavorful salad is made up of shredded chicken, crunchy veggies, and your favorite dressing.

The combination of the sweetness from the carrots, tartness from the cucumbers, savory flavor from the chicken, and tangy dressing make an unforgettable blend of flavors.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad you can serve on its own as a light meal or even as a side dish for more robust meals.

It’s a great way to enjoy delicious flavors while still getting all the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs!

16. Black-Eyed Pea-Watercress Salad with Corn Bread Croutons

This delicious summertime salad combines two classic summer ingredients: black-eyed peas and watercress.

The black-eyed peas are cooked until al dente and then mixed with juicy slices of sweet corn, crunchy red onions, and bright cherry tomatoes for a hearty and flavorful dish.

To take this dish to the next level, you can add croutons made from crispy homemade cornbread. It’s a delightful contrast that adds texture and flavor to each bite.

The tangy dressing of apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic, chives, and thyme rounds out the flavors.

Serve up this salad warm or cold – it’s sure to be a hit no matter how you serve it!

17. Kale and Chicken Pita Salad

Kale and Chicken Pita Salad is an excellent way to enjoy a nutritious and filling meal.

This salad uses raw kale, grilled chicken strips, feta cheese, onions, tomatoes, olives, and a homemade lemon dressing for a delicious combination of flavors.

The pita pockets provide you an excellent vehicle for the other ingredients to meld together.

This salad can also be served with hummus and tzatziki sauces to add additional Mediterranean flavors.

As a bonus, this meal comes together quickly and easily, so you can enjoy it without having to spend lots of time in the kitchen!

Create your own unique twist on this classic dish by experimenting with different herbs or adding cucumbers or avocado slices.

18. Pearl Couscous Salad

Try Pearl couscous, which is beautiful, versatile, and delicious! This Israeli-style dish is a perfect option for light summer meals or side salads. 

To make a fresh pearl couscous salad, you can simply start with your cooked pearl couscous and add any combination of herbs, vegetables, nuts, or cheese that you prefer.

pearl couscous salad is a good side to serve with salad
Pearl Couscous Salad

Dressing options are endless – use oil and vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil, or any other type of dressing that you like to create a unique taste.

Pearl couscous is the ultimate crowd-pleaser – each person can customize their individual dish to perfectly fit their tastes, making it an excellent choice for your family dinners!

19. Snow Peas and Sausage

Snow peas and sausage are a great combination when it comes to preparing a quick yet delicious meal.

The dish is quite simple to make – the only preparation you need is some light chopping of the vegetables and sausage before adding them together in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, and seasonings of your choice (such as oregano and rosemary).

Allow the mixture to cook until the sausage is cooked through and the snow peas are lightly tender.

Serve this flavorful dish over a bed of rice for an easy, satisfying meal that is perfect for busy weeknights.

20. Gingery Watercress-and-Cherry Salad

My favorite Gingery Watercress-and-Cherry Salad is a simple yet satisfying side dish that is sure to please any palate.

It’s made with vibrant watercress and sweet cherries, plus a hint of ginger for an extra kick. A drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette ties the flavors together in perfect harmony.

For a vegetarian option, you can replace the chicken with firm tofu and use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock; the result will be just as tasty.

Serve with crusty bread or overcooked grains like quinoa to make a complete meal. Enjoy!

21. Pear Salad with blue cheese

Rich and flavorful pear salad with blue cheese is a simple yet delectable dish perfect for summertime meals. 

You can start by thinly slicing the pears and tossing them in a bowl with freshly chopped herbs, such as thyme or oregano, and a gracious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Add crumbled blue cheese and diced walnuts, and mix them together gently. 

To finish off the salad, add a splash of balsamic vinaigrette dressing to suit your taste preference.

This hearty salad can either be served alone or accompanied by grilled seafood or deep-fried meats like calamari or pork chops. Buon appetito!

22. Ginger-Miso Grilled Chicken Slaw

If you’re looking for an easy but delicious meal that perfectly combines sweet, savory, and smoky flavors, try ginger-miso grilled chicken slaw!

This flavor-packed dish is simple to make, with only a handful of ingredients giving it unique complexity.

The sweetness from the miso creates a balance of subtle yet strong tastes, while the ginger adds a hint of spicy smokiness.

Ready in just 30 minutes, this slaw can be easily adapted to fit your own palate. Spice it up or keep it mild- either way, you’ll have an amazing lunch you won’t soon forget!

23. Steak-and-Potato Salad

Steak-and-Potato Salad is a tasty and easy way to enjoy the great flavors of steak and potatoes in a healthy, light meal.

To make this dish, you can start by cubing or slicing the potato into cubes no bigger than one inch and cooking them until they’re soft.

Then cube or slice the steak into slightly smaller pieces before browning it with oil in a skillet.

Put both cooked ingredients together in one bowl, mix it with some salt and pepper, add tomato and onion slices for more flavor, and top it off with your favorite dressing.

This salad can be enjoyed as an entrée alongside some greens or as part of an amazing side dish for any meal.

24. Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad is a hearty, flavorful dish.

It combines farfalle pasta with delicious sun-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto tossed together in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. 

This salad can easily become the main entrée of your meal or a side dish to accompany a fish or meat dish.

To make it even heartier, you can add protein such as chicken, shrimp, or white beans.

An added layer of crunchiness comes from added ingredients such as pine nuts, feta cheese, roasted bell peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, and more.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad not only tastes amazing but also looks spectacular – making it an ideal recipe for any occasion!

25. Caesar Salad with Meatballs

Caesar salad is an iconic dish that has been around since the 1920s, and it’s no wonder why it is so popular.

When the classic vegetables of romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing are combined with protein-like juicy meatballs, the result is a delicious meal option that will have you coming back for more.

The tanginess of the dressing ensures that each bite is packed full of flavor, while the meatballs add an extra layer of texture and richness to complete this delightful dish.

If you’re looking for an easy but tasty meal with minimal effort, try making a Caesar salad with meatballs for your next dinner – you won’t be disappointed!

26. Spinach-and-Barley Salad with Grilled Pork

A delicious, filling salad is an easy way to enjoy a nutritious meal, and this Spinach-and-Barley Salad with Grilled Pork has all the elements. 

You can start by grilling your favorite cut of pork and seasoning it with salt and pepper for full flavor.

Cook the barley in water or chicken broth for about 40 minutes, or until it’s tender but still chewy.

Next, build your salad by combining spinach, diced red onion, roasted almonds, crumbled feta cheese, and cooked barley.

Finally, add some juicy grilled pork chunks that have been diced into bite-sized pieces – don’t forget to top them with your favorite vinaigrette.

Perfect for lunch or dinner, this flavorful dish is sure to hit the spot!

27. Tarragon Tuna Salad

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to elevate your lunchtime menu, look no further than Tarragon Tuna Salad.

Make this nourishing dish in minutes with just five ingredients – tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, and tarragon.

The combination of these flavors makes this savory dish bursting with flavor that is sure to please.

You can serve it on a bed of crunchy greens or whole-grain toast for a healthy, tasty meal that’s perfect for any time of the day!

FAQs on serving with salad as a side dish

Q1. Is salad served after the main course?

The answer to whether salad is served after the main course depends on where you are eating out or hosting a meal. 

In many Western cuisines, especially in North American and European countries, it is common for a salad to appear after the main course as an independent dish or accompanying side.

This tradition of serving salads as a postmeal course has been widely accepted by most restaurants and households in those regions.

Meanwhile, there are other cuisines that traditionally serve salads at the beginning of a meal as more of an appetizer, but they tend to be dressier and composed of smaller ingredients such as pickled vegetables or sliced raw fish.

To sum up, depending on the cuisine, you may find salad served both before and after the main meal.

Q2. What food goes good with salad?

Salads are incredibly versatile and can be served as the main course or a side, depending on how they are prepared. Curried chicken salad can stand on its own, while dishes like a classic Greek salad pair best with larger meals.

No matter how you decide to serve your salad, the right combination of foods will take it to the next level. Delicious delicacies like crumbed feta, almonds, pomegranate seeds, bacon bits, and herbs are all excellent options for adding flavor and texture.

Roasted vegetables also provide interesting flavor combinations when added to salads. Having a variety of nuts, dried fruit, and even crunchy pasta shapes also helps add both texture and taste to make sure each bite is filled with unique experiences.

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