By Cora L. Diekman

Published on May 10, 2016

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Photography by THERECIPECRITIC

by Cora L Diekman

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

 

Assemble everything the night before, and store the dressing separate to keep ingredients crisp and crunchy until lunchtime (as with any salad prepped in advance).  The beauty of this delicious recipe is the tasty homemade Strawberry Balsamic Dressing which packs tons of bright flavor (and a full one cup of fresh strawberries).  Of course, the homemade dressing is highly recommended, but if time is critical, best quality store bought vinaigrette will work in a pinch.

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Photography by LECREMEDELACRUMB

Chicken Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

 

OMG, yum!  Just hearing the name of this salad makes us crave a bite.  Lots of super fresh Greek-inspired flavors make this salad perfect for lunchtime noshing.  The homemade tzatziki dressing is everything here, so if you’re looking for a shortcut, pick up a store bought rotisserie chicken instead.  Also, while Greek feta is super delicious, Bulgarian feta cheese (found at specialty markets) is much more moist and far creamier than its crumbly Greek cousin.

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Photography by WELLPLATED

Super Summer Detox Salad

 

It happens to all of us – late nights, too many cocktails, too many helpings of your BFF’s world famous uber-spicy Bufffalo chicken dip at last weekend’s BBQ – whatever.  We all feel the need to detox every now and then, and there’s no better time than summer when produce is at its freshest.  The idea of a ‘super food’ salad may have you feeling skeptical, but there are so many yummy flavors going on here we’re betting this will become a summer salad go-to.  Kale, quinoa, cherries, chickpeas, walnuts, and artichoke hearts create the ‘super food’ ingredient list, and a simple olive oil-lemon juice vinaigrette keeps things moist and lightly flavorful.  Bonus: kale doesn’t wilt as quickly as lettuce, so if you have leftovers, this salad will still taste fresh the next day.

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Photography by MOMONTIMEOUT

Best Ever Broccoli Salad

 

Broccoli, like kale, makes a great salad ingredient for two important reasons – it’s way healthy, and stays crisp long after topped with dressing.  Broccoli salad has long been a picnic fave, and there’s no reason NOT to mix up a batch for weekday lunches, too.  This recipe calls for light mayo, but you can easily swap it out for Greek yogurt for a healthier, more protein-packed alternative.

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Photography by CARLSBADCRAVINGS

Berry Feta Salad with Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing

 

If summer berries call your name, this salad is a must.  Of course you can swap in whatever berries and fruit you like best, but this colorful trifecta of strawberries, blueberries, is kiwi are over-the-top tempting.  Assemble everything the night before (keeping dressing separate, of course) and mix together just before eating.  Tip: berries of all types begin to breakdown immediately after washing, so tackle this step last for best results.

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Photography by JULIASALBUM

Broccoli Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

 

There’s no rule that salad can’t be hearty and sinfully flavorful.  When you need a lunch guaranteed to keep you full and satisfied for hours to come, this pasta salad is ideal.  Packing tons of flavor and nearly all four food groups, it’s a one-pot-meal that also doubles as a perfect picnic side.  Bonus: this is one of those magical recipes that actually gets better as it sits, so making this salad the night before is actually recommended.

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Photography by THERECIPECRITIC

Candied Walnut and Pear Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

 

Yes, you had us as ‘Candied Walnut’.  For a simple, yet complex flavor mix of sweet and briny, combine ripe fruit, candied walnuts (store bought), and salty feta.  Of course, the homemade Lemon Poppyseed dressing is a must, but we promise not to tell if you sub in best quality store bought.  And, for an added punch of protein, top with shreds of warm rotisserie chicken.  Yum!

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Photography by WICKEDSPATULA

Italian Sub Salad

 

This simple mix is everything you LOVE about an Italian sub, in salad form.  Key to the authentic Italian Sub flavor is the homemade vinaigrette, so set aside an extra 30 seconds to mix it up (seriously, it’s that quick).  Leave out the meat for a veggie version of this salad, or add in cubes of bread or croutons for a heartier meal.

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Photography by FOODIECRUSH

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese

 

This salad is both light and filling, thanks to the addition of creamy fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.  Without any delicate greens to worry about, you can confidently prep this dish the day before and look forward to a fresh and flavorful lunch the following day.  Enjoy as is, or pair with a hunk of crusty bread for a more hearty meal.

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Photography by GIMMESOMEOVEN

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

 

Light and yet totally filling, this Mediterranean Pasta Salad hits all of the right summertime notes.  Fresh tomatoes and cucumber combine with salty feta and olives to create a simple salad full of yummy flavor.  Bonus: the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is light enough that this salad could be mixed the night before (with the dressing) without fear of mushy pasta the next day.

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Photography by WILLCOOKFORFRIENDS

Asian Sesame Cucumber Salad

 

Get out that spiralizer!  This yummy Asian-inspired veggie salad is seriously healthy, and yet cleverly resembles Chinese lo mein.  Yes, actual noodles are great, but this salad packs lots of unique crunch and fresh flavor by way of cucumbers, carrots, lime juice, honey, toasted sesame oil, scallions, and cilantro.  For so much complex flavor, the ingredient list is actually short, and there are plenty of ways to layer up – like adding chicken or shrimp for even more flavor and a shot of protein.

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Photography by LECREMEDELACRUMB

Honey Mustard Chicken Chopped Salad

 

Chicken and honey mustard go together like the salad version of PB+J.  It’s a restaurant staple and a lunchtime fav, so why NOT make your own and save a few dollars in the process?  Warning – this is a hearty, filling, fullstop meal in a bowl, so if you’re seeking a lighter,  low-cal salad…keep scrolling.  And to send this yum-tastic salad to the next level, DO make the homemade Honey Mustard Dressing.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Photography by NOMINGTHRULIFE

Fattoush Salad

 

If you have a favorite local Middle Eastern or Mediterranean restaurant, chances are you’ve tasted this delicious salad before.  It usually includes toasted pieces of broken pita bread mixed together with greens, veggies, or both, and lots of fresh herby flavor.  In this recipe, the flavor is in the dressing, so DO NOT skip this step.  And for best texture, wait to add in your pita bread until just prior to eating.

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Photography by COOKINGCLASSY

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad with Lemon Honey Ginger Dressing

 

Mandarin chicken salads are another restaurant fav, and can be easily mixed at home for a fraction of the cost.  This mix makes 4 servings, so keep the dressing separate, and you’ll have a fresh and satisfying lunch for at least 2 days, depending on your serving size.  Also, this recipe includes step-by-step instructions for making everything from scratch, but feel free to take a shortcut (if needed) with a rotisserie chicken, or store-bought wonton strips.  Bonus: spinach, unlike lettuce, stays firm even after meeting up with dressing, so this salad is guaranteed to be mush-free.

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Photography by BUDGETBYTES

Thai Cucumber Salad

 

When you’re reaching for a healthy side to a sandwich or burger – something other than chips or fries – this salad is a great alternative.  It calls for only a few highly flavorful ingredients, and the salad gets better the longer it sits.  Warning: the end result is a bit spicy, so go easy on the red pepper flakes if you’re sensitive to spice.

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Photography by RECIPETINEATS

Satay Chicken Noodle Salad

 

This is one serious, all-business salad that’s hearty enough to serve for dinner, too.  There’s a lot of chicken and noodle going on here with plenty of creamy peanut dressing – yes, you may even forget you’re eating a salad.  PLEASE make the dressing yourself, and don’t worry if the ‘salad’ portion of the meal seems lacking – just double up if you crave more veg.

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Photography by DIETHOOD

Avocado Egg Salad

 

While this recipe looks ultra rich and creamy, it’s actually a healthy take on egg salad, made with nonfat yogurt and low-fat sour cream.  Avocado adds an extra hit of creaminess, and fresh dill and bacon ensure this salad is anything but boring.  Eat with a fork, or pile high on a piece of toast with slices of salted fresh tomato on the side.

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Photography by THECOZYAPRON

Rainbow Fruit Salad with Citrus-Honey Dressing and Fresh Mint

 

Another healthy side to pair with a sandwich, this is no ordinary fruit salad.  The super-yummy dressing includes honey and lots of fresh orange and lime flavor – not to mention a zesty sprinkle of fresh mint over top.  Keep the dressing separate from sliced fruit until lunchtime, and eat immediately.

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Photography by DAMNDELICIOUS

Shrimp Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

 

This is actually two recipes in one – top this yummy Shrimp Cobb Salad with your favorite dressing, or mix up the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette for a flavorful Mexican-inspired topper.  Combine everything the night before (except for the dressing) and serve cold.  Tip: keep reading for additional dressing ideas that would also pair perfectly with shrimp.

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Photography by LIVEANDLEARN

Mexican Street Corn Salad

 

Who doesn’t love the deliciousness of Mexican street corn?  All of that flavorful grilled corn topped with creamy Mexican crumbling cheese – it’s just too tempting to resist.  This yummy recipe turns those flavors into a tasty salad, which also adds in black beans, bell pepper, garlic, and a few other ingredients for the ultimate lunchtime treat.

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Photography by CULLINARYHILL

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing

 

If all you need is a delicious, blow-your-mind dressing to top a salad, go creamy with this Mexican-inspired dressing made ultra rich with Greek yogurt.  Five other ingredients (including salt) round out this simple recipe that comes together in seconds in the food processor.  This seriously versatile dressing is naturally gluten free, and may be stored in the fridge until the expiration date of your yogurt.

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Photography by CARLSBADCRAVINGS

Asian Peanut Coconut Dressing

 

If you crave creamy dressing with an Asian twist, this 5-minute blender dressing tastes like heaven in a jar.  And, it’s seriously versatile, too.  Of course you can use it to top any salad, but it also makes an excellent dipping sauce for chicken, pork, or even fruit.  The creaminess is the result of a creative combination of Greek yogurt and peanut butter, with tons of bold flavor add-ins like chili sauce, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and red curry paste.

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Photography by THESEASONEDMOM

Aunt Bee’s Shrimp and Pasta Salad

 

Life calls for one sinfully creamy salad every now and then.  And before you think that this recipe is all about mayonnaise, think again – dill, lemon juice, and vinegar also help to create a dressing that’s super flavorful and tangy.  Shrimp sets this macaroni salad apart from the rest, but it would be equally delicious with grilled or rotisserie chicken.

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Photography by IOWAGIRLEATS

Shrimp and Avocado Taco Salad

 

Yes, you can prep this the night before!  Just be sure to keep shrimp, salad mix, and tortilla chips separate until lunchtime, and you’ll have a fresh restaurant-quality salad waiting for you the next day.  Make extra shrimp to last for several lunches, and consider swapping in chicken for a different take on this Mexican-inspired meal.

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Photography by THEHONOURSYSTEM

Crunchy Chicken and Avocado Salad

 

For a Paleo-approved, gluten-free take on a lunchtime salad, mix up a batch of this chicken salad, packed full of yummy texture.  Celery, pecans, and diced onion add crunchy contrast to the creamy ‘sauce’ created by the avocado.  Bonus: this recipe makes 4-6 servings, and will stay fresh and crunchy for more than a day.

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Photography by GIMMESOMEOVEN

Easy Asian Quinoa Slaw

 

This recipe is a winner for so many reasons – it’s healthy, simple to make, gets better the longer it sits, AND it’s super versatile.  Eat as a side, use it to top a burger or sandwich, or add in some chicken for a tasty and satisfying meal.  Tip: this recipe uses a homemade Asian Honey Vinaigrette, but best quality store bought will work too.

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Photography by MOMONTIMEOUT

Three Bean Wild Rice Salad

 

When a recipe calls for an hour to rest before serving, you know it’s a make-ahead winner.  Simply combine the ingredients and allow the flavors to meld until lunchtime the following day.  For an even more filling take on this yummy salad, stuff into a tortilla and top with guacamole and Mexican crumbling cheese – still vegetarian, but way more filling.

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Photography by MINIMALISTBAKER

Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

 

As this recipe calls for a bit more prep work than others, it’s ideal for foodies and those who like to unwind in the kitchen.  This recipe is a creative take on a kale salad, complete with homemade Roasted Garlic Tahini Dressing and crispy, crunchy chickpeas.  It’s healthy, way different from your average lunch salad, and works perfectly for make-ahead lunches – just keep the dressing separate until time to eat.

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Photography by THECAFESUCREFARINE

Sweet and Spicy Mango Salad Dressing

 

This dressing is too unique and tempting not to mention.  A combination of fresh mango, cumin, chili peppers, cilantro, and a few other key flavor enhancers create this tasty salad topper with TONS of complex sweet-spicy flavor.  A single batch will last up to a week in the refrigerator, and the recipe’s author suggests following the suggested order adding ingredients in the blender for best (and prettiest) results.

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Photography by COOKINGCLASSY

Cranberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Chicken and Orange Poppyseed Dressing

 

Since spinach resists wilting, this salad totally works for make-ahead lunches.  Keep dressing separate, as usual, and chill until lunchtime for the freshest, crispest flavor.  Omit chicken for a veggie alternative to this yummy salad, or consider swapping in shrimp, roasted pork, or even (gasp!) bacon for other tasty protein alternatives.

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Photography by MANTITLEMENT

Salad on a Stick

 

Salad kabobs are a smart way to keep ingredients their freshest while creating a fork-free lunch on the go.  Pack a separate container of dressing, and dip with every delicious bite.  Tip: consider also packing a dessert kabob of fruit and another sweet treat, like brownie bites or marshmallows.

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Photography by CRAVETHEGOOD

Curried Chickpea Salad

 

This is another salad with sandwich possibilities – it makes a tasty side salad, but it’s seriously amazing piled high on your favorite bread.  Also, the recipes’s author promises that everything stays firm and fresh in the fridge, making this ideal for make-ahead lunches.

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Photography by JOCOOKS

Mexican Chicken and Rice Salad

 

Everything in this yummy salad is easy to source at the market, and it works great for make-ahead lunches since it’s lettuce-free.  Of course you can always swap chicken for ground beef or shrimp, and consider bringing along some tortilla chips for true restaurant-style taco salad vibe.  This salad is so hearty that it could double as dinner, too – margaritas mandatory.

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Photography by BIKINISANDPASSPORTS

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

 

Yes, it sound like an unlikely combination, but the nuttiness of pan-grilled asparagus just seems to work with strawberries.  Except for cooking the asparagus, there is very little prep here – you can even buy your pomegranate seeds ready from the supermarket.  Bring along any dressing you like best, and dig in to the seriously healthy, superfood-inspired take on a spinach salad.

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Photography by CINCYSHOPPER

Buffalo Chicken Wing Salad

 

This is less of a recipe than a great idea for instant lunch.  Use up leftover chicken wings, or buy yours readymade at the supermarket, and throw together this super-simple lunch that practically requires zero prep (especially if you use a salad mix).  We all have those nights when making tomorrow’s lunch is the LAST task we feel like tackling.  For those nights, this salad is for you.  True to chicken wing tradition, Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing will be uber-tasty, but use whatever you like best.