10 Classic DIY Salad Creations

To honor National Salad Week (seriously… ) we’ve devised a list of our top 10 all-time favorite – and Mark’s Daily Apple-approved – salad recipes…

…and to think, you thought you’d never crave lettuce!

1. Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad

What’s not to love about this hearty (and protein packed) salad?

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 bacon slices, cooked
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken (leftovers work best!)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup of blue cheese

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange lettuce in the bottom of a plate or shallow bowl. Feel free to get artsy arranging the rest of the ingredients (rows of vegetables are a popular method, but if you feel like just chucking it all in, go ahead!).

For the dressing, whisk together the wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Once combined, drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Add to salad and serve immediately.

2. Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

If you thought Chinese chicken salad was off limits because of the sugary dressing and oodles of noodles, you’ll love this quick and easy recipe!

1 large chicken breast, grilled or broiled
1 large bowl of lettuce
1 large tomato, sliced into wedges
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup snap peas
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup slivered almonds (with these, you’ll never miss the noodles!)
Hot peppers (optional)

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey (or 1 packet of Splenda or other sugar substitute of your choice)
1/4 tsp of ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously with a whisk until well blended. Allow to cool and then pour over salad. Serve immediately.

3. Mark’s 2 Minute Salad (The Kitchen Sink)

We’ve covered this one before, and it was a hit. Here’s the video one more time!

4. Greek Salad

Greek Salad

This one will having you wanting to yell oopa!

4-5 ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1/2 can black olives
1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Oregano (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together all salad dressing ingredients. Pour over and serve.

5. Steak and Arugula Salad

Steak and Arugula Salad

Another opportunity to have steak for a meal? Sign us up!

1/2 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large head Belgian endive, sliced crosswise
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rings
3 cups fresh baby arugula
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ounces Gorgonzola, coarsely crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts
1 pound of steak (we recommend New York, rib-eye or filet mignon) panfried or grilled and then chilled

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the romaine lettuce, endive, red onion, arugula and tomatoes, walnuts and half of the cheese. Toss the salad with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter. Cut the steaks crosswise into thin slices. Arrange on top of the salad, add remaining salad, drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

6. Grilled Salmon Salad

Salmon Salad

This is one of our favorites. How can you go wrong with fresh vegetables and a fillet of grilled salmon?

2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 red onion, sliced thin
4 8oz salmon fillets
6 cups mixed salad greens
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp yellow mustard (Dijon works best!)
1 tbsp vinegar
1-2 tbsp honey (or 1-2 packets of preferred sugar substitute)
Paprika to taste

Toss bell peppers, squash, and 1 tbsp. of the dressing. Place on grill, cover, and grill until crisp-tender, about 2-4 minutes each side. Then brush salmon with 2 tbsp. of the dressing and place on grill. Cook for 5-7 minutes until salmon flakes easily when tested with fork. Arrange mixed salad greens on plate, top with vegetable mixture and place salad on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing. This one serves 4.

7. Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad

Although traditionally served with potatoes, with a flavorful recipe like this, you’ll never realize they’re missing!

2 8oz tuna steaks, grilled (in a pinch, canned tuna can also work!)
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 medium heads Boston lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
8 ounces green beans, timed and halved and boiled 3-5 minutes until crisp
1/4 cup niçoise olives
2 tbsp capers, rinsed or several anchovies (optional)

1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl. Season as needed with salt and pepper and toss about ¼ of mixture with salad greens until coated. Arrange lettuce on serving platter. Cut tuna into ½ inch thick slices, coat with ¼ of vinaigrette and arrange atop lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion in ¼ of vinaigrette and add on top of the salad. Toss cooked beans with vinaigrette and add to platter. Finally, arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle with remaining dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if desired) and serve immediately.

8. Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad

Yes, this one has a ton of fruit, but for a salad this good, even Grok would have made an exception!

1/2 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup celery, finely sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise (plain yogurt also makes a good substitute)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups of lettuce

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or yogurt) and the lemon juice. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange salad on a platter or shallow bowl, spoon mixture over the top and serve.

9. Chop Salad

Chop Salad

Similar to Mark’s 2 Minute Salad, this chopped salad can be adjusted at any point to include whatever’s in season (or stocked in your fridge!)

3 cups chopped romaine
1 English cucumber, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 strips crumbled bacon
1/2 cup brine-cured black olives, pitted and quartered

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking until combined. Combine vegetables in a bowl, toss with dressing and serve immediately.

10. Insalata Caprese

Caprese Salad

A refreshing salad perfect for a lazy summer evening:

2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup fresh basil or arugula leaves, washed and patted dry

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (only if using arugula)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange tomatoes, basil and mozzarella on large platter overlapping each other. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add salt, pepper and oregano (if necessary) to taste.

wickenden, chotda, bmann, Another Pint Please…, ohdearbarb, paul goyette, key lime pie, Chris Campbell, lebovox Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings

2 Minute Salad

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure

DIY – Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Oh My!

Modern Forager: What Exactly is Fat-Free Italian Dressing?

TAGS:  cooking tips, DIY

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35 thoughts on “10 Classic DIY Salad Creations”

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  1. Besides salads, large lettuce leaves are perfect for making “sandwiches”; instead of slapping your favorite meats, cheeses and veggies on two pieces of bread, roll it up in lettuce.

  2. Great suggestion, dragonmamma. I love to do this with stir-fry. Saute up some veggies and chicken, wrap it in some butter lettuce, top with bean sprouts and either cheese (feta) or sour cream and you’ve got a delicious meal.

  3. Yum, yum, yum! I LOVE salads, and can’t wait to try some of the ones you listed. I think the important thing is to set aside some time to slice up a bunch of veggies, then when it comes time to make the salad, it’s much quicker and you’re more likely to want to make one because you know it won’t take long. Otherwise, you’re more tempted to reach for something quicker and maybe not so healthy…

    1. My salad prep routine is to get out the food processor and a big tupperware container. I shred some green and purple cabbage, and some carrot, with the food processer. Since your not putting anything sticky in the processor it’s just a quick rinse to clean up. Slaw goes in the container. Then I chop up some parsley. Into the container. Next I wash and spin a whole head of butter lettuce. That goes on top of everything else. When it’s salad time, I pull out my container. Lettuce gets a quick chop, add my slaw on top, add a few extras like cucumber or tomato, and that’s it.

  4. Oh my Lord the Cobb salad!! My girlfriend and I could live on the Cobb salad, anytime you can get turkey, bacon and blue cheese on anything you almost have to absolutely love it. The Cobb is my favorite because it is next to impossible to consume a Cobb and leave unsatisfied.

  5. These recipes are making me hungry! I’m dying for a Waldorf salad now… and I have a tree that is about to fall over it’s so loaded with apples. Perfect! That Cobb salad looks awesome. I wanted one from my favorite restaurant, but I remembered they put fake crab on it, dang! Maybe they’ll substitute for me. I’m also a big fan of the “lettuce sandwich”, the other day I did turkey and guacamole. So good! And it took a whole 2 minutes to make.

  6. I’m hitting up that steak & arugula. Though, I’ll probably substitute Caesar dressing in. Something about anchovies in a dressing drives me nuts, in a good way.

  7. Great Video Mark and a great salad!
    One thing about a salad you can get creative and use different meats and whip it up different ways. In summertime i love to put cantelope pieces around the edge of my plate, just get creative. One of my favorite is broiled shrimp salad, i gotta say Bon’Apetite’ to that one,
    I Love Shrimp!

  8. How much closer are you to the book completion the primal blueprint?


  9. Thanks for this great post Mark. I have two questions for you – 1) is the fat in mayo your friend too? I saw that one of the recipes had a large mayo content in the dressing. And 2) when you add honey or a sugar substitute to something (like a salad dressing), does the body respond (insulin response) the same way as it would if it were real sugar? Thanks

  10. Great salad suggestions and fantastic blog. I got inspired and made myself a delicious and healthy steak salad with homemade balsalmico right now. Diggin’ in. 🙂

  11. Honey, like table sugar, is both sucrose and fructose and has the same sort of insulin response. Note however the small amounts called for in the recipes. If I recall correctly, 1 tbsp of honey is about 16 g sugar. Many of the above salad recipes (and accompanying dressings) make more than one serving.

    Sugar substitutes are another story altogether:

    On the Question of Sweeteners

  12. I like a little balsamic vinegar on my caprese. Here in Italy the mozzarella is different than the stuff I was used to in the states (you know, the “Precious” brand), a lot less salt and not a bunch of flavor so a little balsamic jazzes things right up! There is almost always olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table here.

    My other favorite Italian appetizer (yes, caprese is usually an appetizer course) is proscuitto and cantaloup, not sure if that has an Italian name! And I’m not sure where cantaloup falls on the PB spectrum of acceptable fruit, but it’s better than a breaded and fried appetizer, right????

  13. Great post! Wow, gorgeous salad pictures and great ideas. I love main dish salads. I make them often, and teach a lot of classes where I focus on side and main dish salads.

    I’ve made a similar Waldorf salad with tuna or chicken added, really delish!

    Nice video too! Looks like you have a great kitchen.

    1. Helo chef. Very lovely salad an call me on my nom plz i wan to tolk wid u plz if u dnt imnd +919930664247

  14. i am confused. i thought peas and beans were legumes and therefore considered bad for you due to the antinutrients. two of the salads call for these.

    am i missing something?? i’ll be very happy if i can once again eat these items as they used to be faves.

  15. oh – and i also noticed that mark added snap peas to his 2 minute salad on the video. so he must be eating these regularly??

  16. I didn’t think cheese and dairy in general was allowed on a paleo diet. Why is there feta in some of these salads?

  17. GREAT WEB SITE–Have you read EAT TO LIVE by DR JOEL FUHRMAN –he is a doctor that proposes a similar low grain, hi veg diet for health and to eliminate diabetes in 3 weeks.
    Also video rawfor30days ?

  18. Great salad list, thanks! On the greek salad, something that changes it from “stuff chunked together” into The Divine Food is to cut everything about the size of your fingernail, everything the same size, mix it together, add dressing and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. I add sweet peppers as well. The small-size chunks make it a ‘wet’ salad even without the dressing, the time in the fridge helps the flavors meld, and making everything small the same size also helps the flavors meld rather than be so individual. This is really an exceptional salad. I detest green veggies and plenty of ‘modern’ salads but that one is something special!

  19. I am still researching/learning about this lifestyle/diet and I am picking up the book at the library tonight, but I thought dairy (cheese) wasn’t a part of a paleo diet. Are blue cheese and feta different than say cheddar cheese? And are they allowed? If so, I love cobb salad!!

  20. I have a hard time with the sugar substitutes , especially the splenda and it’s chemical compound is so close to chlorine, honey and maple syrup are good natural alternatives for sugar and you dont need too much. our bodies are not geared to process chemicals such as splenda.

  21. Cobb Salad is now my go-to “party salad”. I loved your list. And don’t get me started on Caprese, such a simple and at the same time beautiful salad. Jesus I am of to my fridge :))