Versatile chef’s salad is easy to adapt to family member preferences- it’s a quick, one-bowl warm weather meal you can enjoy any time of the year!
As soon as the weather warms up and I’m not craving soups as much, I start thinking about chef’s salads. In fact, if you follow me on Instagram, you saw that we celebrated our unusually warm spring weather by having our first meal outside with – you guessed it – chef’s salads. I l.o.v.e. chef’s salads – the ease, the variety, the way it goes together quickly with whatever you happen to have in your fridge.
But mainly I simply look forward to how refreshing these hearty, one-bowl meals are, which in our opinion are even when eaten outside, though we do find places in our menus for this easy meal all year long.
A chef’s salad pairs wonderfully with homemade artisan or sourdough bread, preferably brushed with a bit of olive oil, smeared with garlic and toasted to perfection on the grill. Of course, grilling some flatbread to accompany the salad would be awesome, too, don’t you think?
Although there are some ‘basic’ ingredients considered necessary for a traditional chef’s salad, like egg and maybe bacon, I pretty much make ours with the “everything-goes” philosophy. I mean, it’s hard to mess this up, isn’t it?
Ideas for Ingredients
I do always aim to have at least one meat and cheese – but two of each is more fun – and I like to include a hardboiled egg, as that seems to me to be something that sets it apart from a regular old salad. And it’s one of our favorite ways to use meat from a whole spiced slow cooker chicken or a Costco rotisserie chicken.
As for dressing I can’t think of one that wouldn’t be good on it. We usually top the salads with a dijon and balsamic vinaigrette, mainly because it’s what we typically have on hand. Oh, but honey-mustard dressing and homemade French dressing are both outstanding. Don’t forget good old ranch dressing either – and if you want you can skip a cheese and douse the salad in a creamy feta dressing. Basically, the sky’s the limit with this meal – your favorite vegetables, meats and cheeses all topped with your choice of dressings (believe it or not, we have even more homemade dressings you can see here!).
Oh, and one more thing: a really important reason chef’s salads should make regular appearances on your menu is because every member of the family gets to have their own favorite toppings. This means the picky eaters will be happy – and they will love salad, ha! Oh, and mom and dad will be even happier, because that’s one less meal to hear the sighs, whines, and complaints about (gee, you don’t think I’ve had any experience with that, do you?).
Classic Chef's Salad - Our Warm Weather Go-To Meal
For Each Salad Bowl (multiply for number you need):
- 1 cup chopped lettuce fresh spinach, shredded cabbage, etc.
- 3 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
- 1/2 carrot peeled and sliced or shredded
- 1/4 cup cooked sliced chicken*
- 1/4 cup sliced ham*
- 3 tablespoons chopped/julienned cheese cheddar, jack, or fontina, etc.
- 2 tablespoons crumbly cheese like feta, blue, mizithra, etc.
- 1 cup Seasonal vegetables like red peppers broccoli, snap peas or roasted and cooled vegetables like asparagus, beets or green beans
- boiled egg sliced or quartered
- Other Additions: olives pepperoncini, or artichoke hearts, chickpeas, etc.
- Dressing of choice**
- Layer greens on the bottom of individual bowls or plates.
- Evenly sprinkle with onion and carrot.
- Arrange in triangles on top of lettuce bed: meats, cheeses, seasonal vegetables, egg slices and any additions.
- Drizzle with your dressing of choice and serve with toasted or grilled artisan bread.
- Easy Vinaigrette 4 Ways
- American French-Style Dressing
- Honey Mustard Dressing
- Best Ranch Dressing
- Creamy Feta Dressing
Other main dish salads you may like: