29 Vegetarian Salad Recipes That Are Way More Exciting Than Your Go-To Chicken Caesar

·8 min read

Chicken Caesars are a no-brainer come lunchtime. But what if you’re in the mood for something lighter? Or you don’t eat meat? Luckily, there are plenty of vegetarian salad recipes out there, as well as some vegan options that will wow any carnivore at your dinner table. Read on for 29 satisfying salad ideas that star fresh produce, nuts, cheese and more vegetarian-friendly ingredients.

RELATED: 51 Summer Salad Recipes Under 500 Calories (That Still Taste Delish)

1. 20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes

Kick your first picnic of the year off with a mix of tender asparagus, crisp sugar snap peas, plump cherries, juicy peaches and plums and creamy mounds of burrata.

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2. Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, gluten free, crowd-pleaser

Who needs meat when you have chickpeas and Parmesan to fill you up with 14 grams of protein? Just nix the anchovies in the dressing to keep it vegetarian.

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3. Greek Wedge Salad

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegetarian, <30 minutes

Because blue cheese and bacon are not essential to a wedge salad. This lightened-up take with mustard vinaigrette, feta cheese and kalamata olives proves it.

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4. Corn and Tomato Salad with Feta and Lime

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

Hi there, summer. We missed you. Feta adds a creamy, tangy element to sweet summer corn and cherry tomatoes, while a spritz of lime brightens the dish up.

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5. Spring Panzanella Salad

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

A salad that features bread as a main ingredient is one after our own heart. Seasonal darlings like mild mushrooms, watercress and dandelion greens are just the complement to whole-wheat sourdough.

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6. Warm Sesame Noodle Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, gluten free, dairy free, vegan

This takeout classic comes together faster than you can say “delivery, please.” Use your blender or food processor to make the peanut butter dressing as smooth and creamy as possible.

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7. Chilled Cucumber Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 35 minutes (includes marinating time)

  • Why We Love It: no cook, <10 ingredients, vegan, crowd-pleaser

No barbecue spread is complete without this refresher on the table. Might we suggest topping each bowl with a dollop of sour cream?

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8. Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, special occasion-worthy

The dressing is vegan mayo-based, an ingenious swap for traditional anchovies and egg yolks. Boost the protein content by topping it with baked or pan-fried tofu.

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9. Summer Millet Salad

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

Grain salads are just as valid as green salads, especially when they’re packed with cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and Havarti cheese.

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10. Veggie Niçoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

Our spin on the French classic trades canned tuna for extra veggies, like radishes, arugula and cucumbers. Wash it all down with chilled Chardonnay.

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11. Grilled Peach and Halloumi Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian, gluten free

Don’t char marks make everything look better? Here, peaches and slabs of halloumi hold down the fort for grilled steak and chicken.

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12. Kale Salad with Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas and Fried Shallots

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, special occasion-worthy

It’s the ultimate way to kick off a Thanksgiving feast. Top this stunner off with fried goat cheese medallions or feta cheese crumbles.

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13. Black Fig, Mozzarella and Basil Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients, vegetarian, no cook

Figs are a fall and winter favorite, but it turns out the height of fig season is late summer. Snag black or green figs, crusty bread and the freshest mozz you can find to impress your dinner party guests.

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14. Cucumber Breakfast Salad with Jammy Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, vegetarian, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

Greek yogurt and eggs are bound to keep you full, and even more so if you scoop them up with pita or sourdough bread. Don’t be shy with the coriander and cumin seeds—they add great crunch to the plate.

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15. Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <30 minutes, vegetarian

Celery is always on the sidelines while Buffalo wings and tuna salad take the spotlight. Here, it’s the main ingredient, making for a crunchy, punchy salad no one will see coming.

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16. Fall Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad with Pine Nut Cream

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, special occasion-worthy, gluten free

Complete with beets, potatoes and delicata squash. Make double of the decadent pine nut cream to use on other salads or as a vegetable dip.

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17. Malibu Farm’s Vegan Chop Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, make ahead

Don’t let the cook time deter you. If you prepare the roasted butternut squash and marinated roasted beets in advance (and in bulk), you can assemble the salad in a flash once you’re ready to eat.

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18. Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cacao and Agave Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, no cook

Be sure to leave time to make the dressing—it takes about a day for the cacao nibs, agave syrup and balsamic vinegar to infuse. (And it makes for an unexpected—and totally satisfying—alternative to the same old, same old store-bought salad toppers.)

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19. Shaved Spring Vegetable and Apple Salad with Ginger-Dijon Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, <30 minutes, vegan

Purple cauliflower is a thing, and it’s way easier on the eyes than white. The split snap peas and shaved asparagus make this salad even prettier.

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20. Strawberry, Basil and Arugula Salad with Lots of Black Pepper

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, no cook, vegetarian

Come summer, we put peak-delicious berries in every dish possible. Substitute maple syrup or agave for honey to make it vegan.

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21. Sweet and Spicy Plantain Salad

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, vegan

Starchy plantains, fresh mango and tender black-eyed peas are sure to satisfy between meals. We’ll be crowning ours with a scoop of guacamole to boot.

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22. Minty-Fresh Zucchini Salad with Marinated Feta

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)

  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegetarian, make ahead

Did you know you can eat summer squash raw? Leave at least one day for the feta cheese to marinate in herbs, orange peel, spices and olive oil.

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23. Crisp Fall Green Salad with Benne Seed Ginger Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, no cook, vegetarian

Benne seeds are sesame, but when they’re labeled “benne,” they’re likely an heirloom variety. They offer pleasant nuttiness and crunch to this autumn dish.

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24. Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Apple Salad

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free

Equal parts tart, nutty and refreshing, this salad would pair wonderfully with holiday turkey, roast beef or butternut squash soup.

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25. Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Strawberries

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes

Salty miso dressing + slightly spicy shishito peppers + sweet strawberries + earthy noodles = an impeccably balanced bite.

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26. Roasted Squash Salad with White Beans, Breadcrumbs and Preserved Lemon

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour (plus soaking time)

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegan, special occasion-worthy

For those of you who crave squash the second you step on a crunchy leaf. Start with canned white beans to save yourself the overnight soak.

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27. Radicchio, Lentil and Apple Salad with Vegan Cashew Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes (plus soaking time)

  • Why We Love It: vegan, special occasion-worthy, crowd-pleaser

Believe it or not, cashews, lemon and olive oil can create a ridiculously creamy dressing *without* the help of dairy.

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28. Indian-Inspired Salad Bowl with Crunchy Chickpeas

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

Color your coworkers jealous. We’d make two batches of the herby, gingery mango chutney to put on fish and chicken.

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29. Joanna Gaines’s Peach Caprese Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <30 minutes, vegetarian, kid-friendly, no cook

The duo of white and yellow peaches puts a summery spin on a timeless salad, but we’re betting no one will mind if you add heirloom tomatoes to the dish.

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RELATED: 20 Warm Salads That Will Help You Power through Winter’s Chilliest Days

For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.

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