Never eat a boring salad again! Try these 5 pro tips for how to make a salad that is exciting, tasty, and extra satisfying. Whether you’re making a green salad as a side or a grain salad that’s perfect for dinner, these tips will help you make a delicious salad that is nutritious and packed with flavor.

an overhead photo of a bowl of vegan chickpea salad with a fork next to a jar of dijon dressing, and a cloth napkin.
Photo of Mediterranean Chickpea Salad by Ali Redmond

If you’ve read my book or have been around this site for any amount of time, you know how excited I get about a good salad that is packed with nutrition and flavor.

Are there rules for how to make a good salad? Not really. But you can consider this a simple guide to help you take your salad game to new heights and even turn salad into dinner whenever you don’t feel like cooking.

Table of Contents
  1. 5 Tips for How to Make a Good Salad
    1. 1: Think Beyond Lettuce and Greens
    2. 2: Add Heft with Grains and Nuts
    3. 3: Add Beans or Other Proteins
    4. 4: Make Your Own Homemade Salad Dressing
    5. 5: Make it a Flavor Party
  2. Exciting, Delicious, Satisfying Salad Recipes
  3. Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit

5 Tips for How to Make a Good Salad

Here are a few ways to make a salad that is satisfying, exciting, and dare I say, far better than a restaurant-fancy salad. Try these tips and you’ll never have a boring salad again:

ingredients for tunisian salad including tomatoes, red onion, eggs, green peppers, a green apple, green olives, kalamata olives, lemon, olive oil, white wine vinegar, tuna, salt, pepper, english cucumbers, mint and parsley.

1: Think Beyond Lettuce and Greens

I do have my go-to lettuce salads like this Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad and this Greek lettuce salad with a good bit of feta cheese. But the salad world is so much more than lettuce! Think about adding vegetables and fruit of different colors and textures to give your salad some crunch and pack it with nutrition and flavor.

I love using everything from juicy tomatoes and cucumbers to celery and carrots, to grilled vegetables like grilled corn on the cob or grilled zucchini. And sometimes adding fruit is the way to go, like tart-sweet Granny Smith apples in a cabbage salad and citrus in beet salad with arugula. Heck, fruit can be the star, like in this watermelon salad.

the ingredients for farro salad including farro, arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, green onions, yellow bell pepper, parsley, mint, dill, walnuts and feta cheese.
Ingredients for Mediterranean Farro Salad | Photo by Suzy Karadsheh

2: Add Heft with Grains and Nuts

A sure way to give your salad heft and make it even more texturally pleasing and satisfying is by adding grains and nuts. And it’s also a good way to pack your salad with fiber and minerals.

Nearly any cooked grain of your choice can be used in a salad. I often use farro and barley because both grains are pleasantly nutty and somewhat chewy and are easy to cook ahead of time.

Nuts are another go-to for elevating the salad even a few notches more. A handful of toasted almonds or omega 3-rich walnuts will make a simple salad more nutritious, filling, and texturally satisfying.

This farro salad is a perfect example of a hearty grain salad that is a meal in its own right. All thanks to the layers of veggies and nuts!

ingredients for chickpea salad chickpeas, cucumber, grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red onions, parsley, mint, avocado, dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon, sumac, aleppo pepper, garlic, salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Mediterranean Chickpea Salad | Photo by Ali Redmond

3: Add Beans or Other Proteins

Beans and legumes are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, and thankfully, they are some of the cheapest and most convenient pantry ingredients out there. And when all else fails, a protein-packed bean salad can easily be what’s for dinner.

Make beans the star in a simple chickpea salad or mix beans with another protein for an extra satisfying Mediterranean-style salad, like this white bean and sardine salad.

Another fast way to turn a simple green salad is by adding your favorite protein on top. This Greek grilled chicken salad is a good example.

an overhead photo of ladolemono salad dressing in a measuring cup with a whisk next to 3 juiced lemon halves.
Photo of Ladolemono by Suzy Karadsheh

4: Make Your Own Homemade Salad Dressing

Save yourself the expense of store-bought salad dressings all while using higher quality ingredients with fewer preservatives. Plus, you can make your own salad dressing at home in less than five minutes!

Homemade salad dressing with citrus or vinegar and quality extra virgin olive oil as your base is a sure way to elevate your salad and give it that high-end restaurant finish.

Add fresh garlic or seasoning of your choice and whisk until well-emulsified. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these Mediterranean salad dressings:

bunches of cilantro, dill and parsley, each in it's own jar of water.
Photo of How to Store Fresh Herbs by Suzy Karadsheh

5: Make it a Flavor Party

Whether you make a green salad with mostly veggies and greens or a dinner salad that’s hefty with grains and legumes, salad dressing is not the only way to add flavor. Here are three more ways to pack your salad with flavor:

  • Fresh herbs! I joke about how my friends call me the parsley queen. I buy and use more herbs than most people, and I think adding a good handful of fresh herbs to your salad is always a good thing.
  • Marinated vegetables, cheese, and other Mediterranean flavor makers. Dig in your fridge or pantry for things like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, pickled vegetables, or marinated vegetables like these easy-to-make marinated mushrooms. Add a handful of crumbled feta or a few shavings of nutty Pecorino Romano. I never mind a little something to amp up the flavor, and when I’m feeling indulgent, I just turn my antipasti into a salad.
  • Season. Season. Season! If nothing else, remember to taste your salad once you dress it and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Often, a salad that seems lacking can be easily improved with a pinch more salt or a dash of spicy Aleppo pepper, sumac, and maybe a splash more citrus!
An overhead photo of tunisian salad in a serving bowl, topped with wedges of hard boiled eggs. This is surrounded by mint, slices of crusty bread, lemon halves, salt, pepper, olive oil and bowls of green olive, kalamata olives, tuna, and more hard boiled egg wedges.
Photo of Slata Tounsiya by Andrea Gralow

Exciting, Delicious, Satisfying Salad Recipes

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Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit

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Mediterranean Diet starter kit, with olive oil, spices, and tahini.

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I’m Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I’m all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you’re here…
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  1. Camille says:

    I just bought The Mediterranean Dish cookbook and it’s wonderful. Your website is so generous with delicious recipes. Cooking the Mediterranean way is changing the way we eat and may be saving my husband’s life, as he is recovering from heart bypass surgery. I was so tired of cooking and being disappointed with the result, but your recipes deliver so much flavor, color, texture and nutrition that I’ll never go back to my old way of cooking. Thank you!

    1. TMD Team says:

      What a sweet note, Camille!! Thank you so much!