How to Make a Delicious Salad + Super Simple Big Ass Salad

how to make a delicious salad

When most people think about switching to a whole food plant based diet, they revolt because they don’t want to eat salad for every meal of every day for the rest of their life. Fair enough, I don’t want to do that either. 

But what most people don’t realize is that regardless of how someone eats, when done the right way, salads can be a totally satisfying, delicious, mouthgasmic, and crave-worthy experience that is far from sad and boring. 

People who follow our weekly plant based Meal Plans already know this, but I’m going to show you how a seriously scrumptious salad is done. 

Make your salad by following the 6-step blueprint in the order I’ve laid it out for you. Play around with all the various ingredients and use different combinations each time. 

Step 1
Lettuce and Leafy Greens

Choose one type of lettuce or combine a couple different types. Throw in some leafy greens for an added nutrient boost. 

Lettuce examples: Romaine, green leaf, red leaf, butter

Leafy greens examples: arugula, bok choy, kale, watercress, spinach 

Tips: Chop or tear your lettuce and leafy greens into whatever size that you enjoy eating. 

Step 2

I don’t include lettuce and leafy greens into this category because I think of them as the base. The additional veggie part is where things start to get interesting because you can have fun with texture. 

Examples: Cucumber, radish, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, cooked or raw beets, jicama. 

Tips: Choose veggies with different textures to keep things interesting. 

Step 3
Bulk it up 

This will separate the side salads that you eat with a meal from the salads that are the meal. Add some hearty ingredients that will fill you up and keep you fueled for hours. 

Examples: Garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas), quinoa, kidney beans, baked tofu, potato, tempeh, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, rice, corn, edamame beans. 

Tips: Choose one bulky ingredient or several. I like cooking my beans from scratch, but if you use canned beans, be sure to rinse them well and then drain them before you add them to your salad. These “bulky” ingredients are all yummy added cold, but if you want to warm them up, feel free. Just don’t heat them up too much or they will make the lettuce wilt instead of being nice and crisp. 

Step 4

These are things that will take your salad to the next level. Not only will they create an interesting and satisfying texture, they will also add a punch of flavor. 

Examples: Fresh mint, apple, fresh parsley, pomegranate seeds, sauerkraut, hummus, halved grapes, thinly sliced red onion, cashew cheese, sprouts, avocado, fresh basil, avocado, roasted garlic cloves, olives, berries, raisins, pear, chickpea tuna. 

Tips: If you’re having trouble coming up with extras to add to your salad masterpiece, think about what you might add to a sandwich. Sandwich ingredients often go very well on big, satisfying salads. 

Step 5

A couple weeks ago, I talked about how much more delicious and healthy homemade salad dressings are than store-bought salad dressings. Yummy homemade salad dressing is a must for scrumptious salad. 

Examples: Cashew Ranch, Caesar, Sunny Orange. If you are a Meal Plans or Recipes subscriber, you can easily search your Recipes classroom to view every dressing recipe in our database. 

Tip: This is one of my all-time favorite salad dressing recipes. 

Step 6
Crunchy toppings

It’s all about texture, baby! One of the things that people don’t realize when switching to a whole food plant based diet is the importance of texture. You aren’t going to have the sensation of biting into meat when you eat this way, so it helps with the overall satisfaction of a meal if you build in multiple textures. Adding crunch to a salad is one of the best ways to achieve maximum salad satisfaction. 

Examples: Croutons, soy sauce roasted sunflower seeds, toasted chopped pecans, toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut bacon, chopped walnuts. 

Tips: Be sure to add the crunchy stuff as the very last ingredient so it goes on top of the dressing. If you add the dressing on top of the crunchy stuff it will be less crunchy. Also, if you prep or make a big batch of a couple of different crunchy ingredients and keep them in your fridge, it makes it super fast to add them to your salads.

If you had to toast some seeds every time you made a salad you probably wouldn’t do it very often, but if you made a big batch and had them ready to go it would be much easier. Toasted seeds, croutons, and coconut bacon stay good for a ridiculous amount of time if you store them in the fridge. 

Finding joy and satisfaction in eating a big, beautiful salad is truly a game changer. When you eat something healthy because you should, it’s not enjoyable or inspiring. When you eat something healthy because you seriously WANT TO, eating healthy becomes the obvious and easiest choice. 

Why struggle with eating healthy when you don’t have to? 

If you want more delicious and totally satisfying whole food plant based recipes, along with a weekly plan to help you eat mouthgasmic plants every day, check out our weekly plant based Meal Plans and sign up for a free trial

Today’s recipe is a delicious salad that you can follow before you venture out and make your own masterpiece.

how to make a delicious salad

Super Simple Big Ass Salad

Makes 1 delicious salad
Author: Molly Patrick


Use as much of each as you'd like. Feel free to substitute or free-style the ingredients, it's your salad!

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Cabbage, sliced
  • Carrot, chopped
  • Bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • Celery, sliced
  • Frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • Apple (any variety), diced
  • Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sprouts (any type, I like alfalfa sprouts)
  • Caesar Dressing (homemade is best, see the link in the Notes)
  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted (recipe linked in Notes)


  • Place the romaine, cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, celery, corn, apple, black beans, and sprouts in a huge bowl. Top with dressing and toasted pumpkin seeds.


If one of the dressings or crunchy toppings above speaks to you, feel free to use them, but we like this Caesar Dressing and these Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with salad! 


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Lesley Nicol on February 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Your website is visually beautiful to look at, easy to manoeuvre and great to read without any annoying ads and I think CFDG and your developers should win a huge award for it if such a thing as website awards exist. But seriously your email this week, The Dull Ache is so true and raw and was very timely for me. I forwarded it to my three offspring and I hope it is read by many, many more Thank you so much.

    • Molly Patrick on February 27, 2021 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks so much, Lesley!
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      We have never regretted that decision.
      As for the design, that is Luanne’s area of expertise. She is the best designer I know!
      Thanks again for the love and for sharing my writing.

  2. Pat Posada on March 8, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    How do I find this recipe in my classroom so I can save it to my favorites?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on March 9, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Pat, Thank you for being a subscriber!

      To find blog recipes, head over to the All Recipes area of your classroom and select the “blog” filter (click here to view what that looks like). This will limit the recipes you see to only blog recipes. From there, you can enter a keyword to further filter the results within the blog recipes we have loaded. You’ll be able to favorite just like you would any other recipe.

      However! THIS specific salad recipe is not one you will find in the classroom. This recipe is generalized along the lines of how Molly makes a salad in Kitchen Play; off-the-cuff with what you have on hand.


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