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What to Serve with a Salad as The Main Dish? 12 BEST Options

Tired of your regular salad as a side dish? Opting to make it the main course but unsure what to serve it with?

With these twelve options, you’ll be ready to create an out-of-this-world meal that’s sure to please everyone.

From pickled vegetables and homemade focaccia bread to a smoky charcuterie platter, there are an array of flavors, textures and styles you can use to make an exciting experience for your taste buds.

Mix-and-match the options with your favorite toppings and dressings for a nutritious and delicious main meal.

Stop wondering what else goes with a salad; we have the answers you need.

What Salads that Can Be Served as a Full Meal?

Salads can be so much more than a bland side to your regular dinner.

With the right ingredients and well-balanced mixture of flavors, a salad can easily make for an enjoyable main meal.

In addition to the classic greens, vegetables, proteins, legumes and grains provide a hearty meal when added to salads.

When combined with flavorful condiments, dressings and spices you can have a delicious salad main that’s full of nutrition and health benefits.

Here are 12 great options that are sure to make an amazing full meal:

What to Serve with A Salad as The Main Dish? 12 BEST Options

Salads are a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables, but they do not always make for a complete and balanced meal.

To make sure you get all the nutrients you need, it is important to pair your salad with another source of protein and other foods from different food groups.

Here are our top 12 options to serve with a salad as the main dish:

1. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with tomato sauce is a classic dish that pairs perfectly with a salad as the main course.

The spaghetti provides a filling, savory base and a healthy dose of carbohydrates to help sustain you throughout your meal.

The tomato sauce adds freshness, bright flavor and nutrition.

Pair this dish with a simple green side salad to round out your meal, or get creative by adding in some colorful veggies such as bell peppers or olives for additional flavor and texture.

This combination of flavors will leave you feeling satisfied and energized for the rest of your day.

2. Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic main dish for those looking for an Italian-inspired meal.

This creamy combination of butter, cream, Parmesan cheese and sometimes garlic is extremely flavorful and pairs perfectly with your favorite salad.

To make Fettuccine Alfredo at home, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and add cream, Parmesan cheese and garlic (if desired).

Cook until the sauce thickens and then add cooked fettuccine.

Serve warm with a side salad of your choice.

For an even heartier meal, you can top Fettuccine Alfredo with grilled chicken or shrimp.


3. Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a classic side dish that can be the perfect accompaniment to a salad.

For the healthiest option, try vegan macaroni and cheese with plant-based ingredients like white beans, nutritional yeast and vegetable broth.

Other light options include lighter versions of the classic recipe without creams or cheeses.

If you’d like to go all out with decadent flavors, consider adding some bacon or other cured meats as well as cheddar cheeses melted into the pasta.

Whichever style you choose, macaroni and cheese can be an ideal partner to any salad selection.

4. Pizza

Pizza is often seen as a decadent and unhealthy choice, but that doesn’t have to be the case when it is paired with a salad.

You can choose thin-crust pizza made with whole grain crust and topped with vegetable toppings such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms or olives.

To make it even healthier, you can opt for natural cheese or vegan cheese options.

This energizing combo of a salad loaded with colorful vegetables and a slice of healthy pizza is sure to hit the spot.

5. Quiche

Quiche is a savory tart made up of a flaky pastry crust filled with eggs, heavy cream and various other ingredients.

Depending on what type of quiche you make, it can be a great dish to pair with a salad for your main course.

Options can include quiche Lorraine (bacon, onion and Swiss cheese), Mediterranean (zucchini, tomatoes and feta), or goat cheese and spinach.

Quiches are also quite easy to make in large batches—making them the perfect meal for larger family gatherings or casual parties.

6. Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French stewed vegetable dish made from eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, bay leaves and other herbs.

It can be served as a main dish or as a side dish.

Combined with its delicate flavor, this classic recipe is sure to add some zest to your meal.

As an added bonus it’s easy to make and full of vitamins and fiber when served on top of a salad.

Ratatouille makes a great choice for dinner parties or special occasions since it’s tasty and relatively simple to prepare.

Serve the ratatouille on top of a bed of freshly dressed leafy greens with feta cheese crumbled on top for an elegant yet healthy main course.

7. Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a great main dish for a healthy meal, since it includes all of the essential food groups.

This dish is also very easy to make and uses relatively inexpensive ingredients.

The traditional recipe calls for mashed potatoes, ground beef or lamb, cooked vegetables such as corn or carrots, onion, garlic, and herbs.

To get creative, add other vegetables to your base or top it with cheese before baking.

Serve with a green salad to balance out the meal and keep it light.

A Shepherd’s Pie will last well in the fridge or freezer for up to several weeks after it has been cooked – making it an ideal meal prep option.

8. Chili

Chili is an excellent accompaniment to a salad as the main dish.

For an added kick, use hot chili peppers or a spicy chili powder blend.

You can make your own chili recipe, or buy pre-made chili and heat it up in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.

Serve with rice, tortillas, or other traditional items like onions and shredded cheese on the side to complete your meal.

9. Soup

Soup is always a great accompaniment to a hearty salad.

Whether you opt for a chunky vegetable soup or classic creamy tomato, soup and salad make a delicious duo.

If you’re looking for an extra nutrient boost, there are many varieties of broth-based soups that feature grains and vegetables—they also add plenty of flavor without sacrificing nutrition.

Just don’t forget the crusty bread to dip in your soup.

10. Stew

A heart-warming bowl of stew makes an excellent accompaniment to a salad as the main dish.

Stew can often be bulky and thick and provide a great contrast to the lightness of many salads.

Choose a stew that is low in fat and mild in flavor so it pairs nicely with the flavors of the salad.

Some light vegetable stews such as corn chowder, tomato soup, and potato leek are always good options.

Stews are also great when served cold, ideal for warm days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen by cooking something hot.

11. Risotto

Risotto is an Italian staple that makes an excellent side dish for salads, especially those made with seasonal greens.

This creamy rice dish combines short-grained Arborio or Carnaroli rice with broth, butter and Parmesan cheese.

The best part? It’s surprisingly simple to make.

Choose from classic mushroom risotto, one-pan squash and feta risotto or bright lemon asparagus risotto for an unbeatable side salad combination.

To make a complete meal, serve the rice dish on its own or alongside grilled meats like chicken and steak.

12. Paella

One of the best options to accompany a salad as the main dish is paella.

Paella is a rice dish of Spanish origin that has gained popularity across the world and can be served with a multitude of ingredients.

It consists primarily of rice, vegetables, spices and seafood or sausage for added flavor.

It has numerous variations, including a vegetarian version with only vegetables.

For an ultimate one-dish meal that pairs perfectly with your hearty dinner salad, try making something like this classic Spanish seafood paella recipe.


Salads are an incredibly versatile way to get your vegetables in.

Whether you’re looking for a simple side dish or a main course for lunch or dinner, there are plenty of options for serving dishes with a salad.

From Mediterranean flavors to protein-packed bowls, these 12 dishes offer a delicious way to round out your salad experience.

Whether you’re looking for traditional accompaniments like grilled meats, fish, and potatoes or something a bit more inventive with an Asian or Middle Eastern flair, these 12 recipes provide the perfect accompaniment to your next salad.

With comforting classics like Italian panzanella and satisfying one-pot meals such as Spanish paella on the menu, you’ll be sure to find something that satisfies even the pickiest eater.

And if you’re throwing a party, salads can act as an impressive centerpiece when served alongside flavorful side dishes such as roasted baby artichokes and quinoa tabbouleh.

So don’t forget when it comes to salads: no dish should ever stand alone.

which salad type is serves as a side to the main dish

What to Serve with a Salad as The Main Dish? 12 BEST Options

Turn your salad into a satisfying main dish with these 12 top options, adding variety and substance to your meal while keeping it light and refreshing.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 1. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
  • 2. Fettuccine Alfredo
  • 3. Macaroni and Cheese
  • 4. Pizza
  • 5. Quiche
  • 6. Ratatouille
  • 7. Shepherd’s Pie
  • 8. Chili
  • 9. Soup
  • 10. Stew
  • 11. Risotto
  • 12. Paella


  • Choose your favorite pick from the comprehensive selection provided in this article.
  • Gather all of the essential ingredients required for the recipe.
  • Prepare a delectable dish with your selected pick in under 30 minutes, following the provided instructions.
Keyword What to Serve with a Salad as The Main Dish
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