This is the BEST side salad recipe: it goes with everything, is easy to make, and is always a crowd-pleaser! It uses a tasty, classic mix of ingredients that everyone will love and that's quick to throw together.
About This Recipe
This tasty, classic salad uses simple ingredients that are perfect if you're serving people who have different food preferences. It's a simple green salad that's loaded with toppings and a creamy dressing. And it's the best because it goes with everything! You'll want to save this recipe for holidays, dinner parties, a weeknight dinner, or if you need a go-to healthy side dish. It pairs well with just about any main dish because it's so versatile.
Topped with crunchy croutons and drizzled with a creamy dressing, this side salad is the perfect mix of flavors and textures. It's a crowd-pleasing, bright salad that's a great way to add some fresh greens and vegetables to your menu. Plus, it's quick to make if you need a last-minute side dish that doesn't require any cooking time.
This salad recipe includes a delicious 5-ingredient Creamy Italian Dressing; but you can also swap this out for a store-bought version. Almost any dressing would be tasty (ranch, honey mustard, etc.) — try it with your favorite!
Side Salad Ingredients
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe. The full recipe and ingredient list can be found at the bottom of the page.
- Romaine lettuce
- Grape tomatoes
- Red onion
- Parmesan, optional
Creamy Italian Dressing:
- Olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Italian seasoning (or oregano)
- Garlic powder
- Parmesan, optional
How to Make the Best Side Salad
Here's how to make this recipe in 3 simple steps:
- Make the dressing: in a small bowl, stir together the dressing ingredients. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, as needed until the dressing reaches your preferred consistency.
- Assemble the salad: add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl.
- Toss & serve: drizzle as much of the dressing as desired over the salad and toss to mix. Optionally, garnish with shredded parmesan before serving.
Here are some of the most popular substitutions and additions for this recipe:
Lettuce: The recipe calls for romaine lettuce but you could also use spinach, butter lettuce, or any mix made of leafy greens
Tomatoes: Any type of tomatoes will be tasty: grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or chopped Roma, garden, or heirloom tomatoes.
Cheese: Swap out parmesan for a creamy cheese like feta or goat cheese if you prefer. Shredded cheddar cheese is another popular option.
Nuts: Add nuts to your salad for some extra crunch! Try you favorite nut like pecans, walnuts, pine nuts or sliced almonds.
Seeds: These are another popular addition to the recipe. Try adding sunflower seeds or roasted pumpkin seeds.
Cheese: If you're craving some cheese in your salad, add a sprinkle of feta cheese, parmesan cheese, blue cheese or tangy goat cheese.
More topping ideas: Some other popular additions are crispy bacon bits, green onions, green olives, red bell peppers, green beans or sun-dried tomatoes. Feel free to experiment with your favorite flavors and toppings to customize this salad to fit your preferences.
About The Dressing
This recipe uses a homemade creamy Italian dressing. It's a classic Italian dressing mixed with mayonnaise for added creaminess and is the perfect match for the ingredients in the salad! The dressing makes this salad flavorful and satisfying, even though it's only a side dish.
Feel free to swap out the homemade dressing in this recipe for your favorite one! This salad is very versatile and would be delicious with any dressing, especially any creamy dressing. Here are a few other ideas for dressings that you can make yourself or buy as bottled dressing:
- Ranch Dressing
- Italian Dressing
- Honey Mustard Dressing
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe makes 6 servings as a side dish. To serve a larger crowd you can double the recipe.
Yes, you can make this salad ahead of time with a couple modifications. Assemble the salad but leave out the avocado, croutons and dressing. You can make the dressing ahead of time and store it separately in an airtight container. Once you're ready to serve the salad add the avocado, croutons, and dressing.
This salad would be tasty with any main course! It's especially popular with heavy main course dishes (like pasta or meat dishes) because it's light and fresh.
How to Serve
For the best flavor and texture, toss your salad just before serving it. You can leave it in a large bowl for people to scoop out their own servings or add it to serving plates.
Since this salad is also popular for large groups, you can serve it buffet-style: serve the lettuce and topping separately in their own bowls and let guests make their own custom salads.
How to Store Salad Leftovers
This salad is best enjoyed immediately after mixing it. If you have leftovers, they should be stored separately from the dressing and the salad should be tossed just before serving it.
How to Store The Dressing
Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. Properly stored, the dressing will stay good for up to 2 weeks. You can also make your dressing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment & rating at the bottom of this page!Print
Nutrition disclaimer: nutrition information is an estimate to the best of our availability; please note that nutrition information will vary based on the exact products and quantities used.