Plenty of veg, filling whole grains, and plant-based proteins. Whether you’re meatless on Mondays or going all-in, look no further than these vegetarian main dish salads for your dinner plans this week.  

Whether you choose to go plant-based for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, it can be tricky to create filling meals as a vegetarian newcomer. Luckily, it’s not as hard as it seems. These substantial salads are packed with vegetables and bulked up with whole grains and plant-based proteins for a hearty meal in no time. 

If you’re still looking for more, CSPI’s resident Healthy Cook Kate Sherwood has a new book out just for you! Check out The Healthy Cook’s Kitchen: Main Dish Salads now in the NutritionAction store. 

Crispy Tofu Salad

crispy tofu salad
Kate Sherwood - CSPI.

Delicious as-is, this salad also provides the building blocks to make any number of satisfying plant-based meals. The irresistible crispy tofu can be thrown into stir-fries, made into other salads with whatever greens and grains you have on hand, or simply eaten as a snack with a simple dipping sauce. Don’t miss the miso ginger dressing, either — try it on roasted or raw vegetables to get your 11 daily servings of fruit and vegetables. 

Get the Crispy Tofu Salad recipe 

Looking for more plant-based protein recipes? Check out The Healthy Cook's Kitchen: Tofu and Tempeh 

Fattoush Salad with Zesty Herb Dressing

fattoush salad with zesty herb dressing
Kate Sherwood - CSPI.

Tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, radishes: summer on a plate. With a zesty herb-tahini dressing and pieces of pita studded throughout, each bite of this fattoush is filled with flavor. Use whatever summer produce and fresh herbs you’d like to make it your own. 

Get the Fattoush Salad with Zesty Herb Dressing recipe 

For more meatless mains, try NutritionAction’s Veggie Nice! Recipe Book 

Mango Rice Salad

Mango Rice Salad
Kate Sherwood - CSPI.

Perfect for a summertime picnic or potluck, as an accompaniment to a plant-based protein such as tofu, or eaten on its own right out of the bowl. Nutritious brown rice makes the perfect base for a vibrant mango salad with quick-pickled red onion — one of many Healthy Cook techniques you can learn from our recipes! 

Get the Mango Rice Salad recipe 

Find more lightning-quick meals in Healthy Recipes: Fast and Fresh Main Courses 

Kale and Tempeh Salad

kale and tempeh salad
Kate Sherwood - CSPI.

While most of us have heard of tofu by now, tempeh might be new to some. The dense cake made of fermented, cooked soybeans is nuttier and more flavorful than its better-known soy cousin, but it just as easily works as a blank canvas for your favorite flavor profiles. Here it’s crumbled, tossed with a punchy parmesan dressing, and crisped in a hot pan before joining a bed of kale and butternut squash. 

Get the Kale and Tempeh Salad recipe 

Round out your weeknight dinners with The Healthy Cook's Kitchen: Whole Grains 

Tomato Basil Bulgur Salad

sliced tomato and cooked bulgur over leaf lettuce
Kate Sherwood - CSPI.

Bulgur works particularly well in this celebration of summer’s favorite dynamic duo, tomato and basil, but any other cooked whole grain is just as tasty. Once your grains are cooked, it’s truly just a matter of tossing everything together to get dinner on the plate. Another Healthy Cook tip: To cool grains quickly, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. 

Get the Tomato Basil Bulgur Salad recipe 

For more satisfying, veggie-forward ideas, check out The Healthy Cook's Kitchen: Spring & Summer Vegetables

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As a nonprofit organization that takes no donations from industry or government, CSPI relies on the support of donors to continue our work in securing a safe, nutritious, and transparent food system. Every donation—no matter how small—helps CSPI continue improving food access, removing harmful additives, strengthening food safety, conducting and reviewing research, and reforming food labeling. 

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