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Chef salad is an easy, healthy, and delicious way to enjoy leftover meat and vegetables. You are the chef and can make it any way you like!
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This light and tasty chef salad is just what you need to feel good with all the delicious toppings. Meat and cheeses with fresh vegetables are the perfect combinations for creating a light and refreshing salad. Add your favorite dressing like this homemade ranch dressing on top, and enjoy a delicious lunch or light dinner!
One of the best ways to enjoy lunch is with a light meal! Use this lettuce base and you will see how quickly this chef salad will become part of your weekly meal plan. Fresh vegetables, raw lettuce, cut cheese, and chopped meat are a great balanced meal. Grab a bowl and start adding toppings to your lettuce for the best combination!
Common Toppings for an Easy Chef Salad Recipe
Chef salad ingredients can vary greatly depending on who is making the meal. There is no one perfect way to make it. The easiest thing to do is just cobble up whatever ingredients you have, whether it be sandwich toppings or chicken dinner leftovers, and add it to a bed of lettuce. All the ingredients are cut into bite-sized pieces for easier eating with a fork. Here are some common toppings we like to use.
- Lettuce – Romaine, iceberg lettuce, or any kind of green leaf lettuce will work great for starting the bowl. Rinse your lettuce and use a clean paper towel to dampen all the wet moisture off the lettuce. Cut, chop, or pull apart with your hands the lettuce into bite-sized pieces.
- Meat/Protein – Ham, turkey, roast beef, bacon, chicken (rotisserie, grilled, or fried), and/or a hard-boiled egg are all great additives for your protein.
- Cheese – Cheddar, Swiss, or pepper Jack cheese is perfect for adding in a soft texture full of flavor.
- Vegetables – Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, carrots, and/or peas all bring in a crunch but also a healthy mixture of flavors and combinations.
What Dressing is Best?
You can put any kind of dressing you like on a chef salad. From oil-based dressings to creamy dressings, you really can’t go wrong. Here are some common dressings:
- Ranch dressing
- Blue cheese
- Russian dressing (or thousand island dressing)
- Honey mustard
- Balsamic vinaigrette
- French dressing
- Oil and vinegar
“You can’t go wrong with this! Always a tasty and enjoyable salad that you can customize differently every time! Love, love, love!”-Brandy
Frequently Asked Questions
A Chef Salad (or Chef’s Salad) got its name from restaurant chefs throwing together a salad from whatever was available in the kitchen. No one knows for certain which restaurant the first recipe originated in, but it is speculated that it was at the Ritz Carlton in New York. It usually consisted of lettuce, cheeses, deli meats, hard-boiled eggs, and vegetables.
Chef salad and cobb salad are very similar. In fact, some might argue the only difference is the addition of one avocado. A classic chef salad recipe doesn’t usually include avocado. It is also argued that chef’s salads also shouldn’t include tomatoes. Cobb salads may have more intense flavors like blue cheese and bitter greens.
Most salads are considered on the healthy side before adding any dressing. The lettuce, meat, cheeses, fruit, veggies, and occasionally mixed nuts all have great potential of being a healthy choice in a meal. Chef salads are loaded with meat and cheeses along with extra vegetables. Be careful with the amount of meat and cheese that you have, though. Processed meats can be unhealthy if not enjoyed in moderation.
What to Serve with Chef Salad
Chef salad can be an entire meal on its own. When going to a restaurant, the menu usually serves this chef’s salad as an entree rather than a side salad. However, if you want to serve it as a side salad, you can serve it alongside chicken, steak, fish, or as a co-entree (is that a thing?) with your favorite soup!
How to Store or Make Ahead
It is best to prepare the salad the day of. The fresher the ingredients, the better! Chop and slice the toppings, then place each ingredient individually in separate bags or airtight containers. Once you are ready to serve your salad, toss all the ingredients together or decorate the top of a chef salad bowl in a unique and creative way!
More Salad Recipes
How to Make a Chef Salad
- 2 cups leafy romaine lettuce (coarsely cut or chopped)
- 1/3 cup chopped deli ham
- 1/3 cup chopped deli turkey
- 2 slices cooked bacon
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese (cubed)
- 1/4 cup Swiss cheese (cubed)
- 1/3 cup cucumber (chopped or sliced)
- 6-7 cherry tomatoes
- 1 hard boiled egg (prepared and sliced)
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)
- 4 tablespoons ranch dressing (or your favorite dressing)
- Prepare ham, cheese, and vegetables by chopping into cubes or bite-sized slices.
- Place lettuce in a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.
- Serve with ranch dressing or your favorite salad dressing.
How to Make Chef Salad AheadIt is best to prepare the salad the day of. The fresher the ingredients the better! Chop and slice the toppings then place each ingredient individually in separate bags or airtight containers. Once you are ready to serve your salad, toss all the ingredients together or decorate the top of a chef salad bowl in a unique and creative way!
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You can’t go wrong with this! Always a tasty and enjoyable salad that you can customize differently every time! Love, love, love!
I made this for lunch this week, and ended up making it again, because it was so simple and yummy!