Get Excited About Salad!

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

So I have this pet peeve. Something that really irks me. You wanna know what it is?

I’m going to tell you anyways. I mean, that’s why you’re here right? You allow me to talk incessantly about the crap that runs through my brain 18 hours per day and I reward you at the end of it all with a tasty recipe. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship we’ve got going on here. Capiche?

Back to the pet peeve. Restaurants that serve you a bowl of lettuce with a sprinkle of shredded carrots and call it a side salad. Dude, that’s not a salad. That’s lettuce with some shredded carrots on it.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

In fact, I blame restaurants that make fake salads for turning people off of salads. Giving them a bad rep. Lettuce with shredded carrots on it isn’t exciting! It’s rabbit food!

But adding fun toppings like nuts, cheese, veggies, dried fruit, and a delicious dressing? Now that’s something to get excited about. Take the salad you see here, for instance. A bed of mixed greens is totally more exciting than plain ol’ lettuce. Toasted walnuts – yes. Dried cranberries – wicked. Creamy goat cheese – yes siree. Crumbled bacon – heck yeah. Top it off with a homemade vinaigrette and a hardboiled egg or two for some added protein and that right there is a complete and fantastic meal.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

Dudes will like this salad too! (I credit the bacon for that one) I took this salad to a dinner party to serve as its own course (minus the hardboiled egg). It was a HUGE hit with the ladies and the dudes. The flavors work really well together and the whole thing is just so darn satisfying. I also included halved cherry tomatoes, but didn’t have any on hand when I made it again last weekend. I highly recommend that you add them as they provide a sweet little juicy pop.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

Feel free to play around too! Think of this recipe as a guideline for creating a really well-balanced and flavorful salad. If you don’t like walnuts, try almonds or pecans. Not a fan of goat cheese? Try feta or parmesan cheese. Want to make this vegetarian? Omit the bacon. If you’re making a meal out of it, trying adding grilled chicken in place of the egg. Or grilled tofu! Tuna or salmon! The possibilities are endless. Get into it!

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

The Get Excited About Salad Salad (adapted from

The cherry tomatoes aren’t shown here, but please add them if you can. As mentioned, if you’re making this as a side salad or for a salad course, the hardboiled egg or added protein can be left out. But if you’re making this salad into a meal, definitely add your protein of choice to ensure hunger satisfaction. The dressing is wonderful and could really be used on any salad. It will make more than you need for this recipe, so store any leftovers in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge and use on other salads throughout the week.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad (serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side):

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ounce of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 strips of thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled (optional)

To toast the walnuts, spread them out onto a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350°F for about 8-10 minutes. Combine all of the dressing ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly as you do so. Set aside.

Combine the mixed greens, toasted walnuts, cherry tomatoes, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add the dressing (to taste – you will not need all of it) and toss to coat. Split the salad onto 2 (or 4) plates and then evenly sprinkle with the goat cheese and bacon. Slice the hardboiled egg and add one egg to each salad. Enjoy!

PS. I totally just made this again for dinner last night and added a fried egg. It was mega!

PPS. What makes a salad great for you?


  1. Finally!!!!!!!! I was saving up my comments for this deliciousness! This is my favorite salad yet. After begging for the recipe (muah) I made it for the hubby and I. I added feta instead if the goat cheese and even followed your advice with grilled tofu. Loved it! And best of all, meat loving hubby liked it! Even the tofu. In fact, I may have made myself this salad for 4 days straight…. Couldn’t let the tastiness go to waste! Mmmm, even at 5:45 in the morning I’m craving it!! Thanks lady!!!!


  3. Those lame restaurant side salads are why my husband hates salads. It has taken me some time, and lots of bacon, goat cheese, and chopped chicken to get him to even consider a salad as dinner. But I did it. This salad dressing sounds perfect for any kind of salad or even as a marinade for some chicken. I am going to make a big batch and just store it in my fridge!

  4. You’re making me excited about salad! During the summer, I eat salads pretty much every day…it’s been abnormally warm here in California, which is making me crave barbecue and fresh crisp salads. Yours looks so fully loaded with healthy deliciousness! Love the homemade dressing and would love to pack my salad with bacon and hardboiled eggs!

  5. Thanks for sharing the dressing recipe! I have been trying to get away from using bottled salad dressings but have been a little intimidated to make my own. This one sounds simple, yet delicious!

    • Hannah, this dressing is SO easy. And it really is delicious. Say goodbye to bottled dressings and start experimenting. You’d be surprised at how simple and tasty of a dressing you can make with ingredients you already have in your kitchen!

  6. i love a good, jam-packed salad! is it weird that sometimes i crave a crisp, fresh salad? haha! p.s. i’m a newcomer and i just had to go read through a bunch of your posts, i love your blog!

    • Not weird at all, girl. Crisp, fresh salads are where it’s at, especially when they can be packed with so much flavor. So glad you found my little space here – welcome!

  7. I totally agree! I hate a sad salad, but I LOVE a loaded salad with lots of texture and toppings. This one looks amazing…I’ll go for anything with bacon and goat cheese!

    PS, sorry for being a jerk and not noticing sooner, but I am loving the new look! So cute, Amanda!

  8. This looks delicious! I’m always looking for ways to spice up a salad! I personally love feta cheese and sliced almonds…but I may have to try switching to goat and walnuts cause this just looks so good!

  9. Yes, preparing salads can be a very creative process. That salad looks so nice, I would have to leave out eggs though cause I’m allergic but it is not a big deal. That dressing sounds great too. Most of the time I make simple vinaigrette and it slowly starts to be boring so your post is right on time :).

  10. Whenever I order pizza, I always order a salad on the side to feel healthier. But then when it comes its just a couple pieces of chopped up lettuce and some carrots with maybe a tomato or two. It’s like really?! Did I just pay 6 dollars for this? Ok, rant done. This salad look’s so satisfying with the hardboiled egg and chopped bacon. Great recipe!

  11. your pics are so colorful, bright and cheery & if this doesnt get someone excited about salad, nothing will!

  12. I love your blog and all the healthy recipes! & thanks for your kind words about my illustration on Freutcake 🙂

  13. I agree with your pet peeve. That is simply not salad, but this is. Looks so delish. I can’t wait to make this for friends this weekend.

  14. Yep I agree, salads can be made so interesting I don’t understand why restaurants can go with a really bland basic list of ingredients for their sides and expect people to order it.

    I love dried cranberries and eggs in salad, its these extra ingredients that can make salads so much more interesting. 🙂

  15. I love your blog! I stumbled upon it today and it’s beautiful! Thanks for making an awesome salad and taking the time to make stunning photos. Hats off to you 🙂

  16. whoa mama that looks like a tasty salad!! I hate the lame-o side salads at restaurants too, esp when they dressed it while the lettuce was wet and the dressing is all watery and sad. booo!

  17. I totally agree! I hate that. The local Japanese place here serves a garden salad for $7. Wanna know what’s in it? Iceberg lettuce (don’t even get me started on that), 2 grape tomatoes (for real), 2 cucumber slices and shredded carrots. Absurd.

  18. you got me excited about salad! Yum.

  19. I’m with you on the egg thing – anything can be improved with egg! Only half-jokingly, I’d say….meat! Sorry. All the salads I enjoy tend to have a little fish or meat in them – a bit of a cheat but there you go!

  20. Must incorporate goat cheese in salad. This looks amazing, Amanda 🙂

  21. Loovee cranberries in salad. They add such a great taste and different texture. Completes it.

    • I agree, Kayleigh. All of my salads always have some type of dried fruit in them for added texture and sweetness! Dried cherries are another favorite of mine.

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