I had a client once who was shocked (shocked!) when I suggested salad for dinner.

“My husband comes home from work hungry,” she gasped. “He needs a proper dinner!”

I understand her sentiment. But who says salad isn’t hearty enough for dinner?

This beauty carries the evening meal just fine, thank you. Even better, it’s adaptable to whatever ingredients are in season or on hand. Just pick your prettiest platter, then begin layering:

  • Start with a bed of baby lettuces, arugula or spinach;
  • Top with thinly shaved fennel;
  • Add green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, some seared meat or fish, hard-boiled eggs and olives; then
  • Sprinkle with scallions.

You can vary the ingredients any way you like:

  • Try adding thinly sliced, roasted beets, oranges and goat cheese.
  • Use blanched sugar-snap peas and almonds.
  • Add raw carrots, zucchini and kohlrabi.
  • Use chicken breasts or flank steak in place of the fish; or forego the protein entirely.
  • Roast eggplant and red pepper slices, then layer them in, along with feta or blue cheese.

You can dress this main-dish salad with your favorite store-bought dressing. I love Newman’s Own Oil & Vinegar. Whisk a dollop of grainy mustard into it to ramp up the heartiness.

Then dig in. Dinner (dinner!) awaits …