Travel Inspired Main Course Salad Recipes

5 Travel Inspired Main Course Salad Recipes

Do you ever feel transported when tasting a food that reminds you of an amazing vacation? These 5 main course salad recipes are inspired from countries across the globe.

So grab some friends and family and reminisce about magical summer holiday memories over a delicious meal with a salad as a main course that literally tastes like vacation!

Or been on a fantastic trip and vowed to come home and make a special new dish.

5 Main Course Salad Recipes That Will Remind You of Vacation

Our favorite cooking teacher, Lisa Ende shared these recipes from her popular Summer Salads class. She pulls together interesting ingredients that you might not typically use and makes cooking them so approachable.

Lisa says that salad recipes need 4 elements to be a main course – greens, a grain, nuts or seeds and a protein. Think about it in terms of taste, color and texture. In addition to these 5 recipes you will find some other salad ideas below.

Some of these main course salads also make great accompaniment salad recipes, especially the Panzanella and Butternut Squash and Roasted Tomato Salads.

Panzanella Salad with Grilled Halloumi

Panzanella Salad Main Course Salad Recipes

Our first travel inspired salad comes from the Mediterranean. Panzanella salad is a Tuscan dish that is served all over Italy and neighboring countries.

It conjures up cinematic images of beautiful outdoor meals shared with friends, lots of wine and gorgeous Tuscan landscapes.

Halloumi cheese, although originally made in Cyprus, is very popular in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. It’s a semi-soft cheese that can be grilled without becoming a gooey mess.

This recipe was the first time I grilled a piece of cheese. It’s a delicious protein to add that may be outside of your normal repertoire.

If you are looking for a Meatless Monday dish, this is perfect. You can also serve it with piece of grilled chicken


Panzanella Salad Main Course Salad Recipes
5 from 1 vote

Panzanella Salad with Grilled Halloumi

A classic Tuscan Panzanella salad with delicious grilled Halloumi cheese for a healthy main course meal.

Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword greek halloumi recipes, grilled halloumi cheese, main course salad recipes, panzanella salad recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes


  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Small French Bread, Cut into 1-inch Cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 Large, Firm Ripe Tomatoes, Cut into 1-inch Cuber
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded and Cut into 1-inch Cubes
  • 1/2 Red Onion, Cut in Half and Thinly Sliced
  • 20 Large Basil Leaves, Coarsely Chopped
  • 3 tbsp Capers, Drained

Halloumi Cheese – Sliced

  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 tsp Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan to a high heat. Cut the halloumi cheese into 8 thin slices and grill until golden on both sides.

  2. Remove and set aside.

  3. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

  4. Add more oil as needed.

  5. For the Vinaigrette: Whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers.

  6. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.

  7. Season liberally with salt and pepper.


Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad Main Course Salad Recipes

Thai cuisine is sublime. This recipe incorporates sweet, tangy and spicy flavors that will delight your tastebuds.

Sure this salad goes beyond the bounds of typical chicken, but the exciting flavors are the real standout. Your friends and family will be impressed! As far as salad recipes go, you couldn’t find a better salad as a main course.

Thai Beef Salad Main Course Salad Recipes
5 from 1 vote

Thai Beef Salad

The ultimate Thai Beef Salad that is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Course Salad
Cuisine Thai
Keyword main course salad recipes, Tahi beef salad recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 7-8 oz Good Quality Beef Steak i.e. Fillet
  • 1/2 tbsp Oil (Vegetable, Peanut, or Canola)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cups Mixed Artisan Lettuce Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1/4 Small Red Onion, Very Finely Sliced
  • 1/2 cup Cucumber, Cut Horizontally then Cut into Slices
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves, Lightly Packed
  • 1/4 cup Mint Leaves, Lightly Packed


  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Sliced Birds Eye Chili (or any other Spicy Chili)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tbsp Cilantro/Coriander Stems, Chopped
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Grape Seed Oil (or Canola or Vegetable Oil)

For Garnish

  • 1 tbsp Cashew Nuts, Roughly Chopped
  • Extra Cilantro and Mint Leaves


  1. Place the birds eye chili, garlic, cilantro stems and a small pinch of salt into a mortar and pestle. Grind until a smooth paste forms.

  2. Add the remaining Dressing ingredients. Adjust sugar, lime juice and fish sauce to taste. Set aside.

  3. Drizzle the beef with ½ tbsp of oil on both sides, then sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

  4. Preheat a skillet over high heat until screaming hot and smoking. Cook the beef to your liking – rare is preferred for this salad.

  5. Remove the beef from the skillet onto a plate. Loosely tent with foil and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.

  6. Slice the beef thinly against the grain and place in a bowl with the remaining Salad ingredients.

  7. Pour over Dressing and toss gently.


Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

Salad Nicoise Main Course Salad Recipes

Reminiscent of a delectable salad ordered at a chic summer beach club on the French Riviera. Salad Nicoise is one of the most popular main course salads for a luncheon or outdoor dinner on a warm evening.

The salad nicoise was born out of the local culture of Nice, France. It is a salad comprised of fresh ingredients like tuna, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, and boiled potatoes.

You can find this popular salad in any number of restaurants in the South of France. Although salad nicoise may be found elsewhere around the globe, the ingredients found at its birthplace are “authentically” French!

While many people believe in sticking with the traditional recipe, this recipe has a more updated flair with the Ahi tuna..

Nicoise Salad Main Course Salad Recipes
5 from 1 vote

Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

A classic Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna, fingerling potatoes, and seasonal vegetables that is perfect for a main course meal.

Course Salad
Cuisine French
Keyword main course salad recipes, salad nicoise
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 6-8 Small Red New Potatoes, Scrubbed and Halved
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 lb Haricots Verts or French Green Beans, Stems Trimmed
  • 2 lbs Fresh Sushi-Quality Tuna
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pint Teardrop or Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1/2 cup Nicoise/ Kalamata Olives
  • 4 heads Baby Gem Lettuces
  • 8-10 Caper Berries with Stems
  • 1/2 bunch Fresh Chives, Snipped in 1/2″


  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Lemons, Juiced
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sugar


  1. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a nice pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat.

  2. Simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes to give them a head start, and then add the eggs. 

  3. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of the simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender while continuing to cook the potatoes until fork tender.

  4. Drain out the water and put the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in a colander; rinse briefly under cold water.

  5. Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.

  6. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the vinaigrette; season with a fair amount of salt and pepper.

  7. Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.

  8. To assemble the salad: combine the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives,anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with enough vinaigrette to fully moisten and toss gently to coat; season with salt and pepper. Place lettuce on a platter and arrange all the ingredients.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the cap on the jar and shake the vinaigrette vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad so the flavors can marry.


Butternut and Roasted Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts, Avocado, & Feta

Butternut & Roasted Tomato Summer Salad

This Butternut and Roasted Tomato salad works perfectly as an accompaniment salad or a main course salad.

It’s so insanely delicious and it’s the perfect transition from summer to fall main course salad recipe. It has a little bit of a Thanksgiving dinner flair that made it perfect to represent trips to the USA.

But to me, it feels very California or representative of healthy food cuisine found in Canggu, Bali and Ericeira, Portugal.

You HAVE to try it!! Great for the family and even better for entertaining. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did because there wasn’t chicken or some other protein but I was soooo wrong.

The first time I tried this salad, it was one of those times you realize that vegetarian food can be really satisfying and filling.

Butternut & Roasted Tomato Summer Salad
5 from 1 vote

Butternut and Roasted Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts, Avocado, and Feta

Delicious butternut squash vegetarian salad that's filling enough for a main course meal

Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword butternut and feta salad, butternut squash salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 1 Large Butternut Peeled and Cut into Chunks
  • 1.5 Lbs Tomatoes of Assorted Colors, Cherry and Martini
  • Olive Oil
  • Course Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts Toasted
  • 2 Avocados Sliced into Wedges
  • Handful Fresh Mint Shredded Finely
  • 1/2 Lb Feta Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tbs Italian Parsley Chopped Finely


  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 tbs Honey
  • Course Salt
  • Black Pepper


  1. Drizzle the butternut and tomatoes with some olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Place on separate baking trays and roast them for about 40 minutes.

    NOTE: You want to make sure that the butternut is softened but not too brown.

  2. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a single layer without covering them so that they don’t become soggy.

    NOTE: You can leave tomatoes in the oven to dry out further.

  3. Place some Arugula on the bottom of a platter. Top with the roasted vegetables, nuts, avocado, feta, mint and parsley

  4. Drizzle with dressing.


  1. Heat the olive oil and vinegar on low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  2. Add the honey and whisk.

  3. Season with salt and pepper. 

  4. Cool and set aside until ready to use.

    CHEF’S TIP: Only dress the salad just before serving and serve at room temperature. 


Pomegranate Chicken Salad with Couscous and Spiced Chickpeas

Hostess Gift Guide Chicken Couscous

Take “chicken for dinner” to the next level with some Moroccan flair This channels a delicious meal coming out of a tagine in Marrakech. The Pomegranate Chicken Salad recipe makes a perfect potluck dish.

The colors are so festive and the taste is phenomenal. And you’ll want crunchy spiced chickpeas to eat by the handful. By the way, the gift guide has some great gifts that are sure to delight your hosts.

Hostess Gift Guide Chicken Couscous
5 from 1 vote

Pomegranate Chicken Salad with Couscous and Spiced Chickpeas

A mouthwatering Mediterranean main course salad with chicken, couscous, spiced chickpeas and a dash of beautiful pomegranate seeds.

Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword main course salad recipes, pomegranate chicken salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 1 cup Couscous
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1.25 cup Almonds, Blanched and Sliced
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans, Drained and Rinsed
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Lemon, Juiced and Zested
  • 1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
  • Handful Mint, Torn
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling

Pomegranate Chicken

  • 12 Chicken Thighs (You Can Use Breasts)


  • 2.5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup Pomegranate Molasses
  • 1 Lemon, Juiced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 2.5 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2.5 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Springs Mint
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  1. Cook couscous according to the packet instructions. Fluff with fork to break up any lumps, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. Place the blanched almonds in a skillet and toast on medium-high heat until golden brown. Set aside and cool.

  3. In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add chickpeas, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing often, until crisp and golden.

  4. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute. Transfer all the contents of the pan to the couscous, along with the toasted almonds.

  5. Add the pomegranate seeds, mint, lemon zest and a good drizzle of olive oil and gently toss to combine.

  6. Finally top with sliced Pomegranate Chicken.

Pomegranate Chicken

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat – working in batches, cook the chicken (about 5-6) minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Pour into a ziplock bag and add chicken – seal and shake well.

  3. Marinate in fridge for at least 6 hours overnight.


Tips for Creating Your Own Main Course Salads

Lisa Ende shared her winning formula for creating salad recipes that are delicious and satisfying to stand alone as a main course..

Think of the salad in terms of taste, color and texture. When you are choosing your ingredients, include greens, a grain, nuts or seeds, and protein.

Here are some combination ideas. Just add a protein of your choice and some beautiful color like perfectly ripe tomatoes or yellow pepper.

  • Arugula, Couscous & Pistachio
  • Baby Gems, Toasted Quinoa & Pine Nuts
  • Super greens, Brown Rice & Black Lentils.

We hope you enjoy these main course salad recipes as much as we do. You can make them all for an around the world dinner party or just celebrate a certain area. All of these make terrific potluck dishes that will definitely impress!

You can easily make these dishes vegan friendly by replacing the protein with tofu or leaving it out all together.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

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Travel Inspired Main Course Salad Recipes that are easy, delicious and will remind you of your favorite trips.


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  • Reply
    Cin Di Lo
    September 15, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    The pomegranate chicken salad had my name written all over it 😍 YUM! Can’t wait to try these.

    • Reply
      September 18, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Yay! They’re delish!

  • Reply
    Hilda Smith
    September 12, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I love all the fabulous colours in your food pics. A feast for the eyes indeed.

    • Reply
      September 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you Hilda. Lisa always emphasizes that color on the plate is really important.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    I”m pinning these recipes! So many wonderful ideas here. The hubs and I often eat salads on Sunday nights. We’ve been on an arugula kick lately. Thanks for sharing fresh new ideas for us. Can’t wait to try them!

    • Reply
      September 10, 2019 at 4:09 am

      Love the salads on Sunday idea. Hope you enjoy the new recipes!

  • Reply
    Christina Daggett
    September 9, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    These recipes sound so healthy and delicious! I can’t wait to try them!

    • Reply
      September 9, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      I’m so glad you like them!

  • Reply
    Barbara Eskowitz
    September 7, 2019 at 2:28 am

    All of these main course salads sound divine, and the travel destinations do too! Thanks for the recipes. Now I’m hungry. xx

    • Reply
      September 7, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      Thank you! Lisa Ende is such a great cook and her food is always amazing.

  • Reply
    kara fox
    September 6, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    5 stars
    I want eat every salad from this blog while traveling to everyplace you wrote about. wonderful information. thank you!

    • Reply
      September 6, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you! That sounds like a perfect idea.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2019 at 11:05 am

    These all look delicious!!

    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Reply
      September 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      They are! 😊

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