A fresh, filling and flavorful salad that you can toss together in a matter of minutes for an amazing lunch any day of the week with these great salad staples always on hand. Our Favorite 5-Minute Lunch Salad!
I eat this amazing salad pretty much every day for lunch and it just never gets old. I crave it all morning and count down the hours until I can quickly make and enjoy it for lunch.
I make sure at the beginning of each week to have all of the ingredients I need to make this salad so it’s a no-brainer when it comes to a tasty, healthy, filling and fabulous lunch.
Here’s my shopping/check list for the week (to make 4 salads):
- 2 chopped salad mixes (most grocery stores offer a great variety of these now)
- 1 large pear or apple
- 1 red onion
- 1 small container cherry tomatoes
- 1 jar Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola (from Trader Joe’s) Girard’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette is also very good and can be found at most grocery stores.
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
- dried cranberries or cherries
- honey sesame cashews (from Trader Joe’s)
- candied walnuts (can be found at most grocery stores. I love the ones sold at Trader Joe’s because they’re lightly sweetened)
- crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese or feta
Of course, several of these ingredients like the vinaigrette, dried cranberries, nuts and cheese can last you more than a week.
All of the textures and flavors compliment each other so well. You don’t hear too many people say they’re addicted to a salad, but I am definitely addicted to this one. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Love it so much!
Let me walk you through all the yumminess I toss into it:
Chopped salad greens are key. I think a variety of chopped greens, especially the crunchy ones like kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli combined with veggies like cabbage and carrots make for such a great base to build an awesome salad on.
I’m hooked on the chopped salad kits that are sold in bags in the produce section of most grocery stores these days because they’re such a convenient way to get a good variety of chopped greens and veggies without having to spend a lot of time washing and chopping and dicing. I find them on sale at the store quite often so I’ll stock up on as many as I think I can eat before they reach their “best by” date.
I usually use just the salad portion of the kit because I prefer all of my other tasty additions and vinaigrette much better.
I can usually get two salads out of one bag and below are three of my favorite varieties that I find at Target or Tom Thumb. I also love the Cruciferous Crunch Mix from Trader Joe’s.
My absolute favorite vinaigrette right now is this Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola from Trader Joe’s. You can find it in the refrigerated produce section by the salad mixes. For a pre-made vinaigrette, it’s so impressive. It tastes homemade and has just the right flavor to add to the salad without overbearing it. It’s a lighter vinaigrette that’s lower in calories, fat and sugar compared to a lot of other pre-made vinaigrettes out there!
If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, Girard’s has a light champagne vinaigrette that’s tasty too. OR you could make your own! 🙂
Okay, so you know which greens to get and which vinaigrette to dress the salad with, so now you need your protein. I prefer chicken, but you could, of course, prep any protein to put in the salad throughout the week. Beef, shrimp, salmon or just avocado would be great substitutes for the chicken.
I just pick up a 1 pound package of boneless skinless chicken tenderloins at the beginning of the week and pan-sear them all to store in the refrigerator so I can easily chop up two of the tenderloins each time I want to make this salad.
Here are my tips for pan-searing the chicken tenderloins to perfection:
Generously salt and pepper tops of the tenderloins before transferring them, seasoned side down, to a medium-heated skillet that’s been drizzled with a little olive oil. Season the other sides of the tenderloins with salt and pepper while the first sides sear. Sear for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned before flipping and searing for another 3 minutes on the other side. Cover the pan with a lid and let continue to cook for another 2 minutes to add steam/moisture and insure they’re cooked all the way through without drying out.
Greens, check! Vinaigrette, check! Chicken, check!
Now gather all the other goodness that goes into the salad and get yourself a medium-sized mixing bowl. I love mixing and eating my salad out of the same bowl (less dishes = happy me!).
If you’re preparing the salad to take with you to work or you’re on the ball and prepping several salads in advance for the week, you could layer everything in a container with a lid like this…
Since the vinaigrette has pear flavor to it, chopped fresh pear compliments it so well, but I’ll also use chopped apple just as often.
I use gorgonzola cheese most often because there are little bits of gorgonzola in the vinaigrette, but I also find blue cheese and feta cheese to be just as tasty.
For the nuts, I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s sesame honey cashews and lightly candied walnuts. The slight sweetness and awesome crunch of both of these nuts compliment the salad so well. I’ll crush the nuts a bit before mixing them in to give the salad a little more nut coverage. I’ll sometimes use pistachios in place of or in addition to these nuts if I’m in the mood.
And then there’s chopped red onion, sliced cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries (I’ll sometimes use dried cherries).
Like I said, I’ll keep everything stocked and handy so I can just grab and toss it all together in the mixing bowl. It seriously takes me just 5 minutes to prep and it’s so darn delicious!
I always toast a big hunk of our favorite Golden Aged Boule from Whole Foods at 350°F in the oven while I’m tossing together the salad because I’m big on having bread with my salads. 🙂
I hope you find this salad as convenient and delicious as I do. I try to eat a big salad every single day and I make sure it’s always a great one!
A fresh, filling and flavorful salad that you can toss together in a matter of minutes for an amazing lunch any day of the week with these great salad staples always on hand.
- 2 cups chopped salad greens (kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.)
- 1/4 cup chopped pear
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced into fourths
- 2 tablespoons Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola (from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon sesame honey cashews, crushed a bit
- 1 tablespoon candied walnuts, crushed a bit
- 1 heaping tablespoon crumbled gorgonzola
- 2 pan-seared boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, chopped (about 1/2 cup chopped or shredded chicken)
- Place chopped greens, pear, red onion and tomatoes in a medium mixing bowl. Toss in vinaigrette. Add remaining ingredients and toss again until everything is evenly coated and combined. Enjoy!
To Pan Sear the Chicken Tenderloins: generously salt and pepper tops of the tenderloins before transferring them, seasoned side down, to a medium-heated skillet that’s been drizzled with a little olive oil. Season the other sides of the tenderloins with salt and pepper while the first sides sear. Sear for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned before flipping and searing for another 3 minutes on the other side. Cover the pan with a lid and let continue to cook for another 2 minutes to add steam/moisture and insure they’re cooked all the way through without drying out.