5 Recipes for Hearty and Delicious Mediterranean Diet Salads, by a Dietitian

A balanced salad needs carbs, protein and fat, Nichola Ludlam-Raine said.Nichola Ludlam Raine

  • The Mediterranean diet is widely considered one of the healthiest ways to eat.

  • A balanced salad contains proteins, carbohydrates and fats as well as fruits and vegetables.

  • Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine shared five Mediterranean-inspired salad recipes.

⁣ Whether or not you follow the Mediterranean diet, knowing a few healthy salad recipes can be really handy, especially in the warmer months.

The Mediterranean diet is widely considered one of the healthiest ways to eat, thanks to its links to heart health and a lower risk of various diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

It focuses on vegetables, legumes, seafood and olive oil, wine in moderation and minimal amounts of processed and fried foods, red meat, refined grains, added sugars and saturated fats.

To make a filling salad, you need more than a few lettuce leaves and chopped tomatoes. Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine, who aims to follow a Mediterranean-style diet, told Insider that a balanced salad should contain the following components:


These are our body’s main source of fuel, Ludlam-Raine said. She recommended choosing higher-fiber, whole-grain options when possible, such as quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, or whole-grain pitta. ⁣

“I personally like the mixed grains in the microwaveable bags for my salads,” she said.

Vegetables, salad and fruits

Ludlam-Raine recommended aiming for two handfuls of produce, such as a handful of salad leaves, raw vegetables, roasted vegetables or pomegranate seeds.

“The greater the variety of plant-based foods in your diet, the better your gut microbes will be, which means better physical and mental health,” she said.


“Whether it’s animal or plant-based, protein is digested slowly and helps us stay full longer,” Ludlam-Raine said.

Good sources in salads include chickpeas, feta cheese, mixed beans, hummus, chicken, edamame beans and salmon, she said.


“Fats provide some of the essential fatty acids our bodies can’t produce on their own and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K,” Ludlam-Raine says.

To get a source in your salad, try adding a handful of olives, mixed seeds, slivered almonds, a dollop of pesto, or a drizzle of canola or olive oil, she says.

Salmon and avocado salad

Salmon and avocado salad from Nichola Ludlam-Raine.

Salmon and avocado salad from Nichola Ludlam-Raine.Nichola Ludlam Raine

This salad is a balanced meal because it’s packed with colorful vegetables, healthy fats, protein and whole grains, plus flavor, Ludlam-Raine said.

For two.


  • 2 salmon fillets

  • 1 packet of microwaveable quinoa

  • 2 handfuls of lettuce leaves

  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced

  • 2 handfuls of tomatoes, halved

  • 100 grams of pitted olives

  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1 small handful of fresh basil, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1. Place the salmon in a baking dish and bake at 180°C/356°F for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

2. Heat the quinoa in the microwave according to package directions.

3. Place lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and olives in two bowls and top with quinoa, salmon and avocado.

4. Combine lemon juice, basil and olive oil in a small dish or pitcher to make a dressing and drizzle over each salad.

falafel buddha bowl

A falafel buddha bowl

A falafel buddha bowlNichola Ludlam Raine

This recipe is great for people looking to eat more plants, which can improve gut health, Ludlam-Raine said.

For two.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 1 tablespoon of tahini

  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup


  • 2 handfuls of leafy greens

  • 1 package of microwave-safe grains, such as rice

  • 1 large chilli

  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved⁣

  • 2 small handfuls of chopped cucumber⁣

  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced

  • 6 falafel balls

  • Black pepper for seasoning


⁣1. To make the dressing, simply add all the ingredients to a small jar and shake to combine.

2. Cut your pepper into chunks and roast in the oven to soften for 20 minutes (or use jarred roast peppers). Meanwhile, cook the packet of beans in the microwave according to the instructions.

3. Assembly time: add a handful of salad to cover the bottom of each bowl, then add the cooked peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, rice, avocado and finally the falafel. ⁣

4. Drizzle the dressing and enjoy!

Watermelon and halloumi salad

Watermelon and halloumi salad

Watermelon and halloumi saladNichola Ludlam Raine

This salad will leave you feeling full with the slow-release energy of the mixed grains, plus the fats and proteins in the halloumi, Ludlam-Raine said.

For two.


  • ½ halloumi block, sliced⁣

  • 100 grams of watermelon, cut into cubes/triangles⁣

  • 100 grams of cherry tomatoes, halved⁣

  • ¼ cucumber, diced⁣

  • 1 package microwave-mixed cereal⁣

  • 1 packet of mixed salad⁣

  • Lime

  • 1 small handful of mint leaves⁣


⁣1. Heat a frying pan over medium/high heat with a few sprays of oil and place the watermelon to heat for two minutes on each side to char slightly. When done, remove from the pan and place in a bowl in the fridge to cool.⁣

2. Wash your frying pan and repeat the operation with the halloumi, once grilled on each side, remove from the heat. ⁣

3. Meanwhile, add two handfuls of salad to each bowl and prepare your mixed grains according to the manufacturer’s instructions – add ½ packet to each bowl and garnish with the cucumber and tomatoes.⁣

4. Take the watermelon out of the fridge and add it to the salad, along with the halloumi, mint leaves and a squeeze of lime to finish.

Chicken mozzarella pasta salad

Chicken pasta salad

Chicken pasta saladNichola Ludlam Raine

Ludlam-Raine said this salad provides over 50 grams of protein per serving along with two servings of fruits and vegetables.

For two.



  • 200 grams of cooked whole spelled pasta (or any pasta you have)

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped⁣

  • 100 grams of bell peppers (color of your choice)⁣

  • 100 grams plum tomatoes, halved⁣

  • 100 grams of sweet corn

  • ½ red onion, diced⁣

Pesto sauce:


1. Add the pasta to a large bowl, then the red onion, sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and chicken, then mix.⁣

2. In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, pesto and a little water, followed by a squeeze of lemon and season with pepper. Stir to combine.⁣

3. Pour the sauce over the pasta salad and toss to coat all the ingredients. ⁣

4. Drizzle with optional olive oil and serve.

Vegetable green goddess salad

Green Goddess Salad

This green goddess salad has a vegan dressing.Nichola Ludlam Raine

Ludlam-Raine said this salad provides protein from cashews and edamame beans, and the whole pitta provides slow-release carbs.

For three to four.



  • ½ white cabbage, grated⁣

  • 3 large handfuls of spinach or lettuce, grated⁣

  • ½ cucumber, diced⁣

  • 2 spring onions, diced⁣

  • 100 grams of edamame beans⁣


  • 2 large handfuls of spinach⁣

  • 1 handful of fresh basil⁣

  • 50 grams of cashew nuts⁣

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil⁣

  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast⁣

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)⁣


1. Add the cabbage, spinach, cucumber, spring onions and edamame beans to a large bowl and stir to combine.⁣

2. Add the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor, add a little water if you need to help it loosen and combine.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the vegetables.⁣

4. Serve with a whole pita or any other accompaniment of your choice.

Read the original Insider article

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