An Ideal Lunch Salad

An Ideal Lunch Salad Recipe

I took this shot at 7:05 the other morning, just before walking out the door to pack a small mountain of boxes related to our last round of QUITOKEETO. It takes quite a lot to get each package bundled safely and sent on its way, and a proper lunch break on packing days is something I look forward to. We clear the long table, throw down a few sheets of butcher paper, and put out a spread. There's usually a thermos of tea, some fruit, a chunk of Wayne's bread, a bit of cheese, and whatever I've managed to pull together. I try to make things like this. You have to look closely, there's all sorts of good stuff in this salad - chickpeas, celery, black olives, pepitas, avocado, blanched broccoli...I was after crunch and substance. A salad that could stand up to a few hours in a container without collapsing.

An Ideal Lunch Salad

A couple notes....I used arugula because I love it, and it was what I had on hand. That said, shredded romaine would be a nice alternative - more structure and crunch. And, I did about ten minutes of prep the night prior - a bit of chopping, and pulling together the dressing. The dressing, by the way, is great on all sorts of things - broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower. And I bet you could do a potato salad with it that would be A+.


An Ideal Lunch Salad

3 celery stalks, very thinly sliced
1 cup chickpeas (equivalent 14-ounce can), drained/rinsed
3 handfuls arugula or shredded romaine lettuce
1/3 cup toasted pepitas or almonds
15 black olives, chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 small head of broccoli florets, blanched

Creamy Miso Dressing:
1 medium clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
big pinch of ground cumin
1/3 cup / 80 ml plain yogurt
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream, or to taste

1 small ripe avocado, sliced

In a large bowl combine the celery, chickpeas, arugula, pepitas, olives, onion, and broccoli. Set aside. Make the dressing by smashing the garlic into a paste in a mortar and pestle (or alternately, with a knife). Stir in the miso, then add the mirin, and vinegar, and combine until it all comes together. Add the cumin and the yogurt, and stir again before finishing with the heavy cream. Taste, and adjust the dressing if needed.

Before serving, add half of the dressing to the other ingredients and toss well. Keep adding more dressing until it is to your liking, adding the avocado toward the end so it maintains its structure.

Serves 2-4, depending on what else is served.

Prep time: 10 min

Print Recipe

For new recipes & inspirations

Your Comments

February 26, 2013

Structure and crunch, that's all I'm looking for in a salad.
I love the use of blanched broccoli here as well as the pepitas. Makes for a great combo!


Averie @ Averie Cooks
February 26, 2013

It looks so green, fresh, and...fluffy! And the pepitas probably add a fabulous crunch. Mmm, nice and healthy!


February 26, 2013

Heidi, do you think that the dressing would keep for a few days in the fridge?

HS: It will!


February 26, 2013

thank you! i'm always looking for new ideas for lunch and here is where i find them. you changed the way i cook and eat, heidi, i wanted to tell you this for a long time. thanks! :)


Little Kitchie
February 26, 2013

Truly a gorgeous salad! That dressing sounds absolutely fabulous!


February 26, 2013

Looks great, I like the idea of the miso dressing


Belinda @zomppa
February 26, 2013

The dressing sounds wonderful - how nice that this salad holds up for longer than 10 min!


February 26, 2013

Thanks for this post, Heidi. It's that time of year when I'm feeling a bit out of ideas on the '' front. What's available is limited, and ideas for new combinations are always appreciated. The dressing sounds perfect. Can't wait to try this tomorrow! Also, a tip, re: Broccoli: For the first time in my life I have a microwave and actually learned a great trick for blanching broccoli from a friend: I simply put the chopped florets in a microwave-safe bowl, add about 1/2 inch of water, loosely cover with cling wrap and microwave for about 60 seconds. It seems to steam the broccoli the perfect amount, keeping it bright and crunchy but tender--with the added bonus of not having to haul out a pot, boil water, etc. I find myself adding broccoli (and cauliflower) to salads much more frequently now. I hate it raw, but it's great and fuss-free this way. I've never been a fan of microwaving food, but I figure consuming more veggies probably offsets the downside. Do you have/use a microwave? It's so convenient, but I always feel like I'm cheating :(


February 26, 2013

This is my favourite type of lunch - simple and healthy! I must use broccoli in salads more, it tends to take a back seat when it comes salads..


Simply Life
February 26, 2013

yum! this does look like an ideal salad!


Eva @ 1 Big Bite
February 26, 2013

Love this kind of salads!
I like to add peanut butter to miso dressing.
Hope you have fun on your "packing days".


leaf (the indolent cook)
February 26, 2013

Lots of good stuff indeed and that dressing sounds divine!


Diane @ Vintage Zest
February 26, 2013

I love how green the salad is!

So many times I find myself trying to eat a rainbow of colors, that I lose the green freshness of my salad. It looks amazing, and sounds like a great contrast of flavors and textures. :)


Katie (A Fork in Hand)
February 26, 2013

Oh, that dressing looks just lovely! I've already been craving salads even though we're still in a deep freeze here in my neck of the woods. I think I'll be tossing a big bowl of greens with this dressing sometime very soon.


natalie @ wee eats
February 26, 2013

This salad looks amazing! I can't wait to try the miso dressing, I keep seeing recipes for it but just haven't mustered the nerve to actually purchase some miso :)


February 26, 2013

Delicious!! To veganize the dressing I think I'll just use cashew cream and thinn it out a bit. Can't wait to taste it.


February 26, 2013

Thanks so much for this! I'm pregnant and have to avoid my usual salads with feta or goat cheese - but I won't miss those a bit with this delicious recipe.


February 26, 2013

Love the idea of using miso and yoghurt as dressing! :)


Karen @ leaf + grain
February 26, 2013

Such a lovely combination of green and crunch. And I have to say, your dressings never fail me - original and delicious.


Maureen Abood
February 26, 2013

I can't wait to make this salad, and looking forward to checking out brown rice vinegar. I love rice vinegar but haven't tried that. Thank you!


February 26, 2013

This looks like it would be fantastic with some shredded Brussels sprouts in place of, or in addition to, the arugula. And tossed with some soba noodles for dinner. Yum!


February 26, 2013

I'm so loving that you're posting more everyday meals! I love that they're still super healthy options for busy on the go people!


February 26, 2013

What I love most about this post is the alternative suggestion for arugula! I worked through a bunch and decided its just not my thing, however its flavor and profile is so unique I get stumped for substitutes!:)


February 26, 2013

Heidi, can you tell us the difference between white miso and regular miso? Whole Foods wasn't able to help me and they only had regular, but your cookbook and recipes often use white. Are they interchangeable?

HS: Hi India - there's not really a short answer here. Getting to know the spectrum of available misos can be a bit daunting. There is white, brown, red, barley, brown rice, and on and on, and on....Here's the wikipedia ...some are much saltier than others, and each has a distinct flavor. I'm not sure what they have labelled as "regular" but if in doubt, just by a miso that looks good or interesting, and add a bit at a time, until the flavor is too your liking....Sometimes I even blend misos....say, a sweet white miso with the deeper-flavor of an aged red miso. It's a whole world of flavor to explore for sure. Hope this helps at least a bit?


Carol t
February 26, 2013

Could I forego the heavy cream if I used Greek yogurt? I never seem to keep cream in the frig and always have yogurt around.

HS: You can skip it altogether. That said, I really love the mouthfeel it brings here, and the way it thins the dressing out just the right amount.


Bev @ Bev Cooks
February 26, 2013

Deaaaaaaaaaaar God, yes.


February 26, 2013

Ohhhh, this salad looks amazing. I too want to make the dressing more vegan--was thinking of using either a nut-based cream as Marci suggested or was wondering if tahini would work as a substitute for yogurt? I really enjoy your blog and the photos.

HS: Or just substitute your favorite non-dairy dressing. Actually, maybe a coconut milk version would be fun to experiment with? In place of the yogurt? Might be worth a try....


February 26, 2013

Looks wonderful ..that dressing looks out of this world.


February 26, 2013

Love the dressing!
Ellen, you can eat goat and feta as long as it's pausterized. At least that's what my midwife told me when I was pregnant with my kids.


Karl (Karlodagrape)
February 26, 2013

Extremely versitile salad/dressing: I can imagine hundreds of variations, by adding some crisp apple, carrot, zuchini, and even fresh mushroom slices at times....


February 26, 2013

this dressing sounds awesome! i'll have to keep an eye out for mirin. photos are amazing as always.


Kim @ Cook with 2 Chicks
February 26, 2013

This looks like my kind of salad. Although I am not a huge fan of creamy dressings I am leaning towards substituting with my lemon, olive oil and cumin dressing.


February 26, 2013

I'm trying to up my lunch game, Heidi, to incorporate more veg and salads, and this is a perfect way for me to turn over a new leaf :) Starting right now. Thanks!


February 26, 2013

Heidi, I love literally everything I've ever made off this site, but I have to say, you're smoking something with these prep times. Maybe their should be a disclaimer: Prep time: 10 min (team of chopping elves included) :)-

HS: Hah - this made me laugh. I will admit, I'm a focused (and pretty efficient) chopper ;)


February 26, 2013

Emminently customisable, full of different textures and flavours and that dressing is the stuff that salad dreams are made of (and I can even veganise it :) ). Love the recipe and the fact you use it to recharge after a particularly stressful busy morning. :)


February 26, 2013

hi heidi!

I have a newfound appreciation for non-fussy meals that hit the spot (veggie packed, healthy, and satisfying).
Before, I used to try to tend towards aspirational meals or try new things and techniques, but these days I'm so grateful for the simple and healthy meals that grace my plate.

Thank you for sharing more about the meals you make when things get a bit busy. Loving it! And good luck with the mountains of boxes!


February 26, 2013

This salad looks wonderful & the dressing sounds amazing. I am preparing a Crunchy Vietnamese Cabbage Salad tonight and I will be using this dressing. Thanks for sharing! One day, I just know I will get one of those knives from QUITOKEETO before they sell out!

HS: I'm so sorry Kristin - it remains shocking to me how quickly they go. The good news is, we have a sizable shipment coming in soon.


February 26, 2013

This hearty salad is right up my alley. I love using from what is available and finding the results to be (sometimes) surprising and fantastic. Sublime!

ps - I love how you painstakingly packaged the treasures from QUITOKEETO... effort not wasted. So lovely that they will be photographed to include in my next blog story.

HS: !! :) I'll keep my eyes peeled Melina! Looking forward to seeing them in your lovely photos. And thank you for the nice note.


February 26, 2013

This looks so yummy! Do you think the dressing would still work with Greek yogurt instead of the plain yogurt? It's all I have at home right now.

HS: Hi Meredith, absolutely - and if the texture is too thick, just thin with a bit of water, milk, cream, etc. and readjust the seasonings.


Julia B
February 26, 2013

This looks delicious! I am always looking for new salads and am excited to try this one.


February 26, 2013

Ohhh yes, this looks like just what I need! Thanks for posting a salad that will stand up in a container until lunch and still be crispy and delicious!


February 26, 2013

This sounded so delicious until the olives. I loathe them. What would you suggest to give the same salty briney taste...capers perhaps?

HS: Hi Ella - I love (deeply) pan-fried capers. I suspect those would be nice here in place of the olives :)


February 26, 2013

No miso on hand.....any suggestions for a substitute. Thanks,


February 26, 2013

I too have been making hearty salads for lunch- it has reached that point in the winter here in Maine where I am craving fresh greens, even if they come from another country. This is inspiring and I look forward to spinning off of it. I also want to say how inspiring the packaging was on the brass hex opener I received in the mail from Quitoquito the other week- I almost saved the invoice in case I ever needed inspiration on how to make in invoice feel personal and show abundant gratitude! So i just want to let you know at least one customer wholeheartedly appreciated the attention to detail you gave the box, postage, wrapping, and the invoice! Thank you!

HS: Thanks Alana! It definitely makes me happy when I hear the packages are finding their way across the country. Here's to many beverages opened amongst friends w/ the brass hex!


February 26, 2013

Here it comes, the kind of question that makes me cringe, but now it's my own: am allergic to soy - would you recommend a substitution for the miso, or best to simply leave it out? Many thanks!

HS: You can leave it out - or maybe do a version with thinned out salted almond butter or something along those lines. Different, but likely tasty.


Heidi, your posts somehow are always so timely for my life. I just had a dreamy dressing at my fave Asian restaurant last weekend, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make it (but I'm craving it!). Lo and behold, I think your dressing is It. THANK YOU! Can't wait to try it on this salad. Cheers to Quitokeeto success!


This sounds and looks incredible! I love your other suggestions that you've offered in the comments.


Cliften Kitchen
February 26, 2013

Hmmmmm Yummy! I know I will love this salad.


Jennifer @ Delicieux
February 26, 2013

Love the sound of that miso dressing. I have some miso languishing in the back of the pantry that I've been meaning to use, and this will be the perfect use! Thanks.


February 27, 2013

Crunch and substance. Perfect words to describe the ideal hearty lunch salad. And that dressing looks awesome!


February 27, 2013

It is so funny, I prefer certain types of salads at different times of year. This one does seem ideal for late-February for sure. I instantly smiled when I saw the photograph. Beautiful!


February 27, 2013

Just wanted to say that I made this last night and it was amazing. In the haze of the grocery store I forgot to buy arugula but did have lacinato (dinosaur or black) kale in the fridge. Sliced that into thin ribbons and it worked perfectly.
Can't wait for leftovers for lunch today.


February 27, 2013

Yum! I've been reading your blog for a while, and I love the combination of healthy and satisfying I find in your recipes. This is a salad I would enjoy eating in a world where I usually suffer through them or cover them with sesame sticks. Lovely photos, as always. I love your countertops.


Fork and Whisk
February 27, 2013

Great idea for lunch. I like that it will hold for the a few hours so I can just bring it to work already dressed. Thanks for the post.


February 27, 2013

love love love healthy hearty crunchy salads for lunch! it's what i look forward to all morning and what sustains me all afternoon. i make a huge glass tupperware of salad to take to work daily. a variety of coleslaws also keep well: beet and carrot or apple and fennel and kohlrabi... if I make my lunch the night before a bit of lemon juice on sliced apple keeps it fresh. the ingredients also do well with asian inspired dressings. otherwise legumes, nuts and hard crumbled cheese are also always great additions. love your photos, love your food philosophy.


February 27, 2013

I loved this dressing! I have been playing with the white miso for all type of dressings. I used it with honey, balsamic, rice wine vinegar and a little sesame oil thinned with water. I thin maybe some dried chili flakes as well. Also it is great as a marinade! I almost have gone through a whole tub and have never actually used for soup! The cumin was really nice addition here and I love the creaminess as well


February 28, 2013

Quick question, Heidi, by the way my daughter's name is Heidi, anyhooo, love your new book, and notice as in this recipe you use avocado, I am finding that in avocados I have been having to toss about 1 in every 3 I am buying, am a new user of avocados and am wondering if it is me or the avocados?? they are black inside when I cut them open, am I ripening them too much? or were they bad to start with, just how do you be sure it is a good avocado to start with?? love the sounds of this recipe, and will be making it very soon, thank you so much.....

HS: Hi Barbara - it sounds like you're buying avocados that are over-ripe. First off, don't be afraid to ask the produce person to help you pick the perfect ones until you get a better feel for it. I typically hold one in my palm and gently squeeze. You can get a sense of how ripe the flesh is this way, and if you can imagine a knife sliding through, you're likely a-ok. If it's still rock hard? Not ripe. If the avocado feels as if you could make it collapse - too ripe. If I need to hold them a few extra days before using - they go in the refrigerator.


February 28, 2013

Just wanted to tell you how much I LOVE your site! I have followed 101CB for a while now and am a huge fan- of your recipes, of your writing, of your photos... I love it all! Thank you for all your inspiration- truly a joy learning from someone who is GREAT at what they do!

HS: Thanks for the nice note Emily - and thanks to all of you for pushing me to come up with (and share) new trying to keep it fresh for all of you. xo


February 28, 2013

This would be a different and awesome meal to bring to friend in need or a new mom. Lots of people bring dinner but I think this healthy salad would be a welcome gift. Thanks for sharing!


February 28, 2013

This salad is the BEST I ever had!


Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir
February 28, 2013

This sounds fantastic. With all the right ingredients in one bowl, sometimes nothing beats a "simple" salad.


February 28, 2013

I just made this (with minor modifications--fried capers in place of olives, almonds instead of pepitas and no beans) and it was GENIUS. Reading the ingredients for the dressing I was a bit hesitant, I almost omitted and tweaked, but I ended up following the dressing recipe and now I have found my favorite dressing as well as my favorite salad. Thank you for sharing this brilliant dish!


Beth Coccaro
February 28, 2013

Heidi -Have you been able to find Miso made from non-GMO soybeans?

HS: indeed! There are a good number of organic misos available.


March 2, 2013

I love how much you use miso and therefore push me to use miso more and more. This dressing is going to be a staple for sure (definitely going to put it on a potato salad) and today it was delish with arugula, roasted winter squash, roasted tofu and avocado. Thanks!


Emily Valentine
March 2, 2013

Can't beat arugula, avocado, olives and pepitas - yum! Love how simple and fresh this looks!


March 3, 2013

I am so looking forward to bringing this salad with me to work this summer. I'm always looking for something that can stay in a container for a few hours and still be yummy!


March 3, 2013

I have been sick and now that I'm feeling better I've been craving a big, green salad. The dressing on this sounds divine!


March 4, 2013

Your photography of food is absolutely wonderful. It is such an inspiration. I have such a hard time getting pictures things I make to look even half as good as they taste. I only just recently found your site and am definitely looking forward to following your updates. Also, this dressing is delicious. Might try toasting the miso the next time I make it. Thank you so much.


Jennifer @ Delicieux
March 4, 2013

Hi Heidi,

Just wanted to pop back and say thank you for this recipe. I made this salad the other day, albeit a green bean version which I had to adapt slightly to suit my husbands tastes, and it was divine. This will definitely become a lunch staple for me. Thanks you!


March 4, 2013

I love chickpeas - But these days I never make a salad without roasting up lots of pumpkin seeds to top it off. In fact its fairly easy to get quite addicted to pumpkin seeds. I've even got a spare bag in the car to munch away at if I'm stuck in a boring jam.


Sheila Johnson
March 10, 2013

I came to your site today looking for a broccoli based salad, so I was excited to see this new post. I wanted to use some leftover tahini dressing I had in the fridge (tahini, tamari, apple vinegar, water) in order to throw together a quick lunch, so this time I skipped the miso dressing and used what I had on hand. The result was wonderful, and a nice vegan option, though I wish I'd added some feta as an exciting finish. Next time I make this salad I'll do the miso dressing- it looks great. Thanks for the inspiration!


Anne-Marie Field
March 10, 2013

Thank you for the salad recipe but I'm really writing to say thanks for the thoughtful and beautiful way you wrap your shipments from Quitokeeto. I've ordered from you twice now and I love getting your box as well as the items! I'm all in favor of you eating a crunchy and inspiring lunch in order to keep this up. Thanks, Heidi!

HS: Thanks for the nice note Anne-Marie! :)


March 10, 2013

A very rewarding salad!