An Ideal Lunch Salad Recipe

There's all sorts of good stuff in this salad - chickpeas, celery, black olives, pepitas, avocado, blanched broccoli. Full of crunch & substance, it's a salad that can stand up to a few hours in a container without collapsing.

An Ideal Lunch Salad

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+.

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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 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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

Julia B

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.


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.


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.


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!


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. :)


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 ;)


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!


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.

Kim @ Cook with 2 Chicks

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


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

Karl (Karlodagrape)

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.


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


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....


Deaaaaaaaaaaar God, yes.

Bev @ Bev Cooks

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.

Carol t

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?


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!:)


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!


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!


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