This healthy Caesar Salad Recipe is topped with salmon for a hearty meal with plenty of protein. Dairy Free Caesar Dressing included!
If you lose your love for salads when the seasons change, I've got the perfect recipe for you today! This healthy caesar salad recipe with seared salmon is everything. It features a homemade dairy free caesar dressing that is sure to renew your love of salads. Perfectly seared salmon gives the dish plenty of protein – this is not a wimpy salad that will leave you hungry an hour later!
Perhaps my favorite part though is the nod to the season with ingredients like kale, apples and walnuts that make it the perfect healthy winter dinner.
To make this healthy caesar salad recipe, you'll start by preparing the dressing. Simply add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. So easy! I like to make the dressing as part of my meal prep day.
To assemble the salad, start by thinly slicing the red onion and apple. I like to do these steps before searing the salmon because it cooks so quickly.
Then sprinkle your salmon with salt, garlic powder and coriander and sear it, cooking in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes per side, on the stovetop. Toss your salad ingredients with the homemade caesar dressing, top with seared salmon and enjoy!
One more tip before we get to the recipe. If you want to take the flavor to the next level, try toasting your walnuts. You can do this either by cooking in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes or by toasting in the oven for a few minutes. You can find lots of details on the best way to toast nuts here.
Healthy Caesar Salad Recipe with Seared Salmon
For the Dairy Free Caesar Dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp dijon*
- 1 tsp tamari
- 1 cup avocado mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
For the Salad:
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 apple
- 5 oz chopped romaine
- 5 oz baby kale
- 4 salmon filets
- 4 oz shaved parmesan, optional
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 T olive oil
For the Dairy Free Caesar Dressing:
- In a blender add: 2 cloves garlic + juice of 1 lemon + 1tsp dijon + 1tsp tamari + 1c avocado mayonnaise + 1/4tsp salt + 1/4tsp pepper. Blend until smooth.
For the Salad:
- Slice ½ red onion.
- Thinly slice 1 apple.
- Sprinkle salmon filets w/ 1/4tsp salt + 1/4tsp garlic powder + 1/4tsp coriander.
- Heat 2T olive oil in a large sauté pan over med heat. Add 4 salmon filets to pan. Cook ~3-4 mins per side or until flaky.
- Toss romaine + baby kale + sliced red onions + apple slices + walnuts w/ Caesar dressing to taste.
- Top salad w/ seared salmon.
What makes this a healthy caesar salad recipe?
The number one thing that makes this a healthy caesar salad recipe is the lack of processed ingredients.
Homemade salad dressing is not only tastier than store-bought, it's much, much healthier. Using walnuts instead of croutons for crunch also gives this salmon caesar salad a serious boost. Lastly, this simple caesar salad recipe contains plenty of protein and healthy fats from the salmon and walnuts, making it a great choice for an entree salad that will actually keep you full.
Want to know more? Here are some of the nutritional highlights from this seasonal salad:
Garlic (Beneficial Sulfur Compounds, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium)
Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer. Eating garlic may also help prevent colds and other minor illnesses.
Scientists believe these substantial health benefits may stem primarily from garlic's sulfur compounds such as allicin, diallyl disulfide and sallyl cysteine.
Lemon (Vitamin C, Citric Acid)
Just one lemon provides 51% of the daily recommended vitamin C. This is important not only to fight colds, but for long term health as studies show consuming produce with vitamin C helps prevent heart disease and stroke. Consuming lemons may also help protect against anemia and kidney stones, likely due to their citric acid content.
Avocado Mayo (Oleic Acid, Lutein, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Antioxidants)
This recipe calls for avocado mayo, the main ingredient of which is avocado oil. Avocado oil provides substantial amounts of oleic acid, a quite healthy type of fatty acid believed to be very good for your heart. In addition, avocado oil's Vitamin A and Vitamin E make it good for your skin. It's lutein content supports good eye health. Finally, extracts from avocado oil may help combat arthritis.
Red Onion (Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Antioxidants, Folate, Potassium)
Did you know that the humble onion is actually packed with antioxidants? Antioxidants help protect you from free radicals that cause things like cancer and heart disease. Onions also have beneficial sulfides and polysulfides which may help protect against cancer.
Apple (Vitamin C, Antioxidants, Fiber)
Apples contain vitamin C and lots of antioxidants like flavonoids that may protect against cancer. They're also a great source of fiber, which helps with healthy digestion.
Romaine (Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Potassium)
Romaine lettuce is good for your bones, your immune system and your eye health.
Kale (Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium)
A cruciferous vegetable, kale is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. It also contains the omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid. One caveat – if you have thyroid issues, talk to your doctor about whether it's safe for you to consume kale. Cruciferous vegetable like kale can interfere with thyroid function in those with certain conditions.
Salmon (Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium, Antioxidants)
Salmon is one of the more powerful sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show Omega-3s can help reduce blood pressure, fight inflammation and even decrease the risk of cancer.
B vitamins are also abundant in salmon. B vitamins help you have enough energy and also help fight inflammation. There are some nutritional differences between farmed salmon and wild salmon. In particular, wild salmon contains greater levels of potassium, which can help you maintain healthy blood pressure. Salmon's selenium content makes it a healthy choice for both your bones and your thyroid.
Walnuts (Copper, Folic Acid, Phosphorus, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Vitamin E, Antioxidants, Polyphenols, Fiber)
Many consider walnuts to be the healthiest nut, in part due to their high antioxidant content. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, as well as supporting healthy brain function and healthy gut bacteria. They are a true super food!
How else can I use dairy free caesar dressing?
This dairy free caesar dressing is so versatile! Here are a few ideas on additional ways to incorporate it into your meal plan:
- Drizzle on wraps: If you haven't made our caesar salmon wraps yet, they're a must! These would also be delicious with chicken. A homemade dressing or sauce keeps wraps from being dry and really kicks the flavor up a notch.
- Use as a dip for crudites: A veggie side for dinner doesn't always have to be complicated…or even cooked! Sometimes I just cut up whatever veggies I have on hand (carrots, peppers, cucumber, cauliflower, etc.) and serve with a dip like homemade ranch or this caesar. This is a particularly good side for burgers or other sandwiches.
- Prep ahead salad dressing: I almost always prepare a homemade salad dressing as part of my weekly meal prep. It only takes a few minutes and makes it WAY more likely that I'll eat salads throughout the busy work week.
Is this a good meal prep salad?
Yes! This healthy caesar salad recipe works well for meal prep, and was in fact featured on one of our Super Fast meal plans. I recommend waiting to finish and dress the salad until you're ready to serve but completing just a couple of quick meal prep steps will help dinner come together quickly.
First, slice your onion ahead of time. (Check out my no-tears method here!) Next, make your homemade caesar dressing ahead of time and store in the fridge.
Lastly, if you do plan to toast your walnuts, you can do that as part of your meal prep but that step is totally optional. On the night you plan to serve the salmon caesar salad, you'll slice your apples, cook your salmon and assemble the salads. And that's it!
FAQ – Everything You Need to Know about this Healthy Caesar Salad Recipe
Can caesar salad be healthy?
Yes! This version of a caesar salad is quite healthy. Why? It uses a homemade caesar dressing made with real ingredients. Additionally, this recipe uses walnuts for crunch instead of croutons. It has plenty of protein, fiber and healthy fats, making for a delicious and balanced meal.
What dressing is healthiest for salads?
Homemade salad dressing is healthiest for salads, every time. You can control the ingredients, such as choosing a healthy oil like olive oil. There are many healthy homemade salad dressings to choose from so find a homemade version of your favorite and go with that.
What to put in salad to make it filling?
Fiber, protein and healthy fats make salads filling. Most salads already have plenty of fiber so you don't have to worry about that. Make sure to add protein to your salad, particularly if it's an entree salad. Consider things like salmon, chicken, steak, nuts, hemp seeds or beans for a protein boost. For healthy fats, olive oil, avocado and nuts are excellent options.
What is the secret to making a good salad?
To me, there are 3 secrets to making a good salad: homemade salad dressing, a variety of flavors and including different textures, particularly something crunchy.
Is it okay to eat a salad every day?
Yes! Eating a salad every day is not only okay, it's a great choice. I always include a prep-ahead salad on our gluten free and paleo meal prep meal plans to make eating salads throughout the week easy.
Does caesar dressing contain dairy?
Caesar salad dressing often contains parmesan, which is a dairy food. My version featured in this healthy caesar salad recipe is dairy free.
I want more easy winter salad recipes!
I know for many, salads are more of a spring and summer thing but there are actually a ton of great winter salads. The key is to change the flavor profile a bit to fit the season. I find adding items like pomegranate, winter squash, pecans or walnuts and apples or pears results in a salad perfect for the colder months.
Here are a few of my favorite easy winter salad recipes:
Kale is such a hearty green, perfect for fall and winter. This salad features apples, walnuts and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It's incredibly simple, perfect for a dinner side dish or as part of a packed lunch, perhaps with some chicken or a homemade soup on the side.
I just love the apple cider vinaigrette here. It's so festive, perfect for fall and winter salads. Harvest cobb salad makes a great entree salad, for either lunch or dinner. Hard boiled eggs add plenty of protein while apples add a sweet crunch and blue cheese adds the perfect tanginess. Can you tell this is a favorite??
Pomegranate arils are one of my favorite winter salad ingredients. They're juicy, lovely to look at and add such a pop of flavor. Grilled steak makes this salad hearty enough for a dinner entree. If it's too cold to break out the grill where you are, feel free to cook the steak indoors. It will still be delicious!