Big Salad

Gotta eat salad every day. That’s what all the plant-powered health gurus tell us and I believe them. But when a meal consists of salad and salad alone, it needs to be a BIG SALAD. Substantial, hearty, layered. Filling enough to last you for several hours. Here’s my go-to big salad recipe, perfect for lunch or dinner. 

Once you’ve composed this salad, do it proud by tossing it with a delicious homemade dressing. Get your free Pillar Life Kitchen E-Cookbook here for my three favorite salad dressings: Everyday Balsamic, Creamy Cashew, or Creamy Parsley Vinaigrette.



Total time:

25 min.


  • 1 big beautiful head of romaine lettuce (or the leafy green of your choice), washed and chopped
  • 8 white mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 whole cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 avocado, chopped 
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh chives, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped pickled red onion (learn how to quick pickle an onion in Pillar Tips below)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 ½ cup cooked whole wheat macaroni noodles


  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook macaroni noodles al dente, about 6 minutes total. Keep an eye on them, they tend to cook quickly. Drain and set aside. 
  • Cut the ends off the romaine lettuce, and do a thorough rough chop on all the leaves. You’re looking for bite-size pieces, but not too small. 
  • Place the chopped leaves in a salad spinner (a must-have for any kitchen). Fill the spinner with cold water. Move the lettuce around with your hands to wash. Drain, rinse once more, and spin vigorously until dry. Set aside. 
  • Clean and then slice, chop or dice all the other veg and herbs. Add veg and other components to the bowl first, so that you can determine the amount of lettuce to want to add (the right lettuce to veg ratio in a salad is important!) 
  • Drain and rinse beans. Add to the bowl. 
  • Measure out 1 ½ cup of the cooked noodles and add to the bowl. 
  • NOW add your lettuce. 
  • Toss with homemade salad dressing of your choice and serve a mountain of this goodness on a plate. Dig in. 

Pillar Tips 

Quick-pickle your onion: If you don’t want the sharp taste of raw onion, try this nifty trick – thinly slice one half of a red onion into half-moon slivers (about 3 cups of loosely measured onion). Put the onion in a 25 oz. glass jar. Add 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, and then fill the jar to the top with boiling water. Screw the lid on tightly and give it several good shakes. In about 15 minutes you’ll have pickled onion. This keeps for many weeks in your fridge.
How to dress your salad: A little at a time. Maybe this goes without saying but I’ve made this mistake more than once so I offer this tip. Start with a small amount and toss and taste. Add a little at a time until you get to where you want to be. An overdressed salad is ruinous.

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