This vegetarian twist on chef's salad features crisp romaine, plant-based chicken tenders, and a handful of refreshing vegetables. It comes together in just about 20 minutes and is super easy to customize!
As much as I enjoy ultra-nutritious kale salads and spinach salads, it's hard to beat a chef's salad made with crisp romaine, vegetarian chicken tenders, and ranch dressing.
File this one under "childhood favorites" like chili mac and sloppy joes, which I still gladly eat as an adult.
When I was a kid, chef's salads were my favorite thing to order at restaurants. They are traditionally made with julienned meats like turkey, chicken, and ham, along with hard-boiled eggs. I no longer eat meat, but I still love making a giant chef's salad for lunch or dinner.
If I was a chef, this would be my chef's salad. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
- Balanced: Nutritious veggies and seeds are paired with chef's salad classics like hard-boiled eggs, meatless chicken tenders, and cubed cheddar cheese.
- Versatile: This recipe has a lot of ingredients as-is, but it is really easy to swap out ingredients to make this chef's salad your own.
- Texture: There are a lot of textures going on here, from crispy romaine wedges to creamy cheese and pops of sunflower seeds.
- I like to use my vegan ranch dressing recipe, but you can easily use store-bought ranch to save on time.
Ingredients and customization
- Romaine hearts: I usually roughly chop one romaine heart per salad. I like that the hearts have a mix of crunchy pieces and leafy pieces.
- Cherry tomatoes: These add a great pop of acidity and color. Grape tomatoes also work well.
- Vegetarian "chicken": I usually use Quorn chicken nuggets or Beyond chicken tenders. They are best if chopped up into bite-sized pieces.
- Seeds: Roasted pumpkin seeds and roasted sunflower seeds are a great way to add texture and a touch of salt. These are two ingredients that I always have on hand for salads and to use as toast toppers.
- Ranch dressing: Feel free to do homemade ranch or storebought. My chipotle ranch also goes really well here.
- Cheddar: I prefer sharp cheddar. I buy a block of cheddar and dice it into cubes. Colby jack is another good option.
- Peppers and cucumber: Green pepper is my go-to for chef's salads, but snacking peppers also work well here. Diced cucumber is a very refreshing addition.
Recipe tips and variations
- This recipe makes two large chef's salads. It can easily be doubled or cut in half depending on how many you are serving. These are best served immediately.
- Other good additions are avocado, carrots, hemp seeds, sliced mushrooms, croutons, and crispy chickpeas.
- Make this meal vegan by using my vegan ranch dressing, omitting the hard-boiled egg, and using your favorite vegan cheese alternative.
- If you don't love ranch dressing as much as I do, this salad also goes well with lemon vinaigrette, a simple balsamic vinaigrette, or tahini dressing.
Looking for more salads?
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Vegetarian Chef's Salad
- 2 large eggs
- 6 ounces plant-based chicken tenders or nuggets see note #2
- 4 cups romaine leaves see note #1
- 1 ounce sharp cheddar cubes
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ½ small cucumber diced
- ½ small green bell pepper diced
- 2 teaspoons roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 teaspoons roasted sunflower seeds
- 3-4 tablespoons ranch dressing
- Make the hardboiled eggs by placing two eggs in a pot. Cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the water, then cool in ice water. Peel and slice before adding to the salad.
- Cook the vegetarian chicken tenders or nuggets according to package instructions. After cooking, chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Divide lettuce between two large bowls. Divide the remaining ingredients between each bowl. Adjust amounts to taste.
- Toss with ranch dressing just before serving. Enjoy!
- Romaine: I buy romaine hearts and roughly chop them. One romaine heart usually makes about 6 cups.
- Chicken nuggets: I use Beyond or Quorn brand, but also enjoy Gardein.
- Hard-boiled eggs can be made and refrigerated for up to a week before using.
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