Fresh and Tasty Cheese Salad (speedy high protein)
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With summer on its way, it’s the perfect time to try out some new salad recipes and I can’t wait for you to try my tasty cheese salad! If you hate a boring salad and you love cheese this is definitely one for you.
I don’t know about you, but when the weather starts warming up I crave healthy meals that are light and simple to make.
This salad is definitely one of those easy recipes as it can be put together in under 15 minutes.
Making it a great option for a quick lunch, or if you don’t want to turn up to a last-minute barbecue empty-handed! (Click this link if you’re trying to find vegetarian recipes for any occasion)
The best thing about cheese salad recipes like this one is they don’t have a lot of ingredients and you can easily find everything you need in the local grocery stores.
Staple salad recipes are a great thing to have in your repertoire if healthy eating is important, but I’ll get into why later one.
The first question you might have though is ‘what cheese should I use?’, so let me explain.
What is the best cheese for salads?
Medium to hard cheese works best in this particular salad as we want to have a little ‘bite’ to it. I love a good cheddar!
To those of you that are new to cheddar cheese then I suggest looking for one that has been matured for about 12 months.
Any less and it won’t have the full tangy flavor that cheddar should have (though you can get away with 9 months at a push).
Much more than 12 months (especially 18 months and above) and we’re starting to head into ‘vintage’ cheddar territory.
While I personally love vintage cheddar, I wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point.
Of course, cheddar isn’t always available – or maybe you just don’t like sharp cheddar. In that case, simply use your favorite cheese.
I would recommend one of these alternatives:
- Blue cheese, which is semi-soft and slightly salty. Did you know that the veins on the cheese comes from edible mold it’s made from called Penicillium (sound familiar?).
- Feta cheese, another salty favourite! This Greek delight is aged in brine and made with a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk.
- Halloumi cheese, hailing from Cyprus also has a salty taste and is delicious when grilled.
- Creamy goat cheese, is made purely with goat’s milk and has a nice tart flavor – perfect for a salad!
- Parmesan cheese. Not always vegetarian (especially in Europe), but very tasty. Vegetarian versions are generally available, under different names. Interestingly, outside of the European Union, they are mostly vegetarian anyway.
- Salad cheese. A cow alternative to feta, and tastes a little less ‘sheepy/goaty’.
- Soft cheese like brie. I prefer the harder cheeses in this salad, but can you still make it work!
- Mozzarella. Definitely a viable alternative! Either a large ball chopped up, or my favourite – mozzarella already packaged as small balls of cheese. Delicious!
- Cottage cheese. Makes things look a little messy for sure, but if taste and high-protein is what you’re after then go for it!
- Swiss cheese. Generally medium to hard, and so fits well in the salad. No problems there.
Of course, there is much more than just cheese in this fine summer salad, so let’s find out what that is!
So we know how important cheese is cheese lover but you need something else with it to make it a salad!
Any good salad needs some fresh green leaves in it of course, but you don’t have to be complicated or fancy.
I love some simple lettuce, think romaine, or baby gem, which ever you prefer. Or, if you want a bit of color how about some purple kale?
The key is that it’s fresh, that way it will taste amazing and the texture will be good as well, no one wants soggy leafy greens!
Why do cheeseburgers have pickles on? Why do people love cheese and pickle sandwiches?
Because cheese and pickles just go together! So I couldn’t make my cheese-layered salad without some pickled gherkins. They add to the tang and crunch factor which I love in a salad.
If you’re not a pickle fan, or you can’t find any you could add some crisp cucumbers instead if you like.
Another crunchy ingredient is red onion. This will add to the crunch and also add a pop of color too!
To finish this salad you need the perfect complement and this dressing is just right for that. I mixed extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup (you could also use honey or agave syrup if you want).
To top it off I seasoned it with a pinch of salt and black pepper and some parsley and then you’ve got a banging salad!
How many calories are in salads with cheese?
My salad contains 516 calories and 21 grams of protein.
Here are the other nutritional values from the recipe card:
Now you might think the healthiest salads wouldn’t have cheese in them, but it’s important to have a balanced diet to be healthy and cheese can absolutely be a part of that.
Although cheese does have a higher calorie count and high amounts of fat and salt, it is also a great source of calcium and protein for vegetarians.
But obviously, if weight loss is a goal of yours it’s all about portion control.
So if you follow my recipe this salad is definitely going to help you reach your protein goals for the day and help you to lose some weight within a calorie-controlled diet.
If you’re going to add an extra handful, or two, then maybe it won’t (no judgment here!).
In terms of the salad leaves, I recommended Romaine or Baby Gem lettuce over Iceberg because other than water there isn’t much nutritional value in Iceberg lettuce.
So definitely opting for a more leafy salad leaf is the best option for nutrition. Not only does it have more fiber but minerals like iron too.
If you’re looking for more meals to help you on your weight loss journey then please download your free 7-day weight loss meal plan.
It is full of inspiration to help you get on track. For even more take a look at the weekly high-protein meal plan for weight loss.
How to make cheese salad
Time needed: 15 minutes.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s really quick and easy to make.
- Dressing time
Make the salad dressing first so it’s ready for when you need it. Mix the white wine vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and olive oil together in a small mixing bowl.
- Prep time
Slice the red onion into thin half rings: thin is important. Put them into the dressing to soak. Give the salad leaves a quick clean and dry. Chop or rip it into small pieces and put it in a large bowl.
Slice the cheese into strips and add to bowl. Slice the gherkins into strips as well, and add to the bowl. Give the parsley a quick wash, shake and slice it into small pieces. Add to the bowl.
- It’s salad time!
Mix the salad around then pour the dressing over the top. Give it a good mix to make sure everything is fully coated and serve!
Cheese salad recipe FAQs
No question is too cheesy for us!
This salad is best eaten fresh however if you want to save some for later pop it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.
I would recommend eating it within 2 days so the leaves are at their best.
If you know you’re going to keep some leftovers I would say to keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat it.
I chose to serve my salad with a slice of whole grain bread, you could always toast this or maybe opt for some garlic bread instead.
Yes, you could make this salad ahead during meal prep for a couple of days, but I probably wouldn’t make a week’s worth in case the salad goes bad.
Cheese is a great addition to any salad, it’s a source of protein and calcium, but just watch how much you use as it can also have a high sodium and fat content.
Adding herbs to a salad is a great healthy way to add flavor. Think classics like basil, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, mint, or dill.
You could try a different herb each time and see which works best with your salad.
I would say put the cheese in on the day you’re going to eat it.
If you want to try some variations to this recipe take a look at these:
- Add extra veg: Maybe gherkins aren’t your thing but don’t worry you could swap them out or add extra veg such as juicy tomatoes, kalamata olives, bell peppers, or creamy avocado.
- Different cheese: I’ve already mentioned plenty of options for delicious cheeses above however if you’re still hungry for more, how about Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, or cottage cheese if you prefer?
- Different dressing: If you’re not keen on my dressing why not try a simple balsamic vinaigrette or some lemon juice?
More recipes like this
If you love my cheese layered salad check out these recipes:
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp mustard
- ½ tbsp maple syrup (honey or agave syrup is fine too)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ red onion
- 2 handfuls salad (lettuce or purple kale)
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese (or 7oz = 200g)
- 4 pickled gherkins (around 3oz = 100g) (in a jar, spiced) (called pickles in the US and Canada)
- 1 bunch parsley, fresh
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the white wine vinegar, mustard, maple syrup (or honey), salt, pepper and olive oil together in a small mixing bowl.3 tbsp white wine vinegar, ½ tsp mustard, ½ tbsp maple syrup, Salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp olive oil
- Slice the red onion into thin half rings. Thin is important. Put them into the dressing to soak.½ red onion
- Give the salad a quick clean and dry. Chop or rip it into small pieces and put in a large salad bowl.2 handfuls salad
- Dice the cheese and add to bowl.1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
- Slice the gherkins into strips as well, add to bowl.4 pickled gherkins
- Give the parsley a quick wash, shake and slice it into small pieces. Add to bowl.1 bunch parsley, fresh
- Mix the salad around then pour the dressing over the top. Give it a good mix to make sure everything is fully coated. Serve!
- Serve with a slice of wholegrain bread on the side
This is definitely one of my favorite go-to salad recipes in the summer months, and it’s a great one for the whole family.
Take it to the office, make it for a friend, or take it to any special occasions you may have – sharing is caring remember!
For extra weight-loss salad ideas take a look at this collection of 24 weight-loss salads, and hit your summer goals in no time.
I’m such a huge fan of cheese … and salad. I especially love the pickles you’ve thrown in.
Hey Jeff! Haha, no arguments from us there :D. Yes, the pickle really adds something to it – deffo gives it more of a kick!
Hi Dave. thanks for the decadant salad idea. I want to make it but seeings how the pickle is very important, I thought I’d better check it out. Can you be more specific about the type. To me, in Canada, a gherkin is usually a small, sweet pickle, and a cornichon is a small very sour pickle. But what is in your pictures doesn’t seem to be either of those. Thanks. Mary
Hi Mary, good question. I just had a look to see the differences – and it seems in Canada you’d call it a pickle (if this article is right anyway). To us it’s a gherkin – this is what we used. See what you think https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickled_cucumber and I’ll update it in the recipe! 🙂
I have never ever seen reciepes like these before… they quick, creative, and healthly too. And amazingly they are such good ideas and easy just to rustle up when you have no time. Thanks. I would to get more of your updates.
Ah, thank you Nina! You can sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you recipe updates 🙂 https://hurrythefoodup.com/hurrythefoodup-newsletter-sign-up/
Delicius recipe, thank you! Wishes from USA