If your dinner routine is becoming lackluster and uninteresting, you should consider livening it up by adding deconstructed dishes to the mix. Deconstructed dishes take the foods normally combined in a dish, change their forms, and then reconstruct them in a different way. It’s especially easy to take your favorite sandwiches and enjoy them as salads as a healthier option. Ready to give it a shot? These six recipes transform hearty sandwiches into delicious salads.
1. Deconstructed Falafel Salad
No need to visit the food truck when you can make street food at home in the form of a salad. This deconstructed falafel salad found on Food Network brings the baked chickpeas to you, and puts them over a salad. Ditch the pita and leave more room for greens, vegetables, and a sauce made from lemon juice, yogurt, tahini, and garlic.
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced (about 1½teaspoons)
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce (about 1 head)
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
- Hot sauce, for serving, optional
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together oregano, thyme, and cumin with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Add the chickpeas and then the olive oil, and toss until the chickpeas are evenly coated with the spice mixture. Spread the chickpeas out onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Add the parsley leaves to the bowl where the chickpeas were tossed. Gently stir the parsley leaves so they are coated with the leftover oil and spices and set aside. While the chickpeas are cooking, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven, sprinkle the parsley leaves on top of the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes.
To serve: On a large platter, put down a layer of the chopped lettuce and top with the tomatoes and cucumbers. Scatter the crispy chickpeas over the top of the salad. Drizzle the yogurt and tahini dressing over top of the chickpeas, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve with hot sauce on the side if desired.
2. Deconstructed Chicken Club Salad
Interested in trying a different way to chow down on the iconic chicken club? Make it into a salad, as this recipe from Martha Stewart suggests. The food formula for this deconstructed chicken club salad serves four and it’s one that everyone (even salad haters) will enjoy eating. You can easily prepare its components ahead of time and then arrange them at the start of the meal.
- 6 slices bacon
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (6 to 8 ounces each)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick, plus ½ cup celery leaves (optional)
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- Lettuce leaves, for serving
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foi, and lay bacon in a single layer on prepared sheet; bake until it begins to render its fat, about 10 minutes. Turn bacon over, and slide to one side of sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Bake until bacon is browned and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate, let drain, and crumble. Let chicken cool completely. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, celery, celery leaves (if using), mayonnaise, and vinegar. Cut chicken into ½-inch chunks, and add to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Serve chicken salad over lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with bacon.
3. Deconstructed Guacamole Salad
If avocado toast is one of your favorite meals, the food formula from Eating Bird Food is for you. It yields a deconstructed guacamole salad that allows you to get your avocado fix for the day, but helps you resist overdoing it with the bread.
- 8 cups spring mix
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup red onion
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½-1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
Directions: Starting with ½ teaspoon of sea salt, place all ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and shake to combine.
Divide ingredients evenly on four plates, and top with dressing.
4. Deconstructed Gyro Salad
Enter the deconstructed gyro salad from Paleo Cooking. This recipe serves six to eight and only takes 10 minutes of prep time. The lamb will take about 2 hours to cook but then you’ll have the leftovers you need to construct this gyro salad again and again.
- 3-4 pounds lamb shoulder roast (or beef)
- 2 tablespoons dried mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- Diced tomatos, red onion, cucumber
- Shredded lettuce
- Fresh parsley or mint (or both!), minced
- Hard-boiled eggs (optional)
- ½ teaspoon dried mint
- ¼ cup Olive Oil Mayo
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- ½ teaspoon za’atar
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ clove garlic, minced (about ½ teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Directions: Cut the lamb shoulder into 3- to 4-inch chunks. Place the lamb pieces in a large ziplock bag.
In a small bowl, rub the mint and oregano leaves between your palms to crush them. Add the cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; mix with a fork until blended. Add the spice blend to the bag, zip it closed, and shake until all the lamb pieces are coated with the spices.
Place the lamb in a large pot. Pour the lemon juice into the bottom of the pot, then add water to just cover the meat.
Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rip-roaring boil. When it’s rolling, reduce the heat to keep a steady, strong simmer with the pan uncovered. The liquid should bubble a fair amount. As the water evaporates, the acidic qualities of the lemon juice tenderize and flavor the meat.
At about the 2-hour mark, check the pot. The water should be much lower. Allow all the water to cook out of the pan. Carefully turn the hunks of meat — without shredding them — to brown all sides, then remove the hunks to a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes before eating.
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, crush the dried mint with your fingers, then add mayo, parsley, za’atar, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Arrange the raw vegetables on the plate, add the lamb, drizzle with the dressing, and sprinkle with minced, fresh herbs.
5. Deconstructed BLT Bread Salad
This next recipe is a deconstructed BLT bread salad from Cooking Light. As its name suggests, this salad is a reproduction of the iconic BLT, made a little healthier. But not to worry, because there’s still bacon involved, along with the other components that make up the traditional sandwich. This time, the tomatoes and onions are plated atop lettuce and drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette. Crunchy homemade croutons finish things off.
- 6 ounces French bread baguette, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Cooking spray
- 4 slices hickory-smoked bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
- 1½ pounds plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch wedges
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Layer bread on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until toasted.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Cut bacon into ½-inch pieces. Stir oil into bacon drippings in pan; remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, pepper, and salt.
Combine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions in a large bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette. Add bread; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese. Serve immediately.
6. Deconstructed Vegetable Sushi Bowl
Last, we’re highlighting a different kind of recipe transformation from Nutrition Stripped. It will teach you how to nix the rice and turn your favorite sushi into a salad. Sushi salad can be just as good as sushi rolls if you’re looking for a lighter option, and this one comes dressed with a flavorful peanut sauce that combines sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sriracha. Construct your vegetable sushi bowl by placing your greens on the bottom, the rice in the middle, and the vegetables on top, and you have yourself a healthy sushi meal you can make right in your kitchen.
- 1 to 2 cups greens (spinach, romaine)
- ½ cup cooked rice
- ½ red bell pepper, julienned
- ½ cup mushrooms, marinated in soy sauce
- ¼ cup red onion, julienned
- ¼ avocado, sliced
- ½ large carrot, julienned
- ½ cup cucumber, julienned
- 1 to 2 nori sheets, torn or cut into strips
- ½ cup pea shoots or sprouts of choice
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- ½ inch fresh ginger, grated
- ½ tablespoon organic peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons nama shoyu (or soy sauce)
- dash of sriracha sauce
- sesame seeds to garnish, optional
Directions: Prep vegetables and set aside. Cook rice according to package directions.
To build your bowls, start by placing the greens on the bottom. Next, layer rice and arrange the toppings. To prepare dressing, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Adjust seasonings. Pour the dressing on top just before serving.