Healthy Romaine Salad With Za’atar Dressing
This Crunchy Romaine Lettuce Salad is packed with chopped raw vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. Toasted almonds and sunflower seeds add an extra crunch, while fresh mint, parsley, and a za’atar dressing add that punch of Mediterranean flavour. It’s simple, healthy, and delicious!
Salads can get a bad rap for being empty and bland, but I promise you that there are no boring green salad recipes around here!
As a dietitian, I don’t believe in eating a salad just because it’s “healthy” or because you’re trying to force some vegetables in; I want a salad to be a delicious and satisfying part of your meals.
Often what that means is that a salad packs in a lot of different flavours, textures, and balanced nutrition.
This crunchy romaine salad provides a ton of texture from the raw veggies, toasted almonds, and sunflower seeds, and it also packs in tons of Mediterranean flavours from the freshly chopped mint, parsley, and za’atar spice dressing.
You can enjoy this salad as a side to your main meal, or add a source of protein to make it a full meal on it’s own. If you need some inspiration, I share some ideas for what to pair this salad with below.
The base salad recipe is completely gluten-free and plant-based!
All you need to make this easy romaine salad recipe are the following simple, healthy ingredients:
- romaine lettuce
- raw almonds
- cherry tomatoes
- persian cucumbers (can use English cucumbers if needed)
- red bell pepper
- fresh mint
- fresh parsley
- sunflower seeds
- olive oil
- za’atar spice
- garlic powder (or 1-2 garlic cloves)
What Is Za’atar Spice?
If you’ve never heard of this spice blend, you are in for a treat!
While the exact blend can vary depending on the brand you purchase (and the particular region from where it originates), za’atar will typically be a mixture of some or all of the following: thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and salt.
Za’atar is originally from the Middle East and is very popular in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel.
How To Make This Salad Recipe
To make this crunchy romaine salad, you want to start by preheating your oven to 350F.
Spread the raw almonds onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until fragrant (be careful not to burn).
Meanwhile, chop the rest of the salad ingredients.
Remove the end of a head of romaine lettuce, and chop the lettuce all the way up to the tip, spacing your cuts out about 1-inch from the last. The head of romaine will fall apart into nicely chopped pieces. Give the pieces of lettuce a good wash and spin dry.
Continue to chop the cherry tomatoes in half, the bell pepper into one-inch chunks, and the Persian cucumbers into small pieces as well. Thinly slice a few radishes with a mandolin, and finely chop the fresh parsley and fresh mint.
The almonds should be toasted now, so remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Roughly chop them into smaller pieces as well. Transfer all ingredients to a large salad bowl.
Then, make the za’atar salad dressing by combining extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic powder, za’atar spice, salt, and pepper into a small jar. Shake well and pour over salad ingredients. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.
Recipe Modifications & Ingredient Swaps
While I love this recipe as is, feel free to experiment with this recipe based on what you have available. For instance:
- The sunflower seeds can be swapped with other seeds like pumpkin or hemp. You can even leave them out entirely, and just use more almonds (or vice versa).
- You can swap or add other crunchy veggies, like carrots, snap peas, or celery. Steamed beets would taste good too!
- If you aren’t able to find a za’atar blend, you can play around with this dressing by combining some or all of the following spices: thyme, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. Note that thyme is the most prominent flavour! Alternatively, here’s a recipe for making the blend at home.
What To Serve Romaine Salad With
Enjoy this salad as a side dish to your main meal, or add a source of protein to make it a full meal on it’s own.
If you want to throw a protein source on this salad, why not try:
- hard-boiled eggs (as pictured)
- canned chickpeas, for a vegan version
- shredded chicken, if you’d prefer to have it with meat
- canned tuna or salmon, if you prefer seafood
Below are some main dish recipes that I think would taste amazing with the Mediterranean flavours of this salad:
- Crispy Turmeric Salmon With Yogurt Sauce
- Garlic Shrimp With Smoked Paprika & Honey
- Honey Lemon Oven-Baked Salmon With Thyme
- Sautéed Shrimp With Tomato Sauce, Feta & Rice
- Spanakopita Frittata With Spinach & Feta
- Crispy Salmon With Coconut, Honey & Lime
- Baked Salmon With Pistachio Pesto
- The Best Canned Salmon Burger
This salad is best enjoyed immediately. However, if you’re planning to have leftovers or are making it in advance, be sure to wait to add the dressing until right before serving to prevent the ingredients from getting too soggy!
Leftovers (chopped veggies without dressing) will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Romaine Lettuce Nutrition Benefits
Did you know that romaine lettuce is incredibly nutritious?
This leafy green is packed with essential micronutrients, including:
- vitamin C
- vitamin K
- vitamin A (from beta carotene)
These micronutrients work together to ensure our body’s systems are functioning properly, playing roles in our bone health, blood health, nerve, and muscle function.
Vitamins C and beta carotene also act as powerful antioxidants.
Romaine lettuce is mostly made up of water, which also makes it incredibly hydrating!
More Easy Salad Recipes
- Vegan Kale & Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad
- Kale Butternut Squash Salad With Farro & Goat Cheese
- Roasted Broccoli Salad With Cranberry, Farro & Feta
- Grilled Kale Salad With Avocado, Lemon & Parmesan
- Easy Chopped Quinoa Salad With Eggs
- Strawberry, Tomato & Avocado Salad
- Massaged Kale Salad With Sweet Potato, Pomegranate & Goat Cheese
- Strawberry Quinoa Tabbouleh With Feta
Did you give this Crunchy Romaine Salad With Za’atar Dressing Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!
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Get the Recipe: Healthy Romaine Salad With Za’atar Dressing
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Spread the raw almonds onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until fragrant (be careful not to burn). Let nuts cool, and then roughly chop into smaller pieces.
- Meanwhile, remove the end of a head of romaine lettuce, and chop the lettuce all the way up to the tip, spacing your cuts out about 1-inch from the last. The head of romaine will fall apart into nicely chopped pieces. Give the pieces of lettuce a good wash and spin dry.
- Continue to chop the cherry tomatoes in half, the bell pepper into one-inch chunks, and the Persian cucumbers into small pieces as well. Thinly slice a few radishes with a mandolin.
- Next, finely chop the fresh parsley and fresh mint. Transfer chopped romaine, all veggies, toasted almonds, and sunflower seeds to a large salad bowl.
- Then, make the za'atar salad dressing by combining dressing ingredients into a small jar. Shake well and pour over salad. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.