I love pizza as much as the next person, but I know how unhealthy it can be. Even homemade pizza can be oily and loaded with carbs, so I feel like I need to balance it out with something healthy. Instead of loading up the dinner table with buffalo wings, fries, or cheese sticks to accompany the pizza, I prefer a salad.
Salad and pizza go very well together, especially if you choose the right kind of salad for your pairing. I would like to help you choose the best salad recipe to go with pizza so that you have a meal that works well together and that is complementary. Not every salad will be a winner on pizza night, and there are a few I would advise you to steer clear of, like Oriental chicken salad, cobb salad, and taco salad.
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Best Salads to Go with Pizza
Let’s talk about some of the best salads to go with pizza and give you some ideas for your next pizza night.
You don’t have to feel as guilty about what you put on your pizza (as well as what is in it) if you complement it with a healthy salad. Here are my top choices for salad to pair with pizza.
Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas
Not every salad needs to be stuffed with leafy greens and look like your backyard. You can completely forgo the lettuce and other leafy vegetables and try a cauliflower and chickpea salad instead.
The chickpeas need to be boiled to be edible, so it takes more work than your average salad, but you can make a big pot of chickpeas and use the remainder for other dishes. This salad can be packed with herbs to make it flavourful, and the crunchy quality gives it a different kind of feel than your average salad. It works well with the soft bread of the pizza, and the crunchy veggies make for an interesting, enjoyable contrast.
Classic Caesar Salad
I think most people will gravitate toward this one as the best ever salad to go with pizza. The Caesar salad is comforting and familiar, and it is pretty easy to put together. This salad works best when you have high quality dressing to go with it, which you can make yourself. I think it is smart to cut the romaine lettuce for your salad rather than tear it. That helps it retain its crispiness and freshness for longer. You can buy your own croutons or make your own without much trouble. Remember to toss the salad multiple times through the preparation process to make it taste just right.
Spinach and Feta
This one is my go-to unconventional salad. I like the idea of a salad that does things differently, and most people don’t think to use spinach in their salads. I love the distinctive flavour that they add and the way they subtly change the texture. Make sure you get fresh spinach, as that will not be bitter at all, but wilted spinach can start to become bitter.
A really good companion to the spinach is feta cheese, and its favour profile is going to partner so well with what the spinach does for the salad. Then, you add in some other veggies, like tomatoes, red onions, and whatever else you want and top that all off with a drizzle of Italian dressing. Any light, oily dressing will do to help accentuate the flavours and bring out the herb-y qualities of the salad. If you want a richer salad, though, then Ranch dressing will work perfectly well.
Arugula and Fennel
If you want to try something different from lettuce but you like that classic light green colour, then arugula is a good choice. Combine that with fennel for a nice combination of crunchy, sweet, and peppery that goes so well together. You can top that all of with some lemon or lime zest for a nice citrusy flavour, and you have a quick and easy salad in moments.
If you are making homemade pizza, that may take some work, and you might not feel like putting together a high effort salad So, this is a simple and quick way to make a healthy salad, and it is my pick for the best green salad to go with pizza in a hurry. There might be more flavourful salads or ones that accommodate extra toppings better, but this one is the fastest one to make.
Kale and Quinoa
Taking two health foods that are popular right now and combining them to create a tasty salad is a winning combination, I think. Your pizza is likely flavourful, so why make the salad boring and simple? If you are willing to put in some effort into this one, it can taste amazing. There are a few things I like to add to a kale and quinoa salad to make it extra special and to give it a more varied flavour profile.
Roasted almonds give it some crunch and nuttiness, so they are a given for me. Then, I add caramelised onions, which really benefit the overall flavour but work well with all of the other elements in the salad too. They have flavour and pack a punch, but they are not overpowering in this salad. You can top the salad with bacon bits or shredded bacon.
I know everyone raves about how heathy and trendy kale and quinoa both are, and that may throw you off if you prefer not to get caught up in the health trends. However, these two foods do have tremendous health benefits, and part of the reason they are so popular is because they are versatile and tasty, when prepared correctly. They make a good partner for your pizza, giving you something different but still flavourful.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I know you can probably come up with some more or incorporate your own ingredients into the salad of your choice to make it more interesting and enjoyable. Before I leave you, let’s answer a few more questions about pizza pairings.
What is the best wine to go with pizza and a salad? Hearty wines like Zinfandel and Merlot go well with meaty pizzas, helping to handle all that pepperoni and sausage. For a salty pizza, like ham and pineapple, use a Riesling, which complements with acid and sweetness of its own. For white pizza that has no pizza sauce on it, you should consider using a crisp white wine, like Pinot Grigio or champagne.
What other healthy sides can go with your pizza? If you are like me and try not to pair pizza with a bunch of heavy, unhealthy foods, you may have trouble finding side dishes to go with pizza. I think pizza is great on its own, but if you want more, you can try a light pasta, using a lighter olive oil sauce rather than a heavy cheese sauce. You could also use bruschetta or Italian bread as your side dishes, and even corn or steamed veggies make for good sides.
What makes a salad a good pairing for pizza?
A good salad to pair with pizza usually balances the pizza’s richness and heaviness. It should be fresh and light, typically featuring crisp vegetables, a tangy vinaigrette, and perhaps some crunch elements. The salad can also contrast temperature to hot, freshly baked pizza.
Are there salads that pair better with certain types of pizza (e.g., Margherita, Pepperoni, Veggie)?
Yes, certain salads can indeed pair better with different types of pizzas. For instance, a salad with a tangy vinaigrette and crunchy vegetables can cut through the richness of a pepperoni pizza. A fresh tomato and mozzarella salad might pair beautifully with a Margherita pizza, echoing its flavours in a lighter form. A hearty Greek salad with olives and feta could complement a veggie pizza well.
Can these salads be prepared beforehand, or should they be made right before serving?
Many salad ingredients can be prepped beforehand, such as washing and chopping vegetables, but to keep your salad as fresh and crisp as possible, it’s best to toss everything together with the dressing just before serving. Dressings can cause salads to wilt and become soggy over time, so if you’re prepping ahead, keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat.