Easy dinner recipes: Simple salads go big with steak, calamari or chicken

If you think salads leave a little to be desired when it comes to a main course, go big by adding meat. A Southwestern-inspired steak, spicy calamari or Chinese chicken salad from Chinois are sure to fill you up.

Chinois chicken salad: Best Chinese chicken salad ever? That’s what one reader thought when requesting the recipe from Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. It is pretty amazing.

Steak salad: Classic Thai beef salad is remade with Southwestern ingredients in this refreshing salad tossed with toasted pumpkin seeds, chipotle chiles, fresh oregano and no shortage of avocado.

QUICK & EASY: 99 terrific recipes in about an hour or less


Spicy calimari salad: Batter-fried squid is tossed with shredded romaine and radicchio and a spicy chili dressing, and then garnished with toasted sesame seeds.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less



Total time: 30 minutes | Serves 6

Note: Although many recipes call for uncooked eggs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found them to be a potential carrier of food-borne illness and recommends that infants, the elderly and immuno-compromised people avoid raw eggs.


1 egg yolk

3 teaspoons Chinese mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons light sesame oil


1/2 cup rice vinegar

3 to 4 tablespoons peanut oil

Salt, pepper

Blend together the egg yolk, mustard, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, peanut oil and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Store in the refrigerator while you make the salad.



10 wonton skins, cut into 1-inch strips

1 small head Napa cabbage


1 (3-pound) roast chicken

2 small heads radicchio, cut into thin strips

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1. Pour enough oil in a skillet to reach a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the wonton skins until golden, 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

2. Select 4 to 8 outer leaves from the cabbage and reserve. Slice the remaining cabbage into thin strips.

3. Remove the skin from the breasts and thighs of the chicken and shred the meat. Combine the chicken, cabbage and radicchio in a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.

4. Arrange the reserved cabbage leaves on the edge of a large serving plate. Mound the salad in the center and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds and wonton skins.

Each serving: 465 calories; 361 mg sodium; 133 mg cholesterol; 29 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 37 grams protein; 1.66 grams fiber.


Total time: 45 minutes | Serves 4

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped (or to taste)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound skirt steak, at room temperature

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 large bunch green onions, green part only, chopped

2 just-ripe Hass avocados, thinly sliced crosswise

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

1. Combine the lime juice, chipotle, garlic, oregano and cumin in a bowl and mix to blend. Set aside.

2. Heat a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over high heat until it is smoking. Cut the steak into pieces large enough to fit into the skillet in one layer. Season each well on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the pieces into the pan and cook until rare, 2 to 4 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the meat. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 5 minutes.

3. Cut the meat across the grain into thin slices. Transfer to a bowl with the juices. Add the lime juice mixture and toss to mix. Season with more salt and pepper if you like.

4. Just before serving, add the cilantro, green onions and avocado and toss to mix. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and serve.

Each serving: 456 calories; 30 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 50 mg. cholesterol; 103 mg. sodium.


Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (includes soaking time) | Serves 6 to 8

Note: This is adapted from a recipe by chef-owner Marc Murphy at Ditch Plains in New York City. Sambal oelek is ground chile paste that can be found in Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

2 pounds squid with tentacles, cleaned and cut into 3/4 -inch-thick rings

1 cup milk

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons sambal oelek

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup soybean or peanut oil

3 cups canola oil, for deep frying

Flour for dredging

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1/2 head romaine, julienned

1/3 head radicchio, julienned

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine the calamari and milk in a bowl and let soak for 1 hour.

2. To make the vinaigrette, combine the brown sugar, sambal, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and soybean oil in a bowl and whisk until blended. Set aside.

3. Heat the canola oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 350 degrees.

4. Drain the calamari completely. Spread the flour into a large shallow dish and, working in batches, dredge the calamari in it. Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess flour. Add the calamari in batches to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Immediately season with salt and pepper.

5. While the calamari is still hot, combine it with the romaine, radicchio and the sesame seeds in a salad bowl. Add half the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add more vinaigrette as needed and serve.

Each of 8 servings: 479 calories; 21 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 32 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 265 mg. cholesterol; 677 mg. sodium.


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