This Rainbow Salad Bowl with Maple Dijon Dressing makes a colorful and light main course salad. And, even more important for those busy weeknights, composing this rainbow salad can be as quick and simple or as involved as you want.
You can also serve this rainbow salad as a side salad for a simple main course like these cast iron chicken breasts or a roast. Or bring a large rainbow salad to a potluck and brighten everyone’s day.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s healthy to eat the rainbow!
- As simple or as complicated as you want.
The key to this rainbow salad, as with my rainbow fruit tart, is to use produce that is fresh and in season locally. If there are ingredients in the rainbow salad recipe card that you can’t find or are being shipped from the other hemisphere, please substitute a similarly-colored ingredient from the variations and substitutions below.
Tip from the wise quacker: this recipe does work best with balsamic vinegar, because the sweetness of the balsamic complements the maple syrup. You don’t have to use the most expensive balsamic you can find. But it’s true that the better your olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the better your vinaigrette.
Variations and substitutions
To turn this into a main course salad, add some slow-roasted pumpkin spice chickpeas, a can of beans, or some chopped leftover chicken for protein. Or, if you need color substitutions, here are some other ingredients you could include in your rainbow salad:
- Red – beets, carrots
- Orange – carrots, roasted pumpkin or orange sweet potato
- Yellow – carrots, squash, yellow tomatoes,
- Green – green beans, green onions, green pepper, peas or snap peas, zucchini
- Blue – a challenge! Maybe you can find some blue corn?
- Purple – purple onions, purple kale, purple beans or snap peas
Tips and tricks
Prepping the rainbow salad ingredients
Chop and slice the vegetables into your desired sizes and shapes. For salads, try to cut things into single bite-sized pieces.
If you want to create some sort of design on your plate or bowl, even one as simple as stripes or concentric circles, it is helpful to lay out your pattern beforehand. That way you can see how the colors work together and do any necessary rearranging before you start.
Composing the rainbow salad
The base of most grain and salad bowls is a layer of greens. Pick a handful or two of your favorites, wash with several rinses of cold water, and spin them dry. The maple Dijon salad dressing clings better to dry lettuce leaves.
I personally like romaine and butter lettuce, spinach, and kale. But I would recommend almost anything over iceberg lettuce, which has little nutritional value.
Next, add your vegetables in rainbow order. That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Make the maple Dijon dressing
Homemade salad dressing is one of the easiest things you can make. This maple Dijon dressing is a simple vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, a bit of Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. You can make salad dressings ahead of time, but don’t dress your salad until right before serving.
While the classic ratio for vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar, this recipe is written as two to one. Feel free to increase the oil to three-quarters of a cup if this maple Dijon vinaigrette is too tangy for your taste.
What to serve with this rainbow salad bowl
This rainbow salad bowl will complement most any meal, but here are some suggestions using my favorite recipes.
- Cast iron chicken breast
- BBQ chicken meatballs
- Taco meatloaf
- Roasted cauliflower burgers
- Cavatappi mac and cheese
The dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or so. Clean jam jars are great for storing salad dressings because they can be securely closed if you need to re-emulsify the dressing.
Yes, you can prepare the rainbow salad topping a day or two in advance and the whole salad about an hour or so before serving. Add the salad dressing to the salad immediately before serving, or, even better, serve with the dressing on the side.
Dijon mustard is just a style of mustard that originated in Dijon, France centuries ago. You should feel free to experiment with other types of mustard.
You can make a honey mustard dressing with honey in place of the maple syrup.
Related salad and dressing recipes
Check out other recipes for salads and other side dishes like:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Rainbow Salad Bowl with Maple Dijon Dressing
- 4 cups lettuce, spinach or other leafy greens washed and dried
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli florets lightly steamed, if desired
- ½ cucumber, washed and sliced
- ½ cup blueberries, washed and dried
- ½ cup red cabbage, chopped
- 2 radishes, washed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup roasted chick peas, can of beans, or cubed chicken optional
- ½ cup roasted red or orange beet, peeled and cubed optional
Maple Dijon Dressing
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare all of the salad ingredients and arrange them on a plate or baking sheet if you are planning to arrange them in a pattern in your bowls.4 cups lettuce, spinach or other leafy greens, 1 carrot, peeled and sliced, 10 cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped, 1 cup broccoli florets, ½ cucumber, washed and sliced, ½ cup blueberries, washed and dried, ½ cup red cabbage, chopped, 2 radishes, washed and thinly sliced, ½ cup roasted chick peas, can of beans, or cubed chicken, ½ cup roasted red or orange beet, peeled and cubed
- Place half of the greens in your bowls or on your plates. Arrange the remaining bowl ingredients in a stripe or circular pattern over the greens following the rainbow pattern of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Maple Dijon Dressing
- Add all of the maple Dijon dressing ingredients in a jar and shake or whisk vigorously to mix the dressing together.½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Taste and adjust as needed, adding more oil or vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Shake or whisk again immediately prior to serving.
This rainbow salad bowl with maple Dijon dressing was first posted on June 12, 2022. It was last updated April 13, 2023.
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?