This healthy salad is packed with fresh California-inspired flavors making it a go-to option for packable lunch or a light weeknight dinner.
Avocados are one of my all time favorite foods! I have always loved them - mixed up as guacamole, on a burger or a sandwich or just as avocado toast. This post started out as a new version of a turkey burger but it felt a little boring and I've been focused on healthier eating lately so I thought I'd ditch the bread and turn it into a salad. I'm so glad I did!
So, by now you probably know I'm a California Girl at heart! I will always love the place I currently live and am especially loving my new home in Colorado right now - think 300+ days of sunshine each year - that's just about as good as California. To me, California cuisine will always mean fresh flavors and lots of local produce, so this salad is my take on those California fresh flavors.
This salad is beyond easy to make. just mix up the meatballs, toss the ingredients in a bowl add some dressing and you are ready to go. And the meatballs in this salad are so good!! I usually make a double batch of them during my weekly meal prep on Saturday or Sunday. The addition of the toasted quinoa and sunflower seeds give this salad a substantial crunch. I added an Asian inspired dressing to mix it up a little. If that doesn't sound good to you a champagne vinaigrette is a good substitute.
With its assortment of flavors and produce this has become on of my go-to salads for both lunch and dinner - I probably make it at least three times a month!
Meal Prep Tips
- If you prep the meatballs on Sunday you can reheat them for about 30 seconds in the microwave before you assemble the salad. I also often make a double batch of the meatballs as they are good with pasta or rice or even just on their own as a quick lunch or dinner.
- I've been using lots of bagged salad greens lately. While they do cost a little more I like that they are ready when you want to make a salad, no washing or chopping necessary. They also seem to keep a little longer than a head of lettuce so having them on hand gives you salad options for the entire week. Depending on how many salads you want to make in a week I'd recommend one to two bags for the week. Some of my favorites are the chopped kale blend from Whole Foods that I used for this salad. There is also an Asian salad blend that I like. I've seen a few different versions of it that come with dressing and some other things included. It makes a really nice salad base with some tofu or grilled chicken. And of course, you can't go wrong with basic mixed greens as a staple salad base.
things you may want for this recipe
Half Sheet Pan – Half sheet pans are heavy-duty, rimmed baking sheets that have many uses in the kitchen. Becuase they have rimmed edges they ensure juices and sauces stay in the pan when roasting meats or veggies. They also double as a baking sheet for cookies or other baked goods. I have several as I generally use them at least once per day.
Stainless Steel Scoop – Half sheet pans are heavy-duty, rimmed baking sheets that have many uses in the kitchen. Becuase they have rimmed edges they ensure juices and sauces stay in the pan when roasting meats or veggies. They also double as a baking sheet for cookies or other baked goods. I have several as I generally use them at least once per day.
Toasted Quinoa - This is one of those things you can make yourself but since you don't use a lot of it at one time I find it easier to buy it. There are many different brands and I've even seen it in some bulk food sections. It adds a great crunch, and a bit of protein to just about any salad.
You may have noticed that I often link to King Arthur Flour products in my posts. These are NOT affiliate links. I just like their products and have been really impressed with the quality of everything I've purchased from them so often share those with all of you!
California Turkey Meatball Salad
For the meatballs:
- ½ pound ground turkey thigh
- ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- dash of garlic salt
- dash of ground chipotle pepper
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons avocado or other vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
For the salad:
- 4 cups of chopped kale salad mix
- ⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 avocado, sliced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2-3 tablespoons sunflower kernels
- 2 tablespoons toasted quinoa
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- While the oven is heating mix the turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, egg white, parsley, peppers and salt in a bowl. Using a 1-2 tablespoon scoop, form the mixture into meatballs and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool slightly while you assemble the salads.
- While the meatballs are cooking combine the oils, honey, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Mix with a fork and set aside until ready to serve.
- Divide the kale salad mix between two salad bowls. Divide the meatballs between the two bows and top with goat cheese, sliced avocado, cranberries, sunflower kernels and quinoa. Add dressing and toss.