Moral of the story: toss your salad on a sheet pan.
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Alex Guarnaschelli’s next to a Winter Cobb Salad
Credit: JENNIFER CAUSEY, Getty Images / Michael Stewart

Pictured recipe: Winter Cobb Salad

It's no secret that we at EatingWell are pretty obsessed with salads—we even have a 30-day challenge all about making the most of those big bowls of veggies, toppings and delish dressings. Now a new tip from Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli has us rethinking our usual salad routine.

On a recent episode of The Kitchen, Guarnaschelli shared a recipe for a simple sheet-pan salad that's packed with crispy chickpeas and drizzled with creamy buttermilk dressing. The recipe came up as part of The Kitchen hosts' ingredient relay game, but Guarnaschelli says the sheet pan is more than a gimmick—using a long, flat cookie sheet as a serving dish "allows you to season everything really easily" and evenly, the chef wrote on Instagram.

And while you could try this serving and seasoning trick with all your favorite salad recipes, The Kitchen co-host Jeff Mauro added that it's an especially good idea for salads with iceberg lettuce, since tossing an iceberg-based salad could cause you to lose some of the lettuce's trademark crunch and juiciness.

Guarnaschelli's simple side salad starts with two heads of roughly chopped iceberg lettuce, scallions, a sliced red onion, red wine vinegar, sugar, scallions, paprika and canned chickpeas. Scatter the iceberg lettuce all over your sheet pan with salt and pepper, then prep some tangy pickled red onions by combining water, sugar, vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then pour it over your red onion slices in a bowl for a quick pickle.

Drain, rinse and dry off your canned chickpeas, then toss them with a little paprika and salt. Guarnaschelli fries her chickpeas in oil to get them crispy in just a few minutes, but you could cut down on oil by making the crispy chickpeas in your oven or air fryer—just make sure you give yourself about 20 minutes for the air fryer or 45 for the oven. When the chickpeas are crispy and dry, sprinkle them on top of your salad. 

Guarnaschelli's pièce de résistance is a super-creamy dressing made with buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, fresh garlic, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, hot sauce and chopped dill. If that much dairy sounds a little rich, you could swap in a light but creamy dressing like our Vegan Ranch, Creamy Garlic Dressing for lots of body. Whatever dressing you choose, drizzle it over your sheet pan for an even coating that will cover your veggies exactly how you want it. Then top with the sliced scallions and pickled red onion for extra flavor and acidity.

"It's kind of like having a classic iceberg wedge with the crispy bacon, but you're going vegetarian with these chickpeas," Katie Lee Biegel, another The Kitchen host, pointed out on the show. She also added that she was definitely going to steal that salad for lunch. (If you have extra chickpeas on hand from making this salad, you could use them for the Hamburger Helper-style skillet dinner that Biegel made in this episode.)

If you don't want to go the all-veggie route, Guarnaschelli recommends swapping in chopped bacon, sliced steak, chicken, fish or shrimp—the salad is a blank canvas for all your favorite proteins. Something simple, like our Meal-Prep Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs or 30-minute Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp, would take your salad to the next level in no time at all.