Healthy Homemade Pittsburgh Salad

The “Burgh” is famous for “Pittsburgh Salads” topped high with cheese, french fries, fried chicken or steak. I know, they are so yummy but unfortunately, they are not so good for our health or our weight so I have come up with a Healthy Homemade Pittsburgh Salad recipe for you today. Make them this week I am sure that your family will thank you.
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Growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania, I am used to seeing french fries on top of salads in pretty much every casual restaurant. If you have been to Pittsburgh or if you are from this area, you know that we are home to the famous Primanti Bros restaurant that is known for putting fries and coleslaw on their sandwiches and salads. Also, in my hometown, The Union Grill has this Cajun Chicken salad that is amazing with fries on top, of course. So, I am guessing that Primanti Bros is where the “Pittsburgh Salad” comes from but I could be wrong. If you know, please let me know!
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I love ordering salads when we eat out, but most of the time I am thinking of 10 ways I would improve the salad. Therefore, I started making them at home.
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Here’s how I build our Pittsburgh salads at home:
Step 1. Greens. The majority of “Pittsburgh Salads” I see in restaurants use iceburg lettuce which has very little nutritional value. Use leaf lettuce or mixed greens. Get creative and rip up some raw kale or swiss chard. Don’t be stingy with the greens. Make the majority of your plate full of greens. The health benefits of more greens in your diet is never-ending. Most of us are not getting nearly enough!
Step 2. Veggies. Iceburg lettuce is the only veggie I see on alot of “Pittsburgh Salads.” Get creative and top your salad with green peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms, etc. Make it your own! Don’t worry, fries and cheese are coming too!
Step 3. Sweet Potato Fries. I promised you fries. Use sweet potato fries as a healthier alternative. Compared to regular potatoes, a.k.a. blood sugar bombs, sweets rank relatively low on the GL scale. And the fact that they’re packed with nutrients and disease-fighting fiber (almost 40 percent of which is soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol) makes them a sweet deal indeed. Sweet potatoes are extraordinarily rich in carotenoids, orange and yellow pigments that play a role in helping the body respond to insulin. Also, they are rich in the natural plant compound chlorogenic acid, which may help reduce insulin resistance. You may not think of vitamin C when you think of sweet potatoes, but they’re actually an excellent source. That’s important when you’re battling high blood sugar, because the vitamin’s antioxidant powers may help keep arteries from being damaged. Vitamin C may also help fight heart disease and complications of diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage. Make your own or buy some frozen sweet potato fries. My favorite brand is Alexia.
Step 4. Cheese. Add a little cheese. Don’t overdo it here! When I do have a craving for cheese I try to buy locally. Right now I love Emerald Valley Artisan Cheese in Scenery Hill, PA. So delicious!
Step 5. Protein. Chicken, steak, hard boiled egg or even some beans. Don’t knock it until you try it! Try to buy the best quality animal protein you can buy. Buy local when you can. Remember, it is all not created equally. Make sure you include protein any time you make a salad a meal!
Step 6. Dressing. Try to make your own dressing for a change. You will save money and a ton of calories and fat. My favorite right now is a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Step 7. Toppings. Top your salad with some organic whole grain croutons or try some raw nuts or even some dried fruit. I love dried cranberries on mine for a sweet and tart taste.
So, instead of ordering a “Pittsburgh Salad” at a restaurant next time you have a craving, try to make it at home. Make it a fun meal idea with the kiddos.
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  1. How about a recipe for a good, healthy, all-purpose vinaigrette? I’m sure your readers would appreciate that.

    1. Thanks for the idea Brian! I will put some ideas in a future blog. I love to do simple dressings like vinegar and oil or lemon juice. Stay tuned for some other awesome ideas! 🙂

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