Salads get a bad rap sometimes — sad lettuce, boring vegetables, too healthy with nothing yummy, or unhealthy with too much dressing. I recently discovered a love for salads because they’re so versatile. Everything they have a bad rap for can be changed to your liking for tasty results. You can mix and match so many foods and colors — and a colorful meal means a healthy meal! Also, salads can be inexpensive and use up random produce and leftovers in the kitchen.
For me, making exciting salads came down to rethinking a few key things.
Rethink the greens:
Salads do not need to be made with sad, wilting lettuce. Spinach is a super-healthy and very mild tasting green. I’ve been loving romaine lately. I buy the whole romaine hearts which is the best price per ounce and lasts longer than pre-cut bags.
Rethink the croutons:
Want crunch? Add carrots, cucumber slices, green peppers, or almonds. Want something grainy to soak up the dressing? Add quinoa, rice, crumbled corn muffin, or tortilla chips.
Rethink what “should” be on a salad:
I love adding something tart like green apples, pickles, or dried fruit like cranberries. I also love salty add-ins like string cheese, lunchmeat, bacon, and other leftover meats.
Rethink the dressing:
I like a taco salad with a “dressing” of equal parts cottage cheese and salsa. Another great homemade dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
My favorite dressing is a barbecue balsamic:
2 tsp barbecue sauce
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Few dashes of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients and adjust to your liking.
Rethink the hassle:
Make two or three salads at once and store the extra to use within a couple days.
My favorite salad combos always have a good combo of sweet, tart, salty, and savory mixed together. Romaine topped with sweet corn, beef brisket, dried cranberries, carrots, and barbecue balsamic rocked my world last week.
Basically, anything you can do to create variety and use mix-ins you love will help you master non-boring salads!