Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
A no-fail way to turn those leafy greens into a crave-worthy meal.
If you’re not totally in love with the thought of salads, discover salads at their full potential with these salad-building tips:
Choose Your Mood
Before getting started, figure out what flavors you’re aiming for. If in the mood for taco night, a beef fajita-inspired salad could easily do the trick. Or, allow seasonal flavors to guide you. If pears are in season, use them as your starting point to create a deliciously satisfying experience.
Pick a Vessel
Making a visually-appealing salad starts with what you serve it on (or in!). If it’s a salad-to-go, layer ingredients in a mason jar so you can see the beautiful, contrasting colors. Or, unpack your grandmother’s old china set and build a delicate salad using a plate that brings back cherished memories from the past.
Build the Base
Iceberg lettuce certainly has its place in the world of salads, but don’t forget about the wide range of other ingredients you can use for the base– like whole grains, marinated vegetables or specialty lettuce blends. Experiment with something new, whether it’s tender butter lettuce, spicy arugula, whole grain pasta or a bed of quinoa. The possibilities are endless.
Add Flavor Enhancers
Get creative and add flavors, textures and pops of color to your canvas. Besides the usual cucumbers and tomatoes, what other veggies could you add to tie into your salad theme? Perhaps roasted beets, jalapenos or corn would add unique flavor and textures.
When it comes to fruit, let a handful of berries, roasted grapes or dried apricots help your salad sing!
Next, decide if your salad could use something else like protein – crispy tofu, Cajun-seasoned chicken or seared salmon will turn your salad into a one-dish meal. If cheese is called for (and when is it not?), sprinkle on additional flavor with bleu cheese, fresh mozzarella pearls, sliced provolone or crumbled Cotija.
Up the Crunch
Move over croutons, it’s time to add variety to the crunch department! Pull out all the stops with glazed walnuts, candied pecans, sunflower seeds or spicy-seasoned pumpkin seeds. Get creative with crispy tortilla strips, bacon crumbles, fried onions, Parmesan crisps or pan-toasted orzo. Once you consider all your options, you may wonder why you waited so long to move past your old standbys.
Dress It Up
What you dress your salad with provides a final punch of flavor while tying all your ingredients together. Check out both refrigerated and shelf-stable dressing varieties— be bold with a new flavor.
Experiment with making your own dressing from scratch, it’s easier than you think! A simple blend of high-quality extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper is all that is needed for a delicate combination of flavors. And homemade Ranch-style dressing made with freshly-picked herbs can’t be beat.