”Salads are so BORING.”
”Salads make me feel like I’m on a diet.”
”What is that, rabbit food??”
Are you a salad-basher? Maybe you’ve heard someone say these before (If you’ve met my dad, you’ll recognize the last one) or never thought much of salads in general. In these cases, I’m hoping this post might open to your mind to the world delicious, varied, colorful salads.
I love to cook, and I would consider salads one of my specialties. You might be thinking, that’s not cooking, in which case I’ll ask you to reconsider. I’m not talking about side salads that come topped with leftover sad cucumber slices or dumped in creamy dressing to drench them in taste.
Where to Begin?
First let’s look at some basic ingredients that are my go-to’s for salads. When my pantry is stocked with the right ingredients, making a restaurant-worthy salad is simple.
-Cabbage (nappa, purple)
Toppings: Fruits and Veggies
-Carrots (shredded, chopped, thinly sliced)
-Cucumber (chunked or sliced)
-Tomatoes (chopped or baby tomatoes)
-Zucchini/yellow squash (I like it raw or grilled)
-Apples (Green or Honeycrisp are my favorites)
-Roasted butternut squash
-Roasted brussel sprouts
Toppings: Nuts, Fats, and Spices
-Shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
-Dried fruit (craisins, raisins)
-Hard boiled eggs
-Cheese (goat, feta, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, manchego)
-Italian herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)
-Apple cider vinegar
-Red wine vinegar
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Toasted sesame oil
-Honey (local and unfiltered)
Steps to a Successful, Sensational Salad
1. Choose a cuisine or theme for your salad (example from my recipes include Italian, Thai, or Mexican).
2. Choose a base, 2-3 fruit/veggie toppings, and 1-2 other toppings. Salads can easily get overcrowded and confusing with too many ingredients. Keep it simple!
3. Pick a dressing combo that suits the theme (i.e. a light, fruity salad would pair well with a champagne vinegar + olive oil combo; a thai salad is topped well with sesame oil + soy sauce + lime juice).
4. Enjoy experimenting! It may take a few combos to find the right balance for yourself. For example, I love red onions, but only if they’re very thinly sliced on my salad and few in quantity. When I make Greek salads, I love everything chopped into big chunks (cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese).
Example Recipe: Summer Strawberry Salad
1. Theme: Summer Refreshing and Fruity
2. Base-Bibb lettuce, Toppings-Strawberries and sliced cucumber, Other Toppings-Walnuts, craisins, avocado, crushed pepper
3. Dressing: Olive oil, Champagne vinegar, Raspberry vinegar
4. YUM! Dive in, share with a friend, and savor the flavors
If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!
What are your favorite salad toppings?