Learning to design a salad bowl could be one of the smartest kitchen skills you cultivate.
When you sit down to draft a weekly meal plan, offer salad as a menu item. The key to falling in love with salad is to view making salads an opportunity to flex your culinary creativity.
Build a salad bowl that delights your senses
Start with a Green Foundation
Honestly, the only time iceberg lettuce should take up occupancy in your vegetable bin is for a Mad Men themed party.
Salads have come a long way since the high-heeled, apron-swathed June Cleaver and Donna Reed filled their Corell dinnerware bowls with salads encased with gelatin.
In most supermarkets, bags and boxes of pre-mixed salad greens occupy a large space in the produce section.
While the pre-bagged greens are a convenient option, before you stockpile your cart with these consider:
- the expiration date
- peer through the container to see if tender greens have begun to wilt
- conventional salad greens contain residues of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
- some manufacturers of conventional salad greens wash the lettuces with a chlorine mixture
- eat the salad greens that are in season. This, of course, depends on your growing zone.
Check your local farmers’ market for fresh salad greens before you settle for pre-packaged.
To avoid salad monotony, try using a different variety or combination of salad greens each week.
Pile on the Protein
This is important. Layer your salad with protein. Here are a few ideas:
- thin slices of grilled steak, chicken, or pork
- ground meat
- BPA-free canned tuna and salmon
- freshly grilled, blackened, sauteed sustainably-caught fish
- hard-boiled eggs
Add the Rainbow
Here’s where you add vegetables to your bowl of greens. There are a few ways to approach this step.
Color and texture
Think of the bowl as your canvas and the veggies as your paint. It’s easy to add texture by spiralizing, chopping, slicing, and cubing.
Themed salads are always fun and popular. If you decide to serve salad based on a theme, there are certain vegetables that fit well within that theme. For example, a Mediterranean salad could include olives, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, feta, and so much more.
Add Crunch to Your Salad Bowl
You have my permission to go nuts, as long as you use the healthiest version of crunch. Raw nuts, seeds, and no-sugar-added dried fruit deliver chewiness and crunch.
Before you toss in the crunch, read the label to avoid suspicious ingredients. Avoid nuts roasted in soybean, corn, and vegetable oil.
Drizzle Your Dressing With Care
An unhealthy dressing can derail your attempt at creating a wholesome bowl of salad. Most of the pre-made dressings contain sugar, chemical emulsifiers, artificial colors, and unsavory oils.
Housemade dressings are a cinch to make. A versatile dressing made with high-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar can dress up most salads.
Store-bought dressings like Tessamaes and Primal Kitchen offer convenience without compromising the quality of the product.
Let’s talk about croutons
The best croutons are housemade with sourdough or artisan bread. Store-bought croutons are usually full of preservatives.
- 1 Tsp olive oil
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Tsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 Tsp of freshly grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 Tsp salt
- 2 cups of any mixed greens
- 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup of housemade roasted pecans (see instructions)
- In a skillet, add oil then ground turkey. Cook until browned. Add lime juice, tahini, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and salt.
- Combine, cook, remove from heat.
- Assemble the mixed greens, peppers, butternut squash, and parsley. Sprinkle the pecans over the greens.
- Add housemade dressing.
- Roasted Pecans:
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Mix pecans with olive oil. Spread oiled pecans on sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes. Let cool.
Every Tuesday on Instagram, I will host #TuesdayToss, a weekly salad recipe. Connect with me on Instagram to see the weekly salad feature.