5 Steps To An Absolutely Epic Salad

Salads are all that is good and delicious in this world!

April 19, 2017
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Adapted from Love Real Food

Salads made with fresh greens, loads of veggies, whole grains, and freshly toasted nuts are all that is good and delicious in this world! They qualify as a full meal and allow me to chomp on a big bowl of food with no ill side effects.

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Salads have come a long way from a side dish of lettuce greens. My salads have grown to cover my entire plate, and my appreciation for salads has transformed into an epic love affair. I’ve offered a variety of simple side salad suggestions and salad dressings to help you improvise and expand your salad repertoire.

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Choose A Theme

Even if you want to throw together a salad with what you have on hand, a theme helps narrow down your options. 

You could highlight a couple of your favorite in-season ingredients, like peaches and blackberries during the summer.

Maybe you’re craving a fresh take on your favorite dish (how about tacos in salad form?), or you want to re-create a salad that you enjoyed at a restaurant.

If you’re making side salads, look to your main dish for direction. Extra tomatoes? Use those!

Related: The Dirtiest Produce in Your Supermarket Revealed

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Choose Your Greens Carefully

Start with fresh, preferably organic greens, and make sure they’re dry before you add dressing. Water repels oil, so you won’t get a light and even coat of dressing on damp produce.

Kale is the sturdiest option in the bunch, and it can hold up to dressing for a few days in the refrigerator. Since it is so sturdy and bitter, briefly massage before dressing (more on that later).

Arugula is next, but is best consumed within a day or two in its dressed form; store the greens and dressing separately to be on the safe side. If you don’t appreciate arugula’s bold, peppery, bitter flavor, replace it with your favorite greens.

The rest (romaine, spinach, red-leaf, butter lettuce, and more) are all fantastic options, but be sure to store leftover greens and dressing separately and toss just before serving.

Related: 6 Simple Guidelines For Eating Clearly

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Optional: Add Some Hearty Ingredients For A Satisfying, Full Meal

Look to your theme to help you pick out harmonious flavors and textures.

Consider leftover cooked whole grains; my favorites are farro, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, and small pasta shapes.

Cooked beans are good, too; chickpeas and black beans often work well, depending on the other flavors.

Cruciferous vegetables add crunchy substance and mega antioxidants. Think thinly sliced cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

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Add Complementary Accents

Start with veggies, fruits, and/or tender, leafy herbs that work with your salad’s theme.

Put some thought into how you prepare your produce. Contrasting textures make salads more interesting. Caramelized roasted vegetables are always amazing, sometimes carrot ribbons are more fun than chopped, and 1⁄2-inch cubes of apple offer more flavor and texture than thinly sliced.

You can never go wrong with some sliced or diced avocado, and/or some shredded or crumbled cheese (I love goat cheese, feta, and Parmesan in salads).

Dried fruit (chopped if large) and sun-dried tomatoes are awesome.

Freshly toasted nuts or seeds offer lots of flavor and a big nutrition boost. Other crispy, crunchy add-ins include homemade whole-grain croutons, crispy tortilla strips, torn pieces of toasted pita, toasted large coconut flakes, and even granola.

Related: 30 Cleansing Foods To Naturally Detox Your Body

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Dress It Up

Store-bought dressings won’t do your salad justice, so opt for homemade dressing options, so you can always keep one in the refrigerator. 

The article 5 Steps to an Absolutely Epic Salad originally appeared on Rodale Wellness.

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