Salads are many things – easy to throw together, a quick way to get some vegetables into your diet, something you have to eat to stay healthy. But, salads can also be really exciting and flavorful, and even something you may begin to want to eat instead of something you have to. The following tips will ensure you are making delicious and enticing salads that you will actually enjoy.
Tip 1: Prep ahead
One of the most daunting parts of making a salad is the rinsing and chopping of everything. One way to take that out of the equation is to rinse and dry everything right after you get it from the grocery store. Instead of unpacking items and putting them directly in your fridge, rinse them with cool water and allow them to dry thoroughly on a paper towel. For lettuces and herbs, a salad spinner works great here. However, we don’t recommend pre-chopping your vegetables, because they will spoil much more quickly. Simply re-pack your dry vegetables with a dry paper towel in a resealable plastic bag, or plastic wrap.
Tip 2: Choose your base wisely
The base for a salad sets the tone for the whole meal. Season loves to do a mixture of a crunchy lettuce and a leafy lettuce to get different textures and flavors involved. For some crunch, we throw in sliced romaine, iceberg lettuce, or even super thinly sliced cabbage or Brussels sprouts. For the leafy greens, we love arugula and baby spinach because they’re no-prep; but red leaf lettuce, endive, butter lettuce, and kale work great. You can also mix in a grain like brown rice or quinoa for extra fiber and protein.
Tip 3: Get creative with your vegetables
This is where your salad claims its flavor profile. Choose vegetables that excite you and make the salad make sense. For example, if you’re going for an Italian vibe – you may choose tomatoes, peppers, frozen artichoke hearts, and olives. Or for an Asian salad – you could try frozen edamame, carrots, and bok choy.
Our other secret for vegetables is changing up cooking techniques. We love to leave some vegetables raw while roasting others. Roasting vegetables at a high temperature in the oven with a bit of olive oil and salt helps to soften them and bring out their natural sweetness. We like roasting cherry tomatoes and onions and keeping them in the fridge to toss into an otherwise-basic salad. It immediately makes it feel more special and exciting.
Different colored vegetables provide different nutrients – the more colorful, the better! Colorful vegetables have phytonutrients, which are compounds that give plants their rich colors as well as their distinctive tastes and smells. And when we eat them, some phytonutrients are shown to have anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. For your next salad, try roasting a blue potato or sweet potato instead of a white potato and boost up the nutrients in your diet!
Tip 4: Take care with your dressing
We are big on vinaigrettes. Don’t get us wrong, creamy dressings certainly hit the spot from time to time, but vinaigrettes are completely customizable and simple to make. We use a 1:2 ratio – 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil. From there, you can add in whatever you choose; garlic, shallot, spices, dijon mustard, and even a small squeeze of honey are great additions. We keep all types of vinegars in our pantry so that when the mood strikes for a salad, we can make a delicious dressing on the fly.
Another tip for dressing your salad is to ensure that your ingredients are completely dry before dressing them – vinaigrette won’t cling to a soggy salad (oil + water don’t mix!).
Tip 5: Make it satisfying
If you made it this far, we’re sure that your salad will taste amazing, but will it keep you satisfied? That’s when you should think about including protein. For a really simple fix, drain and rinse canned beans and add them to your salad. For another plant based option, slice fresh avocado. It adds a satisfying and creamy component to your salad. If you have leftover animal protein in your fridge like chicken or fish, feel free to use it up! It’s also easy enough to add some hard boiled eggs with a crack of black pepper.
The best salads are ones where every bite is different and provides different colors, textures, flavors, and even temperatures (salads don’t have to be cold!). Try out some of our tips, and you will have no issues getting greens into your diet.