It’s hot and lately, my go-to meal has been some form of a salad. I posted a quinoa salad recipe on Friday and I have a Swiss chard salad coming your way this week that I can’t stop making.
But let’s face it, not everyone loves salads.
Many people, in fact, think salads are a waste of a meal. Rabbit food. Leaves with vegetables piled on top. What you pick at before the main meal shows up. A vessel for delicious toppings. A mere vehicle to shuttle dressing into your mouth without looking like a crazy person by drinking it straight from the bottle.
While I may or may not have believed the last two there for a good portion of my life (sorry not sorry), I have always liked salads. I’ve been a vegetable gal my whole life, even as a kid I was the odd two-year-old eating lettuce. And even though much of my life was spent drowning it in ranch dressing (Midwest pride yo) and covering it with shredded cheese and croutons, I have always gladly eaten my salad.
I’ve since stopped using an entire bottle of ranch dressing (although I still make ranch dressing) and I’ve switched to healthier toppings. I’ve also realized there are so many tasty ways you can jazz up a salad so it isn’t boring or remind you of rabbit food. Salads are just as unique as the person eating them and are a great quick meal when you want to get in some good nutrition.
So here are five ways that you can take your salad from boring starter to the star of your meal.
Add Fresh Herbs
Most people don’t think about adding herbs to their salad but this is an AWESOME way to add flavor and nutrition to your salad. Some of my favorite to toss in are basil, parsley, cilantro, and chives. You could try mint, lemon grass, sage, or even thyme or oregano. A little goes a long way with fresh herbs so try a handful at first and then add more or less based on your tastes.
Roast Some Of The Vegetables
Nothing says that a salad has to be entirely raw. While that is totally fine, adding roasted vegetables adds some different flavors and textures to the salad. Try roasting things like carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, or grape tomatoes. This can also help your salad feel more like a meal since some things are cooked.
Play With Textures
Most of the time, people just go with crunch when it comes to salad. Try adding creamy with cooked beans or hard boiled eggs. Cubed potatoes or avocados also add a soft, creamy texture. You can also up the crispy factor even more by making your own vegetable chips with things like carrots, zucchini, or beets.
Get Weird With Your Toppings
Who cares what you put on top of YOUR salad? Try some out of the box toppings like popcorn, puffed quinoa/millet, popped sorghum, pickles, strawberries, roasted corn, mangoes, cranberries, caramelized onions, roasted nuts or seeds…. you get the picture.
Switch Up Your Greens
I get it, romaine lettuce is cheap and easy to find and I actually really like it but it isn’t the only salad green out there. Try kale, spinach, arugula, mustard greens, bok choy, collard greens, endives, cabbage, beet greens, or even broccoli or celery leaves. These are all nutritional salad powerhouses and can add some variety and flavor to your salad.
Make Your Own Dressing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Make your own salad dressing people!! It is SO easy, SO much cheaper, and SO much healthier than store bought. You don’t have to get fancy either, you can mix a little lemon or lime juice with olive oil and use that as your dressing. You could even try a salad without dressing and use herbs and spices as your flavoring or go with a non-traditional “dressing” like pesto or BBQ sauce. Anything to avoid over-paying for a bottle of something that in the end isn’t all that good for you. I have plenty of dressing/sauce ideas here on the blog that you can try out:
Homemade Mayo (add your favorite salsa to this for a creamy dressing with a kick)
Infused Olive Oil (simple way to add dressing AND flavor)
I could go on and on with dressings, but you get the idea. DIY dressing = happy salad.
There you have it, five ways to up your salad game and start loving this healthy meal. Come back on Wednesday for a recipe for my new favorite Swiss chard salad plus a new avocado-based dressing!
Happy Monday Friends!