I like big salads and I cannot lie. Like, seriously. The bigger the salad, the happier I am.
And I’m not talking boring old salads. I like to dress those things up. Salads are an excellent way to fill up with a ton of veggies and they are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I know, I’ve had one for each meal.
Most people think “boring” when they hear salad OR they think, “Oh, you mean a cheese and ranch dressing vessel?” I’ve never been on the boring boat but I have definitely been on the cheese and ranch dressing boat.
I used to be the captain of that boat. And it sailed over many a meal as a child/teenager/college student. Of course, I’ve sadly learned that just because I put ALL THE THINGS on a salad doesn’t mean it’s a healthy meal because there is a meager portion of green leaves under the pile.
I’ve changed my salad tactics over the years and right now I’m in love with roasted vegetables over cold crispy romaine, cloves of heavenly roasted garlic, sprinkled with my nut parmesan topping and drizzled with homemade dressing, lately cashew sour cream with chives.
So. Yum. Trust me.
If you’re still doubting that a salad can be anything but boring or senseless, I’ve got some ideas for you as well as the recipe for the Italian roasted garlic. Roasted garlic might not be a typical salad topper, but I love the flavor and soft texture it adds. It’s a nice balance to the crunch of lettuce and the creamy of the dressing.
Now, let’s make a tasty salad.
There are dozens of greens you can use and it all depends on your tastes that day. You can go as plain as iceberg or as fancy as rocket greens or even microgreens.
- Iceberg lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Dandelion greens
- Cabbage, any variety
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Beet greens
- Mustard greens
- Kale, any variety
- Swiss Chard
- Pretty much anything that is leafy and plant-like 🙂
Toppings Part 1
There are two kinds of toppings, the substance toppings that is the heart of the salad and the finishing touches that add extra flavor. Get creative and you’ll never have a boring salad. Here are some of my favorites.
- Roasted broccoli
- Roasted or steamed sweet potatoes
- Carrots, raw or roasted
- Roasted cauliflower
- Balsamic Cauliflower Bites
- Any type of cooked grain (if you do grains)
- Taco filling
- Any variety of meat, shredded or cubed (and cooked of course)
- Roasted parsnips or turnips
- Any type of winter squash, roasted obviously
Toppings Part 2
These are the little things that add a TON of flavor for don’t skip them!
- “Parmesan” topping
- Nuts or seeds, raw or dry-roasted
- Dried cranberries (no sugar added please!)
- Fresh fruit (cherries, strawberries, apples, pears….)
- Popcorn (it’s not weird YOU’RE weird. Ok, I’m weird but just try it before you knock it)
- Roasted chickpeas
- Quality cheese, if you do dairy
- Caramelized Onions
- Italian Roasted Garlic (recipe below)
- Coconut Chips
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes
I know it’s tempting to drown your salad in dressing because it’s just so darn tasty, but try to use it sparingly. A few tablespoons should be enough. And by a few, I mean three max.
- Basil Hummus Dressing
- Infused Olive Oil
- Dairy-free Ranch Dressing
- Roasted Salsa Verde
- Broccoli Rabe Pesto
- Basil Salad Dressing
- Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette
- Baba Ganoush
Italian Roasted Garlic Cloves- A tasty twist on regular roasted garlic
- 2 heads garlic
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- olive oil to coat
- Preheat the oven to 400. Find a smallish glass dish that is oven-safe.
- Peel all of the garlic cloves so you have individual cloves. Yes, this is slightly time-consuming but this is the most “difficult” part of the recipe.
- Place all the cloves in the glass dish and toss with olive oil, enough that all cloves are coated. Add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half the lemon zest. Toss again so everything is coated.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast for 20 to 30 minutes. Check every so often so the cloves don’t start burning.
- Once the cloves are slightly brown and nice and soft, remove from the oven and let them cool. After their cool, store them in a jar or container and cover with olive oil so they don’t dry out and keep them in the fridge. PRO TIP: Pull the jar out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you want to use them AND save the olive oil leftover as a dressing once all the cloves are gone 🙂