How did we get to the point where eating a side salad is just an afterthought? Why is it just a way to get in our obligatory daily serving of greens? Salads have long been considered wimpy or rabbit food. We ‘punish ourselves’ by eating salads when we want to lose weight. We make memes about how horrible it is to eat lettuce. Salads have such a bad rap. How did we get here?
I think salads are amazing. They can even take center stage if you let them. All it takes is some basic knowledge, some simple skills, a shopping list and a bunch of homemade goodness. One of the best parts about salads is their versatility. There are so many types and everyone can pick and choose their favorites. Maybe you like yours simple — like a wedge of iceberg with blue cheese dressing. Maybe you like yours complicated — like arugula with roasted veggies and honey-dijon dressing. Or maybe you like yours sweet — like mixed greens with strawberries, pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. Whatever your taste, there is a salad for you. All you have to do is find it.
First, you need to choose your greens, then give them a good wash and spin. They must be dry or once you add dressing, they will get slimy. Kale and raddichio can be chopped with a knife, but other lettuces like green/red leaf, butter or romaine should be torn with your fingers. Make it bite size….there is nothing worse than trying to eat salad that is too big for your mouth. Bags of mixed greens or arugula can be eaten as is (but should still be washed and dried).
Second, add your veggies. The simplest salad for me is lettuce, carrots and tomato. But there are so many other veggies — roasted veggies — green beans — cucumbers — peppers — broccoli — zucchini — radish — asparagus — onion — beets — sundried tomatoes. You can even add fruit for a little sweetness or a protein like chicken, salmon, nuts or hard boiled egg. One of my favorite salads is a fall salad with roasted squash, greens, feta, pepitas, cranberries and pecans.
Put your greens and veggies in a large bowl because it’s time to make some dressing. Your dressing should compliment your salad/veggie combination. It can take time to perfect what works best for which combo, but there are lots of dressing & salad ideas out there if you need some inspiration. Another favorite of mine is mixed greens, beets, feta and walnuts with fig balsamic vinaigrette. The fig balsamic sweetness works so well with the earthy beets. But there are tons of ideas – just do a search!
I threw together a small salad today for lunch – nothing fancy, but it was still delicious because it was all homemade. Fresh dressing has so many advantages:
Making your own dressing is SOOOOOO EASY, but we tend to fall into the convenient category when it comes to salad making because salad is often an afterthought. But, to make your own, all you need is some good oil, like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil and an acid like vinegar or citrus juice. Salt and Pepper is essential and sometimes a little sweetness like maple syrup or honey. Here are a few very basic dressings you can whip up:
Maple – Balsamic Vinaigrette:
But today, I made a Lemon Basil Vinaigrette. I love putting fresh herbs on my salad:
There are so many bottled salad dressings at the grocery store that it is easy to just pick a jar for dinnertime. But, I promise you, a homemade salad dressing can be the difference between side dish and fresh delicious meal that the whole family raves about. That is ultimately the point, right?….making salad an enjoyable experience and not an obligatory side dish. Healthy is delicious too. All you have to do is open your eyes and mind to the options and put in the time and effort. Mmmmm
Happy Salad Making!