Salads are great this time of year for a number of reasons: most produce is in season, they help bring more vegetables into your diet and they keep you from slaving over a stove when that is the last thing we want to do as the weather warms up. Salads can be the perfect choice for lunch or dinner. They are quick to throw together and great for transporting but it’s easy to get into a salad rut. If the idea of eating salads makes you start yawning, it’s time to perk up your salads with some color, texture and taste.
It is important to remember salad is a blank slate for ingredients and flavors. Ingredients can be as simple or as exotic as you want and they can serve as a light or substantial meal. So if your usual salads have you craving something more, read on to learn how to make learn how to make your salads exciting, satisfying and delicious.
Change Up Your Greens
Most people start their salads with a bed of greens, so it is important to remember to mix it up with some spinach, a spring mix, arugula and not just gravitate to romaine. There are so many different types of lettuces: escarole, frisee, bibb, radicchio and mesclun. Or you can skip lettuce and opt for other greens such as endive, kale, watercress or cabbage. There are so many choices, try a combination of two or three for a mix of tastes and textures.
Sprinkle On Something Sweet
The beauty of salad is that a little sweetness goes a long way, so you can get a nice sweet flavor without dumping on a huge pile of sugar. Some sweet additions we love are dried fruits (raisins or craisins) or fresh fruits such as apple slices, berries, citrus, peaches or pears.
Add Some Crunch
Salads taste better when they have different textures. You can add crunch and protein by adding seeds and nuts. Some other crunchy topping suggestions include sesame, pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds or pistachios, walnuts, pecans or almonds.
Go With Grains
Who says a salad has to have greens? Grains makes salads more filling and add many nutrients including protein. Quinoa, barley and buckwheat all contain a lot of protein. We love this Quinoa Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Walnuts and Gouda from Fine Cooking.
Speaking of Protein
Grains and chicken or fish aren’t the only ways to add protein to salads to make them more of a well-balanced, filling meal. We love adding beans and legumes to salads. Lentils and chickpeas can be a great addition to a salad or serve as the base. This is a protein packed salad that contains many healthy fats, Avocado and Shrimp Chopped Salad.
Dress It Up
Different dressing can completely change the taste of a salad. Be sure to indulge in healthy dressings since many fool you into thinking you’re having a healthy meal but sneak in sugars and unwanted calories. Provide some healthy examples other than the traditional oil and vinegar. Secret Ingredient is a big fan of the creamy tarragon dressing that is used in this Salmon Salad from the United States Personal Chef Association.
Warm It Up
Adding one or two warm elements to a salad can change the whole flavor profile. The traditional warm enhancements are proteins such as chicken, steak or shrimp. Try butternut squash, cauliflower and other cooked vegetables. Warm up your dressing before adding it to your salad, it will wilt your greens and change things up.
Secret Ingredient Can Help
We hope this has inspired you to get creative with your salads this summer. Salads don’t have to be boring. If you are still lacking motivation, contact Secret Ingredient and let us create delicious salads and other healthy, flavorful meals for you. We are sure to get you out of any rut!