Can we talk about how salads can be the best but also the worst?
They are the best when you find a recipe you love, have everything on hand, have time to prep the ingredients, and get to enjoy a delicious and nutritious salad. They are the worst when you end up with produce that goes bad, dressing that disappoints, and special ingredients that only get used once.
Today I want to share with you some of my secrets for creating stellar salads without going to a ton of trouble. These tips are intended to streamline the salad-making process and set you up for success, being able to throw together a winning salad at any given moment.
If you are using lettuce as a salad base (as opposed to spinach, arugula, or field greens) then you know how frustrating it can be to watch that head of Romaine slowly die in the produce drawer. Here’s the trick. Bring your lettuce home from the store, wash it (if you want to, no judgement if you don’t), dry it, and then roll it (not chopped) in long sheets of paper towels, forming a lettuce-paper-towel burrito. Store the lettuce burrito in a gallon zip bag, squeezing all of the air out. Your lettuce will stay fresh all week, and you can use it leaf by leaf.
If you regularly use the same ingredients in your salad, chop them and store them for the week. Specifically, this works well for cucumber, bell peppers, carrots, green onions, and raw broccoli. Chop what you have and store each ingredient in their own container (either a zip-bag or plastic deli container). They will last for up to a week and provide you with fresh ingredients ready to toss into your salad.
Try Fresh Herbs.
There is nothing that can wake up a tired salad more than fresh herbs. Choose anything! Specifically, mint, basil, and parsley (a great place to start if you’re new to herbs in salad) are my favorites. They pack a flavor punch and will bring a jolt of fresh flavor to whatever you are tossing together.
Think Outside The Box.
I can’t tell you how many salads I have created from whatever leftovers we have hanging around. Don’t just limit your ingredient list to the same basic cast of characters. Roasted vegetables, grilled zucchini, baked sweet potato, any grilled meat, dips, slaws, chicken salad, cubed up pieces of cheese, taco toppings, broken up chunks of leftover hamburger patties, cubes of roasted potatoes. LITERALLY anything can be made into a salad. Give me a bed of greens and a fridge full of leftovers, and I will show you tomorrow’s salad lunch!
Get Creative When It Comes To Dressing Your Salad.
In the same vein as above, I love to find some sort of saucy element and turn it into my dressing. Hummus, tzatziki, onion dip, salsa, the juice in the bottom of the pan from the baked lemon chicken, BBQ sauce. All of these are full of flavor, and it only takes a drizzle to get the salad elements working together.
Make It Last All Afternoon.
If you are regularly eating salads for lunch, but find you are hungry before dinner, my experience tells me you need to add fat and good carbs. I add half of an avocado to almost every salad I eat. And if the only vegetable you are using are lettuce or spinach, you need to add other vegetables or a fruit to provide carbs. Lettuce and chicken will not sustain your body. You need fat and you need carbs. Once you have the right balance, a good salad will stave off hunger all afternoon.
The Best Store Bought Dressing.
I know I am currently trying to convince you to make homemade salad dressing, but I also live in the real world and realize that isn’t always possible. If you need or want to buy bottled dressing, stick with Brianna’s. This is the closest I have found to homemade. Bonus tip: The picture on the front of the bottle is not what the dressing tastes like. It’s what the dressing will pair well with. Isn’t that fun?
There you have it! My seven secrets for better salads. What’s your favorite combo?