Five Tips for Happier Salads

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Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You have a fantastic salad at a restaurant or you see a gorgeous big bowl of greens on Instagram and set out determined to make a big delicious salad for yourself. You get everything together, sit down to take a bite and are very disappointed. For whatever reason, you’re version just isn’t the same leaving you with a big salad let down.

Sound familiar?

Don’t worry it’s not your fault! For something that can be so simple, making a good salad actually takes a bit of nuance. But once you figure that out, you’ll never be let down by a salad again!

Below are my five TOP tips for making happier salads. These tips are super easy to implement but have big impact.

Tips for Happier Salads

Reconsider Your Greens

Probably the easiest way to make your salad a little happier is to swap out the same old Iceberg or Romaine lettuce for something a little more exciting. Don’t forget that all greens are different, too and therefore have different flavors that pair better with other ingredients. Or, you can skip the greens all together and use other vegetables or grains as a base!

Texture. Texture. Texture

What’s worse than biting into a forkful of your salad and getting a whole lot of sameness. Not much if you ask me! The key to a great salad isn’t just the flavors but also the textures you get in each bite. Crunchy, crisp, creamy, I always look to add at least 1-2 different ingredients that balance each other out.

Here are some of my favorite ways to add texture:

  • Nuts & seeds

  • Avocado

  • Homemade bread crumbs

  • Creamy cheeses (burrata is a favorite!)

  • Cooked grains (or try toasted dry quinoa!)

  • Roasted vegetables

  • Hard or soft boiled eggs

  • BACON

Balance The Flavors

Like any good dish, salads benefit from a good balance of the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (savory). Here are a favorite of my add-ins for each of these tastes:

Salty

  • Cheeses

  • Cured meats

  • Toasted & lightly salted nuts or seeds

  • Dried seaweed

Sweet

  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

  • Honey almonds or other lightly sweetened nuts

  • Aged vinegars

Sour

  • Citrus fruit

  • Yogurt (in the dressing)

  • Fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi

  • Pickled vegetables or onions

Bitter

  • Sprouts

  • Greens such as kale or dandelion

  • Citrus zest

  • Herbs

Umami

  • Aged cheeses (parmesan, comte, gouda)

  • Mushrooms

  • Grilled meats & seafood


Dress it Up

Although there are now several brands of shelf stable, real food salad dressings, I still prefer to make my own as it’s cheaper and incredibly easy! Here are a few of my favorite types:

Vinaigrette: For the most basic vinaigrette add 1 part acid (lemon juice, vinegar) with 3 parts oil. Add in some salt, pepper and any herbs you want to use. I like adding a little bit of Dijon mustard to help the oil & acid emulsify and sometimes I put in a bit of honey to balance out the tart acid flavors.

Creamy: Make a quick and creamy dressing by thinning out some yogurt with an acid (I like using lemon juice) and adding whichever herbs and spices you’d like! Don’t do dairy? Try blending some very ripe avocado with a very small amount of water and lemon juice for a healthy fat filled dressing.

Massaged Salad: Using a green like kale means you’ll need to a little massaging to break down the tough fibers. To do this, simply shake some vinegar or lemon juice on top of the prepped greens and massage with your hands. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before adding some oil, salt and seasonings.

Make it Pretty

While I don’t believe we should be fussing for hours over how our home cooked meals look, it is true that we eat with our eyes first. Take an extra moment to arrange your salad on a platter or in a big bowl. For heartier salads, try tossing the ingredients together with tongs. Leave more delicate salads with the ingredients arranged right on top until serving.

Also, it can be helpful to dress your salad after plating as dressing the entire salad may leave you with soggy greens if there are leftovers!

The Bibb Lettuce Salad with Dill Vinaigrette is a simple salad perfect for brunch or a casual dinner during the week.

The Bibb Lettuce Salad with Dill Vinaigrette is a simple salad perfect for brunch or a casual dinner during the week.

Crunchy and crisp: the Spring Sourdough Panzanella is a seasonal twist on a classic.

Crunchy and crisp: the Spring Sourdough Panzanella is a seasonal twist on a classic.

Try it for Yourself!

Now that you are armed with these tips, here are some of my favorite salads to help guide you to making the perfect plate.

Grilled Peach Salad with Basil, Burrata & Prosciutto

Pesto Romano Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

Bibb Lettuce Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Spring Sourdough Panzanella

Asian Pear, Beet & Kale Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

I hope these tips and recipes help lead you to salad happiness and don’t forget to tag me on social media #wellnessbykristen with your creations!

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