I’m not gonna lie to you. I would give up a salad for a burger any day. However, there are times when a nice, big, hearty salad is my absolute favorite meal. Making a good dinner salad could be as simple as throwing some veggies on lettuce. In our house, salad night is often more complicated than normal dinners, involving homemade dressing, cooking up some bacon, and slicing and dicing several veggies and cheeses. I need to find a happy medium!
Cooking Light has put together a list of 7 Helpful Tips to help you put together a great salad that is worthy of serving to your guests… or even being your own favorite recipe!
1. Start with 2 cups of SHREDDED LETTUCE. My favorite lettuce to use for my own salads is the Baby Lettuce Mix or Butter Lettuce Mix from Trader Joe’s. I love the texture of the soft lettuce leaves and the amount of essential nutrients found in these types of lettuce is ridiculous! Arrange leaves or shredded lettuce on the plate.
2. Add 3 oz of PROTEIN per plate. You can do grilled BBQ, Asian, or Cajun chicken, chilled shrimp, marinated salmon, or really anything for this! Dave’s favorite salad ever includes just a simple scoop of Tuna Salad mixed with hot sauce. It sounded weird to me at first, but it works really well! Place the protein on top of the salad greens.
3. Add 1 cup of VEGGIES and/or FRUIT per person. As much as I claim to like “everything” in the world of food… something I do not like is salad veggies. I prefer my veggies cooked, and raw veggies in a salad usually doesn’t do it for me. The only two salad veggies I can really stand are thinly sliced Cucumber and Carrots. After 25 years of HATING tomatoes, I finally eat those, so a nice handful of Grape Tomatoes usually makes my cut… but then again that’s a fruit. I love using fresh Blueberries or Strawberries. Use a variety of Fruit & Veggies and sprinkle on top of the protein around the greens.
4. Give it some CrUnCh (2 Tablespoons)!! Croutons are so last year. Unless of course they’re homemade, but that’s another story. I LOVE to crunchify my salad with toasted nuts. You can buy silvered almonds, candied or spiced pecans at Trader Joe’s or really at any grocery store. A Mexican themed salad could use tortilla strips while an Asian themed salad could use chow mein noodles. Dot your crunch all around the plate.
5. Get Cheesey (1 oz). With the exception of my “no cheese January”, I almost always have just a sprinkle of cheese on my salads. I have mentioned before, that I LOVE blue cheese. If you’re making a salad with fruit or some kind of sweet dressing, the tang of blue cheese will go perfectly. Try goat cheese too! Sprinkle the cheese over the plates.
6. Drizzle the dressing (2-3 Tablespoons). As for bottled dressing, always read the labels. Besides most of them being fattening, most of them are very high in sodium. My favorite bottled dressing is Ken’s Light Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy. It is low in fat but not sodium. Recently, I have been using just a spray of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. You can even find flavored vinegar to make things interesting. Evenly drizzle the dressing over each salad.
7. Add the Seasoning. A step I normally forget when I’m at home but NEVER forget at a restaurant with fresh ground black pepper served by the waiter. MMM! I will have to remember this part when making my own salads from now on.
For now, here is a recipe for a random salad night at my house. I called it the “mish-mosh” Salad.