How to Make a Tasty Salad – A Formula

I love making salads.  To me, the key to making a tasty and satisfying salad is to have lots of different colors, textures and flavors.  To see how I achieve that, below I will share my basic formula.

Base of greens: My two favorite are romaine lettuce (I love the crunch!) and spring mix (love the color and variety of flavors).  You can use whatever you like best; the options are endless!  Kale, green leaf or red leaf lettuce, boston lettuce, spinach, arugula… you choose!

Veggies:  I usually choose at least 2, if not 3, vegetables to chop and add.  I like to chop them bite size – big enough for texture but small enough that you can get a few pieces in each bite.  Halved grape tomatoes, seeded and diced bell peppers and chopped cucumbers are my typical choices.  You could also add mushrooms, radishes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.

Fruit: I usually use golden raisins in my salads.  They add a very sweet, chewy texture that I love.  Depending on the season, I also enjoy adding blueberries, strawberries, pears, apples and grapes.  Whatever you choose, fruit in salad is non-negotiable for me.  I love the sweet flavor it adds!  

Nuts, seeds and/or cheese:  Despite adding healthy fats to increase absorption of fat soluble vitamins found in your fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds add great crunch and rich flavor.  Costco has been selling raw pumpkin seeds and has become my favorite addition, but walnuts are close behind them.  You could also use sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews…up to you!  I also often add feta cheese if I have it on hand!

Dressing:  I make my own dressing, typically a vinaigrette.  I like adding mustard to the mixture to add some thickness and maple syrup for sweetness.  The result tastes rich and silky and coats each component of the salad.  I’ll share my favorite vinaigrette below:

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in sealable glass container and mix well.  Store covered and refrigerated.  Shake/stir before using.  

Now, if it’s a side dish, I will stop there.  If I want to make it a meal, I will add beans, lentils, quinoa, slice of whole grain toast, hard boiled eggs, feta, parmesan or cheddar cheese, chicken… some sort of protein and carbohydrate.  

Happy salad making!

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD