Never eat a boring salad again! Try these 5 pro tips for how to make a salad that is exciting, tasty, and extra satisfying. Whether you're making a green salad as a side or a grain salad that's perfect for dinner, these tips will help you make a delicious salad that is nutritious and packed with flavor.
If you've read my book or have been around this site for any amount of time, you know how excited I get about a good salad that is packed with nutrition and flavor.
Are there rules for how to make a good salad? Not really. But you can consider this a simple guide to help you take your salad game to new heights and even turn salad into dinner whenever you don't feel like cooking.
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5 Tips for How to Make a Good Salad
Here are a few ways to make a salad that is satisfying, exciting, and dare I say, far better than a restaurant-fancy salad. Try these tips and you'll never have a boring salad again:
1: Think Beyond Lettuce and Greens
I do have my go-to lettuce salads like this Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad and this Greek lettuce salad with a good bit of feta cheese. But the salad world is so much more than lettuce! Think about adding vegetables and fruit of different colors and textures to give your salad some crunch and pack it with nutrition and flavor.
I love using everything from juicy tomatoes and cucumbers to celery and carrots, to grilled vegetables like grilled corn on the cob or grilled zucchini. And sometimes adding fruit is the way to go, like tart-sweet Granny Smith apples in a cabbage salad and citrus in beet salad with arugula. Heck, fruit can be the star, like in this watermelon salad.
2: Add Heft with Grains and Nuts
A sure way to give your salad heft and make it even more texturally pleasing and satisfying is by adding grains and nuts. And it's also a good way to pack your salad with fiber and minerals.
Nuts are another go-to for elevating the salad even a few notches more. A handful of toasted almonds or omega 3-rich walnuts will make a simple salad more nutritious, filling, and texturally satisfying.
This farro salad is a perfect example of a hearty grain salad that is a meal in its own right. All thanks to the layers of veggies and nuts!
3: Add Beans or Other Proteins
Beans and legumes are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, and thankfully, they are some of the cheapest and most convenient pantry ingredients out there. And when all else fails, a protein-packed bean salad can easily be what's for dinner.
Make beans the star in a simple chickpea salad or mix beans with another protein for an extra satisfying Mediterranean-style salad, like this white bean and sardine salad.
Another fast way to turn a simple green salad is by adding your favorite protein on top. This Greek grilled chicken salad is a good example.
4: Make Your Own Homemade Salad Dressing
Save yourself the expense of store-bought salad dressings all while using higher quality ingredients with fewer preservatives. Plus, you can make your own salad dressing at home in less than five minutes!
Homemade salad dressing with citrus or vinegar and quality extra virgin olive oil as your base is a sure way to elevate your salad and give it that high-end restaurant finish.
Add fresh garlic or seasoning of your choice and whisk until well-emulsified. If you're not sure where to start, try one of these Mediterranean salad dressings:
- Ladolemono (Lemony Greek Dressing)
- Dijon Vinaigrette
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Green Goddess Dressing (for something extra herby)
- Creamy Feta Dressing
5: Make it a Flavor Party
Whether you make a green salad with mostly veggies and greens or a dinner salad that's hefty with grains and legumes, salad dressing is not the only way to add flavor. Here are three more ways to pack your salad with flavor:
- Fresh herbs! I joke about how my friends call me the parsley queen. I buy and use more herbs than most people, and I think adding a good handful of fresh herbs to your salad is always a good thing.
- Marinated vegetables, cheese, and other Mediterranean flavor makers. Dig in your fridge or pantry for things like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, pickled vegetables, or marinated vegetables like these easy-to-make marinated mushrooms. Add a handful of crumbled feta or a few shavings of nutty Pecorino Romano. I never mind a little something to amp up the flavor, and when I'm feeling indulgent, I just turn my antipasti into a salad.
- Season. Season. Season! If nothing else, remember to taste your salad once you dress it and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Often, a salad that seems lacking can be easily improved with a pinch more salt or a dash of spicy Aleppo pepper, sumac, and maybe a splash more citrus!
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