Even if you haven't made a resolution to eat more vegetables this year, let's all make a resolution to make our salads more satisfying. There's too much potential to be wasted on salads that leave us hungry after an hour and don't actually taste all that memorable. Here are the 10 ways I ensure my salads are a satisfying meal every time.
1. Season the greens.
I picked up this tip in culinary school and, despite my initial skepticism, I learned that it makes all the difference for a well-flavored salad. The purpose is not to make the ingredients taste salty; rather, a pinch of salt accentuates the natural flavor of the greens and other vegetables.
2. Mix fresh herbs with the greens.
This is my favorite way to use up the fresh herbs lingering in the fridge. When adding leafy greens to salad, think beyond lettuces, arugula, and kale to fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro, mint, and tarragon. A small handful of chopped herbs adds another dimension of flavor and gives salad a quick pop of freshness and makes it more interesting to eat.
Read more: 7 Tips for Making a Restaurant-Quality Salad
3. Start with seasonal ingredients.
My rule for making salad is to always start with what's in season and available right now. If it's winter, maybe that means shredded Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or winter squash. In summertime, I lean on zucchini, tomatoes, and fresh berries. In-season ingredients will always taste best and lead to a more fulfilling salad.
4. Look beyond leafy greens.
There's more to salad than leafy greens — especially when we're sitting smack-dab in the middle of winter. Keep things interesting by ditching the lettuce for other salad bases, like broccoli slaw, shredded kohlrabi or celery root, or winter squash.
Read more: 5 Reasons to Leave Lettuce out of Your Salad
5. Roast for the most.
Salad doesn't have to be a raw-veggies-only affair. Roasting not only opens the door for sturdy ingredients like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and rutabaga to make their way into your salad, but the deep roasted char also adds a new — and very welcome! — dimension to salad.
Get inspired: Brown Sugar-Coconut Glazed Rutabaga Salad
6. Remember the power of protein.
When making salad as a main meal, I believe it must always include at least one source of protein. It makes all the difference in building a satisfying and filling salad. Meat, fish, eggs, and tofu are always solid options, but also consider beans, nuts, and quinoa to give your salad a boost.
7. Add in some satisfying fats.
Don't fear the fat. Not only do ingredients like avocado, feta, goat cheese, and crispy bacon taste delicious, but these satisfying fats also make for a more satisfying salad that will keep you full.
8. Choose ingredients for texture.
When selecting ingredients for a salad, consider not just the flavor, but also the texture of each addition. A blend of crunchy (nuts and seeds), chewy (dried fruit), crispy (bell peppers or fennel), and soft (avocado or hard-boiled egg) foods make for a more balanced and ultimately more satisfying salad.
9. Balance the flavors of the ingredients.
Just as important as creating a varied blend of textures is building a salad with a balance of different flavors. Restaurants know how to nail this, and that's part of the reason why those salads taste so good. Use a variety of ingredients in the salad and dressing that bring together salty, sweet, acidic, and even bitter or spicy flavors.
Read more: 5 Steps to a More Satisfying Salad
10. Embrace warm salad dressing.
In my book, a satisfying salad isn't complete without a solid dressing. When you want to take this essential finishing touch above and beyond the basic call of duty, warm the dressing in the microwave before it hits the salad. Of course, some dressings work much better for this tip than others (anything creamy is a no-go), with vinaigrettes making the the best option — especially if you have roasted veggies in the salad mix.