Salad 'crunch' is a non-negotiable in our house, whether it's an average bowl of greens or a seasonal pasta or grain salad. I'm always looking for an interesting ingredient to toss into our salads to give them texture and to amp up their flavor. Bacon bits or croutons are an easy and obvious choice, but there's a whole other world of nuts, seeds and crisps you can also reach for!
When I was growing up, salad was regularly the vegetable side dish of choice. My mother would put me to work tearing up iceberg lettuce and grating in carrots, and sometimes we'd throw in some cherry tomatoes or sliced cucumber. I loathed this dinner chore — partly because of the tedium of tearing up lettuce and patting it dry, but also because the eating of this salad also felt like chore. It was the vegetable you had to munch through before getting to the good part of dinner. Can you relate?
Now that summer is 100% here and the temperature is creeping ever upwards, I'm putting a lot of make-ahead pasta and grain salads on the menu. This colorful salad is an oldie but goodie, and a variation of another favorite of mine, my Roasted Beet and Barley Salad. I love the bright pops of golden beets and red onions mixed in with the barley and wilted chard stems. It's all tied together with a quick lemony dressing and topped with a sprinkle of salty feta.
The first time I discovered ramen noodle salad was a culinary revelation. (Yes, those 99-cent ramen noodles.) It was sweet, tangy, and crunchy all at the same time, and it was a far cry from the creamy Southern slaws of my youth. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Q: I usually eat a salad with a bit of protein each day. I like the idea of salads because I get 3-4 servings of veggies in one meal, but I'm growing a little tired or munching on spinach and greens each day. What are some recipes that contain lots of veggies, but aren't necessarily a traditional salad?
If you're just craving a classic Caesar, here's a clean, refreshing style of Caesar dressing without egg, so it emphasizes the garlic, anchovy and lemon instead of hiding them behind a mayonnaise mask. Make a batch and keep it for a week's worth of homemade dressing. Leave the cheese out for a great meat marinade.
Forget the bottled stuff. Homemade ranch dressing is one of the most refreshing ways to dress a salad, especially in the summertime. A touch of cool, creamy buttermilk ranch, speckled with fresh herbs, drizzled over fresh greens? Heavenly. And making ranch dressing is literally a 2-minute affair. But first, we need to talk about mayonnaise.