Croutons to Pine Nuts: 10 Favorite Salad Add-Ins

I have never liked salads. There, I said it! But that was before I discovered that there were dressings other than ranch and lettuces other than iceberg. It's really only been in the past few months that I discovered that salads can be flavorful, interesting, and most surprising to me, filling. Here are my ten favorite salad add-ins. What are yours?A good salad starts with a base of mixed greens. I love the pre-mixed bags at the grocery store for their variety and convenience. During the summer, I duplicate the same mixes with fresh greens at the farmers market.

For every salad I made, I usually pick three or four of the add-ins from this list. Fewer and the salad doesn't quite satisfy me for lunch. More and I find that the flavors get muddled.

1. Apples, Pears, and Grapes - Essentially, any fruit that's juicy and crunchy.
2. Leftover Pasta - Any pasta will do. I love the chewiness!
3. Chickpeas - Tender and nutty, I find that chickpeas also make salads more filling.
4. Nuts - Walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, or pecans - whatever I grab from the pantry!
5. Avocado - Avocado's mild sweetness is terrific with bitter greens.
6. Dried Fruit - Apricots and cranberries are my favorite.
7. Hardboiled Eggs - A little protein goes a long way to making salads more satisfying.
8. Toast - Rather than making croutons, I usually toast a piece of bread and tear it into chunks.
9. Cheese - I usually go for a fairly firm cheese like cubes of smoked gouda or curls of parmesan, but I also like tangy goat cheese and sharp feta.
10. Leftovers - My favorite add-in! A bit of last night's poached chicken or roasted cauliflower side dish are an excellent way to add interest to salads and use up small containers of leftovers.

What are your favorite add-ins to salads?

Related: How Dorie Greenspan Keeps Her Salad Greens Fresh

(Images: Roasted Beet Salad from Kasey of Turntable Kitchen and Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad from Faith Durand)

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