We're talking about lunch and salads this week and I thought can I possibly write another recipe for a salad? I search for a lot of recipes online, I have a huge cookbook library, and I subscribe to many food magazines, but unless it's a very esoteric, composed salad I had at a restaurant that I'm trying to emulate, salads are more of an ad-lib kind of thing in my kitchen.
Let's step back a second and look at what it means to "throw together a salad" and come up with a basic formula for those who like a script more than improv.
By the way, if the idea of a salad feels like a big scary blank canvas, or you're new to salads, our salad recipe archive is a great place to start perusing ideas. Then scan your kitchen for ingredients and get going. This is a great way to clean out the refrigerator.
One of my favorite sources for ingredients for a great mid-week healthy salad is leftovers. Today for lunch I'm taking apart the end of a roasted chicken and chopping it with kale, shredded carrots (that's the "crisp vegetables" in the formula), cooked beets, a few big pinches of nutritional yeast, and some of my favorite Eggless Caesar Dressing.
A word on dressing, which people chronically fear. Start simple: the 3:1 oil to acid ratio is a good jumping off point. That means whisk together 3 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Taste and move ahead with little adjustments. You can do this!
The Why You Don't Need a Recipe for a Salad Recipe
A handful of greens and/or crisp raw vegetables and/or cooked vegetables
1/2 cup cooked grains (brown rice, barley, quinoa, etc.)
1/4-1/2 cup cooked protein (chicken, steak, tofu, beans, etc.)
1/4 cup your favorite salad dressing
1-2 tablespoons extra flavor treats (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, nutritional yeast)
Salt and pepper, if needed
Toss or chop all the ingredients together and toss with dressing. How easy was that?
More Salad Resources:
→ Salad Swag: Three Cures for the Common Salad
Essential Salad Dressings:
Like the look of those salads above? Here they are!
(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong; Emma Christensen, Faith Durand, Anjali Prasertong; Sara Kate Gillingham)