We've all encountered a wimpy bowl of greens with a few slices of cucumber and a piece of tomato, trying to pass as a salad, at some point or another. Forget satisfying — that's not even appetizing, and it gives salads everywhere a bad name.
A good salad is a wonderful and glorious thing. It has a place as an appetizer, side dish, go-to weekday lunch, and, when made right, it can even hold its own as dinner. The trick is knowing the essential steps for creating a salad that's supremely satisfying and far from wimpy.
5 Steps to a More Satisfying Salad
Building a salad that excites you is a whole lot easier than you might think. The key is to put a little thought into the ingredients that build your bowl and to add just a touch of pizzazz when you can.
1. Use fresh ingredients.
This seems obvious and should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Produce is the key ingredient here, so freshness makes a huge difference in putting together a great salad. Of course you'll end up with a sad salad if it's made with wilted greens and veggies that already have one foot out the door! Fresh, seasonal ingredients make salads more enjoyable.
2. Use ingredients that add different textures.
Texture, in my opinion, is what really makes a salad stand out. Salads with varied textures are rarely ever boring. Add nuts, seeds, or croutons to create crunch. Include something crisp and refreshing like radishes, cucumbers, peppers, or chunks of apple. Create chew with dried fruit or meat. And add soft ingredients, like avocado, egg, or cheese.
3. Create balanced flavors.
Balanced flavor is just as important as varied texture. Use varied ingredients and a well-seasoned dressing to create a blend of salty, sweet, acidic, and even bitter or spicy flavors.
4. Skip the greens.
When we think about salad, our minds usually jump straight to leafy greens — the mix of arugula, lettuce, and kale that make up the base of a salad. But that's just one way, not the only way, to make a salad. Instead of leafy greens, try using whole grains, chickpeas, lentils, or beans as the base of your salad.
5. Include protein to make salad more filling.
Yes, salads can be filling, and they can be a full meal. The key to this is making sure they're going to fill you up, and the best way to do that is by including a good dose of protein. Top your salad with chicken, steak, or tofu, or mix in a big scoop of quinoa, farro, or freekeh.
Salads to Get Excited About
What's your best advice for making a more satisfying salad? Do you have any favorite ingredients to make it stand out?