8 Ways To Prep Your Salad, So You’ll Actually Want To Eat It
Salad doesn’t always have a reputation as being an exciting main and truth be told, it’s because it can often be boring (cue in romaine lettuce, cucumber and tomato on repeat). But not anymore!
Stop having boring salads
With a little bit of creativity, the possibilities truly are endless for making delicious salads. I opt for them several days a week for lunches or dinners, and the only common factor between them is that they are dressed. There are so many tasty and interesting combos to choose from, from your choice of protein, to types of vinaigrettes and topping options. So bend the rules with some of my best tips to make stellar salads year-round.
I have rounded up the following salad ideas so you will never be bored with your packed lunch again.
Salad ideas: Lettuce is not a must
You might think of salads as most often lettuce-based, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, salads made with mostly lettuce are not very filling or nutritious. Stray from your usual base by using shredded kale, Swiss chard leaves, radicchio or a mix of fresh herbs like parsley, chives or cilantro instead. Or try a combination of other ingredients, leaving greens out altogether.
Try our Lentil-Spinach Salad With Feta and Grapes recipe.
Salad ideas: Dress for success
Dressings tie all the elements of a salad together. The easiest switch-up is to play with the type of fat you use to make them: olive oil is a classic, but try other oils like sesame, hazelnut or garlic-infused to make the flavours pop. Same goes with acids. If you’re used to using balsamic vinegar, try something new by whisking in apple cider vinegar, citrus (lemon or lime) or rice wine vinegar to keep things interesting. You can also add a touch of sweetness by stirring in honey, maple syrup or orange juice.
Try our Chinese Cabbage and Peanut Salad with Ginger Dressing recipe.
Salad ideas: Blend the sweet and the salty
A little hit of something sweet mixed with the savoury elements of a salad is the easiest way to keep the flavours exciting. Add seasonal fruit and pair with sharp cheeses and veggies. I love the combo of grilled peaches and halloumi in the summertime, sliced pears and peppery arugula in the fall and blood orange and shredded Swiss chard leaves in the winter.
Try our Prosciutto, Pear and Parmesan Salad recipe.
Salad ideas: Up the crunch factor
I always like to add something crunchy to salads for some texture. Nuts and seeds are a classic choice, but think outside-of the-box with roasted chickpeas, crisp veggies or baked pita chips.
Try this Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons recipe.
Salad ideas: Protein shake-up
Adding grilled chicken to salads is a no-brainer but it can quickly get boring if you’re using it all the time. Switch-up your protein by stirring in leftover flank steak, baked tofu or hard-boiled eggs. I also like to stir in sliced chorizo or kielbasa sausage (a little goes a long way), edamame, baked salmon or seared shrimp.
Try our Salade Niçoise With Hot-Smoked Trout recipe.
Salad ideas: Add bulk
If your salads are mostly made up of greens and veggies, they’re bound to leave you feeling hungry fairly quickly after you’ve eaten them. Keep cooked grains in your fridge for the week so you can easily stir them into salads. Quinoa is a nutritious, choice but try other options like farro, lentils or Israeli couscous to make things feel a little different. Roasted roots are also a delicious option to add bulk: experiment with roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and rutabaga.
Try our Middle Eastern Lentil Salad recipe.
Salad ideas: Play with shapes and sizes
I like to prep and cut fruit and veggies in different ways from week to week to keep meals feeling fresh and new. If you have a spiralizer, try spiralizing carrots, beets, zucchini or apples to add to salads. Or, if you’re used to chopping your veggies, try thinly slicing some of them instead. To save on prep time, invest in a mandoline for these tasks. Thinly sliced beets, pears, apples or carrots are easy ingredients to start with.
Try our Beet and Orange Salad recipe.
Salad ideas: Go spicy
Open your pantry cupboards and take a look at what you have on hand. Adding a little spice to your dressings or protein as it cooks is an instant flavour-boost. I love adding curry powder to vinaigrettes (my current favourite is olive oil, apple cider vinegar, diced shallots, a little honey and curry powder), but paprika, cumin, sumac, dried oregano and chili powder work well too.
Try our High-Fibre Bean and Rice Salad with Mustard and Thyme Dressing recipe.