I'm trying to eat more salads and have become very bored of mine.
They have been quite simple....lettuce, cherry tomatoes, raisins, olives, parmesan cheese, or baby mozarella balls, cucumbers, croutons, mandarin oranges. (Not all of these items together but a different combination each time). I love salad dressings and these make my salad. My new one is a miso salad dressing.
Anybody have some suggestions or ideas of ways to jazz up my salad or different things to add to it?
What about using grains as the base for your salads, instead of greens? Farro is really good, as are fregola, quinoa, coarse bulgar wheat, and cous-cous. You can add veggies and cheese, and any dressing you want. These salads hold up well in the fridge and make wonderful lunches. They'll keep well for a few hours at room temp, so they're perfect to take to the office.
How about adding:
- Grilled chicken, steak, fish, shrimp, etc.
- Grilled veggies (asparagus, zucchini, etc.)
- Fruit: Watermelon, strawberries, etc.
Or making a taco salad, italian chopped salad, nicoise, louie,...
A second vote for grain salads. They've been a staple for us this awful summer.
For a change, try Caesar salad or tzatziki. Or a basil-mozzarella-tomato salad. Spinach, feta and bacon. Wilted salads, I make these with a hot salad dressing. Jicama slaw. That's all that come to mind right now, I'm sure there are lots of others.
I had an Orzo salad today with a lot of diced-up veggies. Last week I got real creative with some bean salads. Tabouli & Hummus or Babaganoosh with pita bread.
I really love to top my green salads with tuna or chicken salad. Basically canned tuna or fresh-poached chicken mixed with light miracle whip and anything else your heart so desires: mustard, relish, onion, peppers, curry powder, grapes, almonds, etc.
It's a great protein boost for a leafy salad. Tastes great with any kind of dressing!
Change the green: try fennel or endive or Boston lettuce. Like most people who come back from a trip to Italy, I'm now addicted to arugula and put it in everything. Shaved asparagus, watercress, parsley, herb salad (a mix of whatever fresh green herbs you have on hand), chives, mint, lemongrass -- no need to keep going to the plain lettuces as a base.
Try adding something warm to your salad, whether some protein to make it a heartier entree salad (grilled squid) or even roasted fruit (instead of veggies) or warm croutons (not white bread -- try polenta or pumpernickel) or warm cheese (heated goat with honey or crispy parm disks).
Last but not least, experiment with homemade dressings. (You mention that you love them and they 'make' your salads.) Easy to make, probably healthier. No need to resort to the same ol' bottled Italian and Ranch.
A few more ideas for you....
Lightly cooked green beans, white beans (cannelini, navy, etc.), slivered red onion, fresh herbs of choice (parsley and basil are great), diced tomato. Dress with a red wine viniagrette or olive oil and lemon juice dressing, garlic or not to your preference. Serve as a side salad for dinner and then add a can of tuna and a few capers or olives the next day for lunch. This is also nice made without the diced tomato, but served inside a tomato.
Chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, doused with a garlicky and very lemony olive oil based dressing -- onions and garlic optional, but definitly add a lot of parsley.
Bacon, lettuce and tomato salad, with homemade croutons and any dressing you like (green goddess or a mayo-based caesar with basil added are great). Add cooked chicken, to make a main dish, and add avocado, hard boiled egg, cucumber and blue cheese to make a Cobb salad. Add crabmeat and avocado with a "crab Louis" style dressing for another take.
Something that is so good but simple is celery salad -- sliver the celery, dress with lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, and shaved parmagiano cheese. I also do this with radishes added. This one is good for winter when there are fewer salad choices.
If you want something that isn't in the crispy green salad mode, one of my favorites is something I modified from a S.E. Asian recipe to make it work for less adventurous eaters -- cooked chicken and shrimp mixed with cantelope, honeydew, grapes, and/or any other fruit that is in season and works for you, plus cucumber, dressed with slivered hot chiles, toasted shallots, garlic, lime juice and either peanuts or cashews. Very nice to serve in lettuce cups, but I have also added shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix) and/or soaked cellophane noodles to bulk it up.
I make a variant of the tuna salad discussed above all the time-- this week it was canned white beans, canned olive oil packed tuna (don't drain the oil), canned chopped artichoke hearts, and halved cherry tomatoes with lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil and red wine vinegar. Last week I grilled green beans and onion slices on the foreman grill, chopped them, and left out the artichoke hearts.
The recent crowd pleaser here has been the coarse bulgur, caramelized onion, and canned Goya lentils whomped together in a salad I have been seasoning with olive oil, lots of ground black pepper, salt, red wine vinegar, and a good slug of pomegranate molasses. Great with feta or goat cheese mixed in, or chickpeas instead of lentils (I like the lentils better) and even better with chopped fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds or golden raisins. It complements grilled meats quite nicely, but is filling on its own. Good warm or cold.
I also make a "red" salad-- raddichio, red romaine or oak leaf lettuce, roasted beets, toasted nuts, prosciutto, goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Finely chopped rosemary or thyme are great complements. Slivered red grapefruit is good, too.
Miso salad dressing on romaine, smoked or baked tofu, blanched green peas, chopped scallions and chopped (English) cucumber is very good-- same combo, minus the romaine, plus cold soba noodles, alternately dressed with soy sauce, black pepper, and lime juice is also very good. (I ripped off a soba noodle salad in the June? July? Gourment, that called for feta instead of tofy-- I thought the tofu went better.)
Yes, I was going to say, next time you fire up your grill, grill some extra veggies (onion, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, mushrooms, radicchio, eggplant, whatever you like). These are equally good in green salads or grain-based salads. I'm crazy about both grilled radicchio and grilled onions and try to remember to grill some whenever I'm grilling -- they always get used up.
Always a crowd-pleaser: grilled eggplant, grilled red onion, blanched green beans, chopped sweet onion, tomatoes, black olives and feta in a vinaigrette with herbes de Provence (especially herbes with lavender in them).
This post got me to have salads on the brain yesterday, so I made this salad last night!
It was EXCELLENT... SO loved it!! :)
The only sub I did was instead of the raw veggies, I sauteed a 1lb of Crimini Mushrooms cut in half with a bunch of chopped shallots and let it cool to toss into the salad. The taste was great because nothing goes better with steak than Salad! :)
While I like lettuce, I like to make lots of non-lettuce salads. There are so many ways to use cucumbers, for instance. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds so the salad won't be too soggy. Cut them and salt them, then assemble more ingredients. Dressings can be balsamic vinaigrette, yogurt (with mint or dill), vinegar & sugar, fish sauce & hot pepper for an Thai/Vietnamese style. An old family favorite is lots of salt & pepper, then just a couple tablespoons of 1/2 & 1/2 (for this one, don't seed the cukes, slice them extremely thinly on a grater, and be sure to drink the salty, peppery, milky juice at the end). I just made a nice cuke salad with sliced oranges, a surprisingly good combo
Other veggies that make great salad bases: red peppers, tomatoes, green/yellow beans (blanched), shredded carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage of course.
I will often add canned black beans to salads for a nutrition boost. They are especially good with spinach, red onions and goat cheese. Beans turn a salad from a side in to a meal, and nearly any kind will work.
I love topping a green salad with a poached egg, so that when you cut the egg the yolk pours onto the greens...
Other things I like: cutting veggies (like zucchini) into noodle-like ribbons; adding cubes of roasted tempeh; sweet-salty or sweet-spicy combos (ie, berries and feta, or peaches and chilis); curry dressing.