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Easy but different salad ingredients?

Does anyone have any favorite salad ingredients they like to put in/on salads to bulk them up? Something easy for quick weeknight meals? I'm looking for things that are super easy to prep and widely available, but maybe not as common as a cucumber or tomato. Things like hearts of palm come to mind off the top of my head.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you are looking for ... but it's DH's favorite salad. Toss greens (bitter-ish greens like frise, arugula, etc. work best) with a dressing made of 1 TBS cider vinegar, 1 TBS rice vinegar, 2 tsp honey, 2 TBS olive oil (plus minced shallots optional). On top, put pears prepared by -- peeling/coring/slicing 3 bosc pears, cooking them in 1 1/2 TBS butter and 1 TBS brown sugar for about 5 minutes. Put pears on top of dressed greens, sprinkle with gorgonzola crumbled up and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

    I'm not sure it really qualifies as "bulking up" but the cheese and nuts make it a bit more substantial. The sweetness of the fruit plus the sharpness of the greens makes for a different type of salad, we think.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LNG212

      Yeah, that's the kind of thing. I'm just looking for something to add substance instead of just sticking with the normal refrigerated, "cafeteria style" salad one might envision if they thought of a bland salad.

      We're doing a large salad for dinner tonight, that's why I was asking. Thanks!

      1. re: LNG212

        That sounds wonderful. I think I'll try it this week!

        1. re: jzerocsk

          sunchokes aka jerusalem artichoke are great and crisp and very health, just peel and dice or slice. I think that they have a specific season as I don't see them all the time. I also like jicama root, but don't use it as often as the sunchoke, I think b/c they are quite large. Jicama is easy to get at any supermarket, sunchokes I am not so sure of. i pick mine up at an organic store.

          to add bulk I add things like raw pepitas, hulled raw sunflower seeds or whole hemp seeds, flax seeds or flax meal are good as well.

          I also add sprouted beans. I can purchase a mix of sprouted beans with garbanzo, lentil, mung, pea, they are delicious and add a really nice crunch to a salad they are also very filling.

          If I am having a salad as a meal I like to add a grain to it such as brown rice or quinoa.

          I love salads and eat them almost every day, often 2x/day.

          1. re: cleopatra999

            i love sunchokes, but they can be tricky for a lot of people when eaten raw due to the high inulin content, which can sometimes lead to gastric distress.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              good to know....thanks. I have been trying to track that lately...perhaps this is my culprit!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Ah yes, I once ate a substantial serving of sunchoke gratin, and was not so happy afterward. TMI? Maybe. But they are indeed dangerous when cooked, as well!

          2. I love salads and make them different all the time, inspired by what I have or what I see in the store: corn, beans, red cabbage, zuchinni, fennel, leeks, artichoke hearts, edamame, Love Love love hearts of palm wrapped in prochutto then sliced into discs, red onion, radishes, peppers (red, orange, yellow), broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery - love the crunch of celery. Sometimes nuts, cheeses and herbs (basil, calantro, dill). sometimes meats or shellfish, roasted red pepper, olives, pickles cut up. OMG, I could go on - summer squash, ohhhh mushrooms of course. My salads are never the same and people do comment on my salads! Sometimes simple with only three or 4 ingrediants, sometimes a lot more - love color so that sometimes drives me. I always make more then I expect because I do get carried away. Same with the dressings, I like to play with ingrediants for the dressing.

            1. HaagenDazs, maybe a chef salad? Add slices of viriginia ham, white turkey, swiss cheese, avacado, black olives, boiled egg....quickly becomes a cobb salad...but these inclusions will bulk up & satisfy the salad to more of an entree.

              1. 4 things: candied pecans, arugula, granny smith apples, and blue cheese all with a maple mustard vinagarette. Add some fresh french bread and you got yourself a meal.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                  Oh Toronto Ff, I'm all over that combo this week. Great idea.

                  1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                    That sounds similar to what I posted above. But it's different enough too. I'll have to give it a try and see if DH likes that combination as well. Always good to have variation.

                  2. i can't remember the last time i've ever made a salad with lettuce!
                    cucumber + tomato, etc... for greek salad

                    i usually use jicama, kohlrabi or fennel. sometimes whatever is lying around... chickpeas. broccoli. leek. leftover roasted veg. apples, oranges, grapefruit, pears, kiwi, lychee, pomegranate. tofu. hearts of palm. bamboo shoots. water chestnuts. lotus root. daikon. beets.

                    i live on salads, since i sit too many hours in my studio and get up only for coffee.

                    1. * Roast root vegetables (beets, winter squash, parsnips, carrot, potato)

                      * marinated tempeh (simmer in soysauce and ginger)

                      * canned beans (black go well with pumpkin seeds and cilantro)

                      * hard boiled or poached egg

                      * baguette sliced up, rubbed with garlic and olive oil, and toasted, for big croutons

                      * I also like to make warm spinach salads by pouring hot oil over them. Makes them seem meatier for some reason.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lessleyellen

                        I like toasted pumpkin seeds (in a pumpkin oil vinaigrette, if you want). I often have duck confit (legs, gizzards) on hand, and a bit of warmed confit (or sauted gizzards) is always welcome. I also love dried cherries (Trader Joe's are the best, hands-down, and cheap as chips!). Oh, I will often cook up some tiny French lentils in some stock with a bay leaf, some thyme, whatever really--cook them until just done--not mushy. Cool, and toss with your favourite salad--they add a nice meatiness/heartiness that I like.

                      2. I love brussels sprouts. Also sugar snap peas. and Asian pears, and avocado

                        1 Reply
                        1. I sometimes add blanched broccoli and haricoverts to my salads.

                          1. I don't think anyone's mentioned corn yet.

                            Raisins, garbonzos, sunflower seeds, olives, roasted beets, peeled brocolli stems, spiced candies pecans, dried cranberries, hardboiled eggs, sprouts, peas, pea pods, black beans, pears (even canned, don't hate...), dry roasted soy beans, bacon (of course!), parmesan crisps, smoked or in the pouch salmon...mmm salads.

                            1. tofu

                              daikon (shredded or julienned)


                              Asian glass noodles




                              caramelized onions

                              1. Something really simple if you have access to Trader Joe's is to add roasted (salted if you like) shelled pistachios. They are quite tasty with a variety of dressing, and have a slightly spicy flavor. I keep a bag in the freezer to add to salads often.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: dkenworthy

                                  i don't know if they still have it, but i once picked up a bagged mix of roasted pepitas, slivered almonds & pine nuts at TJ's - it was fantastic on salad.

                                2. most of the things i include in my salads have already been mentioned, so i'll just add a couple more:
                                  - sliced or diced roasted beets
                                  - sliced pepperoncini (aka banana peppers)

                                  and i always use several types of greens, and mix shredded red cabbage, zucchini & carrots into them.

                                  1. Basically, any fruits, any cheese, and any nuts can go into a salad. Any fruit and any nut can go together (though some go better, of course...) It's the cheese that takes some thinking.

                                    1. Beets, even just straight from the can (yes, I know) or Melissa's has vacuum-packed baby beets, but they're hard to find. Chickpeas. Toasted nuts.

                                      1. Arugula with julienned sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and shaved parmigiano or pecorino in a lemon vinaigrette. This is good with grilled chicken as well.

                                        1. In Winter, I like to add very thinly sliced Red Anjou or Fiorelli Pears and very thinly sliced Fennel to Mixed Greens with frisee.

                                          I make a Meyer Lemon and Honey Vinaigrette with EVOO and Hazelnut Oil in the bottom of my wooden salad bown. I Place the Pears and Fennel in the Vinaigrette and mix.. I place the greens on top, and toss right before serving, topping with Toasted crushed Hazelnuts..

                                          1. Not super quick, but last night out of the only fresh veg that we have in the house we had roasted beets (cut into dice sized cubes, salt and peppered) tossed with avocado and lime juice. delicious.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. our default salad these days includes (in addition to lettuces/arugula) thinly sliced fennel, lightly roasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or pinenuts), some kind of chicory (belgian endive, radicchio, frisee etc), and a little onion or shallot along with the olive oil and vinegar. We mix up the vinegars., but Im particularly fond of some sweet-ish spanish vinegars these days.

                                              HB eggs are a great add to salad - work well with traditional american mix-ins like shredded carrots, onion and celery - or with bacon of course, and a viniagrette.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                These Spanish vinegars - are they sherry vinegars, or something else? Thanks.

                                                I also like citrus with fennel and nuts.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  actually no - I dont really care for sherry vinegar in salad. the vinegars I have most liked recently have been a little sweet.

                                                  Montegrato makes some very expensive but good sweet vinegars - from Pedro Ximenez and Fino wines. this is one product worth paying DeSpana's prices for.
                                                  Right now I am using a sharper but still very flavorful UNIQ Moscatel Vinegar, also from Spain.
                                                  Other vinegars and similar products we enjoy are saba (sometimes with a little lemon), some balsamic condiment (similar to the tradizionale) that I brought back from Italy this year - much smoother and more flavorful than commercial balsamic, and a white balsamic infused with pear or fig, also a little sweet and fruity, that is sold by Alessio.

                                                  I find that mixing up the oils and vinegars creates variety in our salads without actually making dressings or varying the ingredients much.

                                                  roasting the nuts a bit is important. to bring out their flavor - frying them a bit in oil also is good - it also adds flavor to the oil.
                                                  I tried the trader joes pumpkin seed/almond/pine nut mix - I think its texture (the almonds) is too crude, and I really dont care for the pumpkin seeds in my salad.

                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                    Thank you. I have a lot of Saba - hadn't thought to try it in salads and will.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        I put saba on salads too. I especially like it when I add roasted delicata squash slices to the salad. The saba goes quite well with the delicata flavor.

                                                2. From our dear old friend Julia Child --

                                                  one Tb minced shallot
                                                  2 tsp dijon or other good mustard
                                                  2 Tb lemon juice
                                                  salt & pepper
                                                  mix - then whisk in 1/2 c. olive oil

                                                  and my daily standard that I picked up somewhere years ago:
                                                  1/4 c. balsamic
                                                  3 T lemon juice (living in Mexico it is actually lime juice for me)
                                                  one minced clove garlic
                                                  dash cayenne
                                                  s & p
                                                  then whisk in 1/2 c olive oil
                                                  I keep this mixed up in a jar at all times - sometimes throw in a little mustard.

                                                  1. i keep two or three kinds of nuts and seeds - walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds
                                                    also dried fruits especially figs, apricots, peaches, raisons, cranberries
                                                    cheeses, goat cheese,parmigiano, feta, buffalo mozzarella,
                                                    fresh fruit - berries, apples, oranges, mandarins, pears
                                                    beans- chick peas, white kidney beans.
                                                    pickled veg - artichokes, roasted red peppers, olives, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, beets.
                                                    crispy toppings ie. fried onions (little india grocery), spicy indian channa noodles,
                                                    add rice noodles, couscous, grains, bhulgur, barley as base with salads,
                                                    ie, fine rice noodles, baby spinach, basil, mint w shrimp, julien carrots, red pepper and peanuts w ginger soy dressing
                                                    i buy deli roast chicken at SLM, canned salmon, tuna (see spiced brands) and frozen shrimp, deli roast beef ( rare sliced beef, lots of baby spinache, bit of arugula, top with fried onions, blue cheese or parmegiano with garlic dressing, a fave!).
                                                    eggs, boiled, sliced or grated, poached ie. on baguette crouton on ceasar salad w bacon

                                                    IMHO, except for the fruit of course, i can keep a lot of this on hand and am ready to toss a big salad any time