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Top tips for Salads

Its promising to be a lovely warm british summer. Time to put away the bean pots and get out the salad spinners.
I'm trying to find new ideas to spruce up boring salads.
1. Cous Cous - instead of adding water, I usually add chicken stock, followed by diced cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, corriander.

2. Ever tried adding citrus to a salad? I haven't, but willing to try...what's the worst that can happen.

Any other suggestions?

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  1. I add grapefruit sections to a salad of endive, arugula and watercress. If you want to get fancy dress it with a raspberry/shallot vinaigrette.

    Citrus is indeed a wonderful addition to salad. If you don't know how to, learn the technique to "supreme" the citrus segments (by using your knife to remove the segments without any pith/membrane remaining.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shaogo

      FL, so guess what. Tons of citrus all the time in salad. From grapefruit and oranges to arugula, romaine, spinach, I also love using citrus dressings. Fresh juice or marmalades mixed with olive oil, garlic, shallots and fresh herbs. Tarragon and mint are great.

      I love cooking the citrus lightly in a saute pan with shallots and then adding a little honey and then adding it to fresh arugula. It is a great easy salad.

    2. I love apricots in my spinach salad, nuts too. I love a panzanella salad, there are so many versions but this one is my fav and it's piled on a big grilled port. mush cap:

      * Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for liberal drizzling, plus 1/4 cup
      * 5 large portobello mushroom caps
      * 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, a couple of sprigs
      * Salt and pepper
      * 1 cup diced, stale chewy bread
      * 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
      * 2 ribs celery from the heart with green tops, very thinly sliced
      * 1/2 small onion, chopped
      * Couple handfuls flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
      * 1 lemon, juiced
      * Small chunk Parmigiano Reggiano, to shave on salad


      Pre-heat grill pan over medium-high heat.

      Drizzle EVOO over 4 mushrooms and season with rosemary and salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes on each side then remove from grill.

      While the portobellos cook, cut the remaining portobello into 4 thick slices then thinly slice each piece across. Mix the shaved fresh mushrooms with bread, tomatoes, celery, onion and parsley and dress the salad with the juice of 1 lemon and about 1/4 cup EVOO. Toss and season the salad with salt and pepper, to taste.

      Top grilled mushrooms with mounds of the salad and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

      I also been doing this grilled veg salad lately that's really good, even if you use lettuce as the base with grilled vegies around the sides.


      1. I like a few tiny bits of dried fruit in a green salad with a vinaigrette dressing. A few nuts add a nice textural difference, too. Edible blossoms add so much visual appeal that it almost doesn't matter what else the salad contains.

        1. Definitely yes to citrus! Besides the afore-mentioned grapefruit, oranges are lovely (mandarin or any variety). I like them in spinach salads, maybe a crisp crunchy romaine with a poppy seed dressing...

          Also very popular is strawberries with spinach and balsamic dressing. I had one at a restaurant a few weeksn ago that combined fresh juicy peaches with arugula - so good. Berries are a nice addition to many salads too.

          Grilled fruit is also good in salads - one in particular I like uses grilled pears (optional wrapped after grilling in proscuitto) on a bed of greens with hazlenuts and a white balsamic dressing.

          LOVE fruit in my salads!

          1. instead of stock, try lemon or orange juice for your cous-cous. i do that for barley as well.

            i like a salad of cucumbers, green grapes and mint, with a little fruity olive oil and black pepper.

            coarse bulgur with blueberries, yogurt, lemon juice and mint.

            barley with watercress, tomatoes, chopped almonds, feta and olives.

            lentils with carrots, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, bacon, loads of chopped parsley and chopped tomatoes.

            if i've got a lot of leafy greens, i like chopping up fresh herbs in there too, especially mint and basil.

            1. Citrus is a definite add to green salads, as are dried cranberries. Panko-crusted and pan-seared goat cheese rounds are a great addition as well.

              And as hotoynoodle said, adding some herbs to the mix of baby lettuces gives it nice flavor. One of my favorite green herbs to add is sorrel - the leaves have an acidic taste that add a nice "buzz" to your salads. Can't describe it any other way.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LindaWhit

                i love sorrel too. purslane and lemon balm give interesting nuances also.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Haven't tried the purslane or lemon balm (and I think I've only seen the latter in stores near me). You see "lemon balm" in so many aromatherapy items as well. Will have to look for it.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    i had tons of purslane (it's basically a lawn weed) in my yard and had planted lemon balm, which also grew like a weed. it has a very strong flavor and aroma -- a little goes a long way.

              2. on saturday night, i made a spinach salad to accompany our shrimp and artichokes. i used a dressing that i had on a salad recently that was so fabulous that i went back to the grocery just for the grape tomatoes! i served the dressing over spinach with goat cheese crumbles and a couple of beautifully ripe and buttery avocados.

                tyler florence's roasted tomato dressing


                * 1 pint cherry tomatoes
                * 1 clove garlic, smashed
                * Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1/4 cup for the dressing
                * Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
                * 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
                * 1 teaspoon sugar
                * Handful fresh parsley leaves (i used basil out of my garden and it was PERFECT!)


                Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

                Take a roasting dish and lay the tomatoes out with the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatoes have burst and juices are slightly caramelized.

                Remove from the oven and place in a blender with all the pan juices. Add the red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, sugar, parsley, and salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined. Refrigerate until cool.

                1. All the suggestions so far sounds fab! Definitely will give the citrus a try. I included radishes in the salad last night, but did not like the flavor. I think Im going to marinate them in a balsamic reduction before trying them again.
                  I've recently tried a salad with crispy bacon, lots of leaves, tomatoes and a poached egg on top. Surprisingly really good, as I was not too keen on the idea of a poached egg on top of my salad.
                  Loving all these ideas...lots to try out now.

                  1. here is another concurrent summer salad thread, for reference. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625271

                    1. Have you ever tried quinoa in a salad? You can substitue it for cous-cous in the salad you mentioned above. It's also good with Asian inspired ingredients..

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        Quinoa is so under-rated sometimes. Its such a versatile 'bean?'. I love doing it with lots of mushrooms, spinach and onions. Yum.

                        1. re: Soyabean

                          I made a warm quinoa with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, red onions, crasins, and a warm teriyaki vinaigrette. Seems like we think alike!

                          And from what I understand... quinoa is a complete protein. It's actually a berry, not a grain!

                      2. I love to roast my veggies with olive oil, some fresh herbs and garlic and then toss with fresh romaine. I make a NO oil egg dressing which complements the roasted veggies and it is just a simple salad but very hearty. You could easily grill these vegetables as well.

                        Also love a salad I make with grilled skirt steak, penne pasta and fresh arugula. About half and half arugula and pasta, Add some thin sliced cucumbers, sundried tomatoes, red onion and toss with a very light soy, garlic, cilantro, and honey dressing with a little chili sauce for heat and then toss with the pasta and salad and top with the grilled steak. It is a light great alternative to pasta or just salad.

                        I make a lot of salads with pasta and lettuce all the time during the summer. Some fresh grilled meats and seafood and summer vegetables and light dressings are great.

                        1. Combine chopped artichokes, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, and baby spinach spinach. Toss with fresh orchichette pasta, a light lemon vinaigrette and top with grilled chicken and fresh goat cheese crumbled.

                          Also toss cheese tortellini with a spring greens mix. Your favorite. Some fresh roasted red peppers and grilled onions, black olives then topped with pan seared panchetta and a warm balsamic vinaigrette. Top with grated parm. Warm but still a salad and a nice twist.

                          1. "Its promising to be a lovely warm british summer"

                            Looking out of the window, looks another broken promise from the weather fairies. It may be warm, but it's about to pee down again here.

                            I agree, middle eastern/north african salads are a way to go. As well as cous cous, I use bulgher wheat or rice. Same things to go in as you're putting in. On the citrus front, try adding chopped preserved lemons as well. And use lemon juice in your dressing.

                            Segments of orange work well in salad with very thinly sliced fennel and some rocket.

                            1. I've been making a lot of bean salads recently. I love the black eyed pea salad with fresh corn in Bon Appetit Y'All, and Ottolenghi's broad bean (fava), radish and preserved lemon salad. I can't recommend this combo highly enough actually.


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: greedygirl

                                I love bean salads as well. I don't have a particular recipe. But I will take some red leaf or romaine add some cannellini beans, a light lemon vinaigrette, some onion, olives and cucumbers some fresh feta and maybe some artichokes and what a wonderful easy dinner. Very hearty with the beans. That with a nice slice of steak would make an excellent meal or a nice grilled lamb chop. Or maybe 2.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Valentine Warner had a number of salads in last night's episode of "What to eat now", including a couple using broad beans. Rather good (memo to self - must get the book).

                                  Folk with access to BBC iPlayer will be able to catch up with it. The man is fast becoming my food hero.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    i make an awesome (to my own humble tastes, hehe) lentil salad. I buy the refridgerated packs of lentils and roasted beets from trader joes for ease, but you can start from dried/raw if you want. I mix the lentils with the chopped beets, diced cucumber, chopped red onion, halved grape tomatoes, chopped fennel, tarragon white wine vinegar, salt, pepper. It gets better the longer it sits. If you want it to look prettier, don't mix the beets in until right before serving because of color seepage. But definitely wait until right before serving to add some chiffonaded tarragon leaves.... My favorite thing to eat in the summer, cool, healthy, and filling....

                                2. With summer fruit upon us, I've been making a watermelon & heirloom tomato salad - with tons of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives) and feta cheese. I dressed it with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Another stand-by lately is roasted beets (I prefer the golden ones; they are a bit milder) tossed with arugula & goat cheese with a simple lemon vinegarette dressing.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Obessed

                                    Love beets any way. With arugula they are great.

                                    I make a beet salad with oranges, red and gold beets roasted, red onion, arugula, toasted walnuts, I use goat cheese and then warm slices or prok grilled with a herbed marinade and tossed with light vinaigrette

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      I love beets too, and so much I planted some from seeds. They are about 2 inches high and it's like caring for a newborn baby. Keep your fingers crossed, I can't wait to roast these when they get a little bigger. I love your salad!

                                    2. re: Obessed

                                      I enjoy summer fruits in my salads as well. It helps to cool down those hot summer days. Here is a great adventurous salad recipe to try with strawberries and baby greens:

                                      Strawberry-Candied Pecan Salad

                                      1 pkg. (5 oz.) mixed baby greens
                                      3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries
                                      1/4 cup KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese
                                      1/4 cup sliced red onions
                                      1/4 cup PLANTERS Pecan Pieces, candied
                                      1/4 cup KRAFT Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing


                                      COMBINE all ingredients except dressing.
                                      TOSS with dressing just before serving.

                                      Tip: How to Candy Pecans
                                      Combine nuts and 2 Tbsp. sugar in skillet; cook and stir on medium heat 5 min. or until sugar is melted and evenly coats nuts.

                                      For nutritional info:

                                    3. A favourite salad in our house is made in a soup bowl. It has a bed of lettuce on the bottom, maybe a scoop of brown rice or other grain on top and then an arrangement of piles of grated carrots, grated beets (raw), cubed tofu or grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices etc. Last week I added sliced up sugar snap peas. Then you can pour an interesting dressing over top like green goddess and sprinkle nuts on top or pumpkin seeds. To the extent this is a recipe, it came from a book called Whitewater Cooks. They serve it with a totally weird yet totally delicious dressing made with nutritional yeast, tahini and tamari. "Some" people have been busted for drinking it straight from the jar.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: waver

                                        that dressing sounds amazing delicious.... but tahini in anything sounds good. So its like a cheesy, nutty, salty dressing?

                                        1. re: kubasd

                                          Yes, the very definition of savoury! Do you want the recipe?

                                        2. re: waver

                                          So I guess I'm not totally nuts- I mix soy sauce and tahini and drizzle it over pasta.

                                        3. for you watermelon lovers, i'd like to direct you to this "grilled watermelon" thread, which incidentally has tons of great summer salad ideas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539218