If you think salad is bland, you’re doing something wrong.
Grab Some Greens
Skip the plain iceberg lettuce and go for a heartier base that gives your creation a darker green hue and has more nutrients.
Butterhead or romaine lettuce: These mild-flavored leaves make a great base and are well-suited for more daring toppings or dressings.
Baby spinach: Crisp and rich in iron, spinach salads work best with citrus flavors and vinaigrettes.
Arugula: Although rarely found in the dining hall, arugula is another common choice. It tastes slightly peppery, and its ripple-edged leaves add textural novelty.
Feeling adventurous? There are many other options for salad greens in the produce aisle. Look for oval-shaped endive or tender, reddish-hued oakleaf.
Add Some Veggies
When sprinkling on vegetables, do it like a pro and contrast shapes and colors to give your dish visual appeal.
Carrots, celery and tomato: Mix up the traditional veggie blend by slicing your carrots into long, thin strips with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cherry tomatoes make for a more convenient option than regular sliced tomatoes.
Avocado and corn: Great with romaine lettuce, avocado adds a light creaminess. Corn complements the avocado’s soft texture and lends a bright pop of color.
Red bell peppers and mushrooms: This combination also achieves a soft and crunchy contrast. The milder flavors pair well with baby spinach or arugula.
Make It Sweet
Fruits add color and freshness to salads. Try pears or grapes with arugula, or toss baby spinach with clementine wedges and dried cranberries.
Nuts add heartiness and crunch to any salad. Pair toasted walnuts with tangy crumbled feta over baby spinach and add apple slices or dried cranberries.
Give it Protein
Ensure satisfaction by topping your salad with filling ingredients. Just be sure not to weigh down the fresh vegetables with too much of these heavier additions.
Chicken breast: Slices of grilled chicken add substance and easily balance out a creamy Caesar dressing. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan for a slightly salty finish
Bacon and egg: As with many dishes, adding crumbled bacon to a salad gives it a meaty flavor and a satisfying crunch. Combine with a chopped hard-boiled egg and spinach leaves or butterhead lettuce.
Dress it Up
It’s too easy to smother a salad in dressing and make the greens soggy. Instead, opt for light coverage with complementary flavors.
Olive oil: Some salads are best simply tossed with high quality olive oil to let the other ingredients shine through. Try it with spinach
or arugula salads.
Ranch, blue cheese or Caesar: These bold-flavored dressings require sturdy leaves that won’t droop under the weight. All work well drizzled lightly over grilled chicken and romaine.
Vinaigrettes: There are many different takes on the vinaigrette, all based on combinations of oil and vinegar with various flavors added. Toss arugula, carrots and tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette, or finish a walnut, feta and pear spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette.
Do-it-yourself: If you mix two parts olive oil with either one part mustard or one part red wine vinegar, you can easily make a homemade dressing that you can adjust to your taste.