So you’ve never really been into salad. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t turn your nose up at Sweetgreen if someone put it in front of you, but you’re not likely to drop $12 on it.
Regardless of your purported hatred of green things (or just really expensive green things), there is a salad out there that you can make for yourself and truly enjoy. With this goal in mind, I’ve compiled a list of tips to make easy and tasty salads that go beyond iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and baby carrots.
1. Build your salad around an ingredient you actually like.
We tend to think of salads from the ground (green) up, instead of starting with the ingredients we enjoy. Odds are, there is some vegetable or fruit that you actually enjoy eating. So throw that in with some greens and add ingredients you think will complement it.
2. Change up your greens.
If you hate iceberg, why not try spinach, mixed greens or arugula? This arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and a lemon Parmesan dressing should convince you that greens can actually taste good.
3. Pick ingredients you don’t need to chop.
Chopping is definitely the most labor-intensive part of making a salad, but you can avoid it entirely if you’re selective about ingredients. Pre-shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, Craisins, chickpeas and grapes, as well as the nuts and cheeses mentioned below, are all ideal for this reason.
4. Add toasted nuts or seeds.
Toasted pine nuts, sunflower seeds or walnuts can add a buttery flavor to a salad, not to mention a nice crunch. Here’s a guide that explains how to toast nuts in the microwave if you don’t have a toaster or an oven to use.
5. Go ahead, carb-load.
Quinoa, black beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes are all great healthy additions to a salad. But hey, salads are already really healthy, so if you want to throw some pita or tortilla chips in, by all means do it. Try this awesome apple-citrus quinoa salad.
6. Add some (lots of!) cheese.
Any cheese can make a salad more flavorful, but stronger cheeses are particularly good if you’re hoping not to taste the greens. I recommend blue cheese, goat cheese and feta because they are strong, crumbly cheeses you can incorporate into your salad without cutting them up! Try this salad with tomato, avocado, and feta.
7. If you don’t like store-bought dressing, try adding oil and vinegar or lemon juice to your salad.
A lot of store-bought dressings just look gloopy and unappealing, so try adding a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and chopped garlic to savory salads, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar to sweet salads.
8. Master the ratio of greens to good stuff.
You shouldn’t hate salad just because you’re unenthusiastic about leafy greens. Ideally, you probably want to get some of the other stuff with every bite. I personally prefer my salad to be about ¼ ingredients that aren’t salad greens by volume. Try out different combinations to see what works for you.
Salad doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?