Healthy living doesn’t have to mean sacrificing delicious meals. Create delicious springtime salads with some basic ingredients.
The basics of salad
Salads can be made any time of the year, but spring is arguably the best time to enjoy them because more fresh produce is available.
The key to building a great salad is creating a balance of tastes and textures. Follow this simple formula to make a spring salad that is substantial enough to stand on its own as a meal:
1. Salad greens
A typical salad base begins with approximately three cups of salad greens per person. Romaine, red leaf, butter or Little Gem are good varieties of lettuce to try. Spinach and arugula are also in season in spring, as is baby kale (massage first with olive oil first). Save some prep time with pre-packaged salad mixes.
2. Vegetables and (technically) fruits
Use as many of these as you want! Some ideas: avocados, carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, radishes, peas, spring onions and sprouts.
3. Grains or starch
Salads can be made into a complete meal by adding a little starch, but don’t go too crazy–around half a cup per person is good. Healthy grains such as rice, couscous, quinoa, wheat berries or farro work well. New potatoes are also a nice springtime addition.
Feel free to add a little lean protein to your salad. Aim for about 3oz of chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or tofu. Half an ounce of crumbly cheese like blue cheese, feta or goat cheese can add more flavor and help fill you up!
Garnishes can be used to make your salad stand out. Crunchy or salty work well here. Sprinkle nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts.
Some say that the best salad dressing is a simple combination of three parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar—the higher quality the ingredients, the better the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also substitute lemon juice for vinegar and add honey, mustard, herbs, minced garlic or shallots. Tahini and white miso also make good bases.
Create your own healthy masterpiece
Now that you have the proportions down, create your own salad masterpiece or try one of the following combinations:
Butter lettuce, green beans, red peppers, new potatoes, tuna, hard boiled eggs, pitted Kalamata olives. For the dressing, whisk together olive oil, red-wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and salt to taste.
Massage kale with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add in chopped avocado, brown rice and crumbled wasabi-flavored nori (seaweed). Top with sliced green onions. This salad doesn’t really need a dressing but a splash of soy sauce is a good addition!
Farro or Wheat Berry Salad
Arugula, cooked farro (or wheat berries), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese. Top with a dressing made from olive oil and apple cider vinegar with your choice of fresh herbs.