Don't limit salads to a side dish. Eat them as main dishes, make your own dressing, and get creative by adding a wide variety of proteins and grains.
In Praise of Leftovers
One of my New Year's resolutions is to eat more salad. Clearly, a salad resolution is easier than some others. If you know some tricks, that is. One thing I'm proud of is that my friends and family report their salads have gotten progressively tastier and more interesting as a result of being around me. A girl has to leave some sort of legacy, right? That's mine.
Now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, I guess I have a lot of opinions and tips when it comes to salad. Are you ready for this?
You don't need lettuce to make a salad. The one pictured here is curly kale and a couple huge handfuls of sprouts (which I'm really into right now and am growing on my kitchen counter). No lettuce. In the winter, cabbage is often the base of my salads. It's cheap, lasts forever in the fridge, and delivers a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
Purchased salad dressing is a racket. A big one. Loaded with calories, expensive, and usually not very tasty. Often, I don't mix up a salad dressing. I just toss my whole salad with a big squeeze of lemon (or lime or vinegar), coarse salt and pepper, and a glug of olive oil. Just pour them right in the bowl and mix gently and well with your hands. If you're going to make dressing, the general rule is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, plus salt (and pepper, if you're a pepper person). Of course you can endlessly variate this – honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Cilantro, sesame and vegetable oil, miso paste, and soy sauce. Find a favorite combo, make a big batch, and use it all week.
A little bit of fat or protein goes a long way, especially if you make a "chopped salad" (as opposed to layered or composed). Some finely chopped almonds, a little bit of salami, ham turkey, bacon, or tuna, 1/2 a hard-boiled egg, a bit of crumbled feta or blue cheese, a handful of canned chickpeas, or a couple minced olives or anchovies are all you need to make your salad feel like a substantial meal. You can, of course, leave these things out, but I like finding those little nuggets in the tangle of veggies.
Make your salad components uniform in size. There's nothing worse than negotiating a giant chuck of carrot right next to some delicate greens. If you want chunky, make everything chunky (think Greek salad or Salad Nicoise.) A chopped salad (my favorite lately) means you can get a bite of almost everything in one forkful. It also means you're likely to eat more vegetables since they are hospitably cut.