Salads can be a bowl full of joy or sad, tasteless affairs. I’ve got easy tips for you to make sure every salad you eat is amazing.
The trick is to customize salads to the foods you like. Just because you grew up eating iceberg lettuce and tasteless cherry tomatoes doesn’t mean those salads need to chase you into your grownup meals.
I’d rather dig into a delicious mound of crisp greens, vegetables and herbs bursting with flavor and texture so I’m sure you would too.
Here are my 11 easy tips for creating amazing salads that will have you at the top of the clean plate club.
Easy Tips for Amazing Salads
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I’ve amassed a lot of ideas for crafting an awesome salad over the years. 50 years nearly.
Did I tell you I turned 50 this year?
50 is pretty cool. Don’t worry about it if you’re not there yet. I think you’ll like it.
Anyhoo, here we go.
How Can I Make Salads Taste Better?
Use a good sized bowl for putting your salad together.
Use a big bowl glass or ceramic that you might use to mix cookie dough. That way you’ll have plenty of room to mix up all the ingredients without losing any to the counter.
Don’t have a big bowl?
Three Essentials for an Awesome Salad
- a cut clove of garlic for rubbing on the inside of your salad bowls or plates
- kosher salt or sea salt for sprinkling over your lettuce
- a generous sized bowl for mixing the ingredients together
You can serve your awesome salads on a plate but you’ll want to prepare them in a bowl.
Or, and I tell you this only because I don’t think you’ll judge me, if you’re feeling lazy and like you’re not going to want to wash an extra dish, mix everything in a big Ziplock.
That way you can seal it up and give it a good shake.
No matter what you’re doing with the vegetables, a good first step is to rub a cut clove of garlic over the inside of your salad bowl or salad Ziplock.
The garlic imparts a little extra flavor to the greens.
The garlic clove tip is from my late grandfather’s lady. She also gave my mom a tip that proves useful if you’ve over imbibed. If you go to bed and lay down and the room is spinning, drop one toe onto the floor to make the room stop. I heard this little nugget after a funeral party when I was seven. We were all out of state and holed up together. There had been lots of cocktails. I don’t think they knew I was listening but I was and I tucked that little gem into a recess of my brain until I got to college and had to use it.
But I digress, back to making a salad.
Choose a Theme or Flavor Profile for Your Salad
Choose a theme or flavor profile for your salad, if you like.
What I mean by this is think about the ingredients you already have and decide if you want to make a Southwestern inspired salad with tomato, peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado and maybe a few crushed tortilla chips as a topping.
Try a Thai theme with cucumber, pineapple, shredded carrot and chopped peanuts.
Or Italian, with fresh tomatoes, basil, artichoke hearts and provel cheese.
The possibilities are endless.
Choosing a theme for your salad can help you really layer flavors together.
Or, don’t choose a theme, just put in what you have and really like.
Freshness is Key
Make sure the lettuce is fresh. If not crisp from the field fresh, make sure you toss any wilted leaves or brown spots. No one wants to eat those.
Get a Variety of Vegetables in Your Bowl
Speaking of greens, choose more than one if you can.
There are so many lettuces to choose.
- green leaf
- red leaf
Ditch the Dirt
Rinse the greens and then pat the leaves dry using a clean linen kitchen towel or a paper towel.
Sprinkle just a few grains of sea salt or kosher salt over the lettuce right before you dress the salad.
You’ll be amazed at how much a teensy sprinkle of sea salt will bring lettuce to life.
Sprinkle a Little Spice
Depending on what theme you’re going with, sprinkle a few dried or fresh herbs on the salad.
If you’re making a southwestern salad, sprinkle a little ground cumin over the top.
Or a dash of oregano to an Italian salad.
What Can You Add To A Salad?
Add some crunch with some more vegetables:
- Green onion
- Celery root slices
- Sweet peppers
- Jalapeno peppers
- Artichoke hearts
- Chunks of roasted potatoes
- Pea shoots
- pickled okra
Luxurious Salad Toppings:
Toss in fruit if you like:
- Pineapple chunks
- Orange segments
- Apple slices
- Pear slices
Add smoky or crunchy:
- Smoked almonds
- Chopped pistachios
- Chopped peanuts
- Roasted pecans
- Tortilla strips
- Sunflower seeds
- Crumbled bacon
Add some chew:
- Dried cranberries
Cheese is another good thing to put on a salad, especially if you’re making it a meal.
Finally, add a small bit of something, maybe high fat like avocado or salty like a half a strip of bacon crumbles or some chopped nuts or a drizzle of truffle oil over the top to really make your bowl of salad shine.
Add protein if you like, what’s leftover in your fridge?
- Beans: black, kidney or chickpea if you like chickpea
- Steak slices
How many vegetables should I add to a salad?
It’s really up to you. I’m a fill the bowl to the top with lettuce person and then toss a quarter cup or a half a cup of vegetables on top and give it a good stir.
The Best Tool for Tossing a Salad
Like most other dishes, your hands are your best tool.
Leave those fancy salad tongs that you got from a coworker at your wedding shower in the utensil drawer.
Wash your hands with hot water and soap, rinse well, then put your paws in the bowl.
Your right and left paws will do a better job than a clunky giant spoon and fork. Trust me.
Then drizzle on a little salad dressing. Or drizzle on a lot, if you love dressing.
I like my salads a bit on the dry side so I tend to use no more than a couple teaspoons then I give it a stir around with a fork.
Or skip the dressing and just squeeze a bit of lemon or lime over the salad.
Fresh green salads should be consumed right after you make them, especially if you’ve already put salad dressing on.
How do I make myself like salad?
Not everyone likes to eat a bowl of leafy greens and vegetable but you can learn to like salad more than you do now.
My best tip is to think about your favorite cuisine and build a salad around those flavors.
If you love Tex-Mex, find a southwestern ranch dressing you like or make your own.
Add peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado and maybe a few crushed tortilla chips as a topping.
There’s nothing in the eating rule book that says salads must include lettuces.
What’s your favorite salad ingredient?