Salads don’t typically get the superstar treatment they deserve in comparison to other entrée choices. Ever been out with a friend or family member, and after considering a steak or burger on menu, that person sighs and says “Oh, I guess I’ll just have the salad” -- like it’s some sort of punishment? Or, at home, witnessed a tossed together, sad-looking, obligatory bed of lettuce that got scooted around the plate and right into the trash?
I eat at least one salad a day, every day of the year and have learned some tips and tricks to keep my routine fresh, unexpected and exciting. I hope you look at my Strawberry Blue Cuke Salad recipe featured today and think “Dang, I can’t wait to eat that”!
So, how do you create edible excitement for the entrée salads and side dish that not everyone else worships as much as me? I’m sharing four easy tips that will elevate your greens and other healthy things into the lunch or dinner of your dreams. With just a little bit of love and creativity, simple salads can transform into paparazzi-worthy wonders that will encourage the most persnickety salad-snubber to dig in!
4 Tips for Sensational Salads
Preparation: Rather than using lettuce in the usual way (chopped, torn or shredded), consider different ways to incorporate leaves. Romaine, Bibb and kale leaves make nice little bowls to pile up other salad ingredients while an iceberg wedge is so old-school, it’s trendy again. Try wilting or grilling lettuce, or not even using lettuce at all. Prep other fixings in unique ways -- use a spiralizer on zucchini, cucumbers and apples; grate carrots and parsnips; or make pretty veggie garnishes for that fancy-restaurant feel.
Colors: Eating a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables covers more bases in the quest for the optimal intake of vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients. Brightly hued produce can also turn a blank canvas salad into a work of art – add festively-colored fruit and vibrant vegetables for maximum edible appeal. Experiment with eye-popping and unique ingredients such as watermelon radishes, purple cauliflower, or tri-colored tomatoes.
Plating: There’s no wrong way to plate a salad, but why not make it more fun? Layer salad ingredients in a mason jar that can be conveniently toted to work or school. Instead of a big bowl, serve salads family-style on a large platter for maximum visual appeal. Other outside-the-bowl ideas include filling ingredients into a scooped our pineapple, cantaloupe, or avocado or using large slices of watermelon, jicama, or squash to make a “plate” for salad.
Dressings: Make the eating experience of any salad more memorable with a fresh and delicious dressing like Chunky Bleu Cheese or Homestyle Ranch. Match the flavor profile to the toppings or go for a bold and unexpected flavor collision with one of the many unique vinaigrettes or healthy Greek-yogurt dressings available today in the refrigerated section of your market’s produce department.
Today’s Strawberry Blue Cuke Salad uses bright strawberries combined with Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing to command attention – the sweet-meets-bold pairing is indescribably delicious. Snap peas add a fun crunch that my kids love and the spiralized raw cucumber “noodles” are always a hit. I am almost addicted to using the spiralizer on fruits and veggies to create imaginative, low-carb dishes. However, if you don’t have one, simply use a vegetable peeler on the cucumber to make long “ribbons.” And, look at all the plating options – a mason jar, a family-style platter, a single-serve bowl! Enjoy!