So many times you go to a potluck only to find everyone has had the same idea: a green salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and vinaigrette dressing. Boring!
Or maybe you want to throw a nice dinner party for your friends, but unfortunately you spend so much time planning the main meal that when it's time to throw a salad together, you're all out of energy. So once again, you have to settle for the iceberg lettuce.
People often seem to feel compelled or obligated to serve salads to their guests because they are known as healthy food choices and will help you avoid gaining weight. But think about it, what is the point of preparing or serving a salad in the first place if everyone's going to pick politely at a few leaves and then end up leaving most of it on their plate?
If you would like to learn how to prepare delicious, healthy salads that your guests rave about, this article will give you a few great tips. Not only will people start to compliment you on your creative salads, but they will actually ask for second helpings!
First Tip to Making an Interesting Salad: Use a Green Other Than Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce is extremely cheap, which is why most chain restaurants use it in their salads. Somehow this has given people the idea it's the "correct" green to use in a salad. It's also bland and goes with everything, so perhaps it's the "easy" choice. However, that does always not make it the best choice!
Iceberg lettuce is not very high in nutrition, compared to many other green salad vegetables. It's also not particularly tasty, though it does have a nice crunch to it. You are far more likely to get people to enjoy your green salads if you use some original thinking and choose a more unusual green vegetable for your salads.
Some good ideas:
- Spinach makes a really fantastic salad base. Yes, it's a bit pricier than iceberg lettuce, but not by all that much. It goes really well with blue cheese, nuts and fruits of all kinds, and sweet dressings, like raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. It's very high in iron and other minerals and vitamins and will give you a boost of slow-building energy (think of Popeye!).
- Greenleaf lettuce is another popular favorite. It has a soft texture, is packed with iron and Vitamin K, and also goes with pretty much everything.
- Finally, what about a pre-mixed spring salad or Asian salad from the grocery store? Yes, they are a bit boring on their own, but they make a fantastic base and will save you time in the kitchen. You can often save money when you find coupons or last-minute sales on prepackaged bagged salads at the grocery store. Just add some cheese, nuts, fruit or additional veggies like green peppers or spring onions to make them more exciting.
Second Tip to Making an Exciting Salad: Use Tasty Accents like Nuts, Fruits and Cheeses
Fruit is a smart and healthy way to satisfy the human body's natural craving for sweetness. Fruits like blueberries and raspberries also provide necessary antioxidants. Blueberries are known as a superfood because they are so high in antioxidants, in fact! People are often surprised when they encounter fruit in a salad, but it is a time-honored tradition that is popular with French chefs and gourmet foodies everywhere in the world. Some of the best fruits to include in a green salad are:
- strawberries (especially with spinach)
- raspberries (also quite good with spinach; don't use too many as they tend to get soggy fast)
- apples (these go well with hard cheeses like Gouda; slice them thinly or cube them; sprinkle with lemon juice to avoid them turning brown)
Nuts and seeds are not only tasty, they are high in protein. You can include them in a salad chopped or whole. Some of my favorites:
- Chia seeds. Health benefits of chia are well known! These tiny seeds are perfect for adding a boost of protein, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids to a salad. They create a lovely, crunchy texture without altering the flavor. Sprinkle them on after the dressing to ensure they are evenly spread. If you are not sure what chia seeds are, you might want to learn more about the different types of chia seeds.
- Walnuts. These are so yummy in a salad! I like to chop them, but not too finely. You can use walnut oil in your dressing to further accentuate the taste. Remember not everyone likes nuts so check first (and ask your guests about allergies).
- Almonds. A bit more expensive, but so good for you, and how delicious! Look for blanched and slivered almonds at the supermarket. They are really pretty against a darker green like English spinach, or with berries.
A nice cheese will balance the sweetness of the fruit in your salad. Some cheeses you can use in a healthy salad include:
- Cheddar - a bit obvious, and can be overpowering, so don't use it with everything. Goes nicely with apples. Cut into squares.
- Mozzarella. You can find fresh mozzarella in most shops. This is a perfect choice for a salad with lots of ripe, luscious tomatoes. Sprinkle with cracked pepper just before serving.
- Brie. Or any soft cheese, like Camembert. These fancier types of cheese are delicious with strawberries or cranberries, and can make a simple salad the talking point of your meal. Just cut into small pieces. Don't overdo it, as soft cheeses are very rich. Pregnant women should not eat uncooked soft cheeses so do be aware of this.
Hopefully these ideas will help you break out of your traditional approach to salad. In these days when people are becoming more health-conscious, salads are gaining popularity, yet few people know how to make them at home in an enticing way. You can enjoy a salad every night of the week without getting bored if you just follow the tips above. You may find yourself becoming a big fan of salads once you do, so you can always do more research online or check out a book on salads for more information.
And of course, the biggest tip of all is to experiment! Trust yourself, don't be afraid to make mistakes, and have fun. There are really no rules and it's all about what tastes good to you. Salads are not doomed to be boring; they can be the most exciting part of a meal, or even make a full meal in themselves.