May 25, 2013
A Tossed Salad In May
May is National Salad Month! That’s right; the food that many detest simply because of its reputation as good for your health and bland is celebrated all this month. As CNN’s eatocracy explains, “Salads often get a bad rap for being too healthy or boring. While they might be the former, they definitely do not need to be the latter. Salads are actually a great way to use up leftovers and can make a balanced meal that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.” I am really excited about celebrating the salad because next to eggs and ice cream, salads are my favorite foods!
Salads can come in many shapes, sizes, forms, and with a surfeit of ingredients. They are an easy and healthy way to eat a balanced meal. By adding nuts, berries, cheeses, herbs, and even meats, a salad can become the taste bud’s dream, not to mention provide us with the nutrients we need to be healthy and well-nourished.
CNN provided some great tips to help people think outside of the box on the salad, to spice it up, if you will. I have added some of my own commentary to the tips below each one to provide even more guidance and salad inspiration.
No offense to iceberg lettuce, but there are oh so many more options out there for a good salad. Arugula gives a nice peppery bite, kale and other greens are earthy, and baby spinach is so tender you’ll forget you’re eating a salad.
I personally love to have spinach in my salad because of the vitamins it provides. Plus, it has a spicier taste that really adds depth to any salad. Spinach is particularly good when paired with berries and blue cheeses.
Stick to the season. No good tomatoes around? Try using roasted butternut squash instead. A seasonal salad is packed with flavor.
Plus, when we eat the foods that are in season, we often support more local farms, and isn’t that always a good thing?
There’s room for protein too: chicken, steak, pork, tuna and tofu all go well dressed up with greens and make a salad a full meal.
So many disdain the salad because of its lack of protein, but for meat eaters, adding meat to a salad really livens up the flavor. For those of us non-meat eaters, tofu adds such an interesting texture to the greens and veggies. It is definitely worth trying. And don’t forget the eggs! Eggs and salad compliment each other masterfully.
Keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve. Dressing the salad too early will leave you with limp greens.
And no one wants to eat a soggy salad!
Same goes for overdressing. It’s much easier to add more than take away.
When people add too much dressing, the flavor of the dressing overwhelms the other savory tastes. Let each flavor compliment the other.
Dressings don’t have to be complicated: a bit of olive oil and lemon juice shaken up together in a jar works perfectly. For added flavor try using a jam jar that’s empty but still got bits of jam (flavor) in it.
Enough said, here. And what a great idea with the jam jar.
If you’re taking a salad for lunch, put all the cut-up ingredients in the bottom of your container and your greens on top. This will help keep everything crisp.
With just a quick shake of the container, the ingredients will toss themselves and make for delightfully varying tastes.
That extra bit of quinoa or brown rice? Toss a handful in your salad; it’ll help beef up the protein and fiber content. Same goes for roasted veggies.
Plus adding any of these will really add to the texture of the salad so that texture people can enjoy a variety of consistencies. It just makes it fun for your tongue.
Even salads need seasoning – don’t forget about the salt and pepper.
Or even a little bit of rosemary, sage, or thyme.
Toasted nuts add a nice bit of crunch to a salad. Add them in last as they’ll get soggy easily. Spiced pecans or roasted salted pistachios are a good place to start.
I also love almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Yum. Yum.
Pick a cheese that packs a punch; herbed goat cheese, blue cheese or gorgonzola all come in crumble form these days and work well in salads.
Who doesn’t want cheese in salad? Again, do not add so much that it overwhelms the other flavors. Rather, let the cheese enhance the flavors already present.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to make a great big salad in commemoration of National Salad Month.
Image Credit: Meelena / Shutterstock