6 Steps for Summer Salad Perfection

>> Friday, July 11, 2014

Remember my 10 Steps for Slow Cooker Perfection? Well, I'd like to follow that same format for these summer salads I've been making lately. See, I'm not a lettuce and raw salad kind of girl. But eating raw veggies is important, so I try to sneak them in however + whenever I can.

// 1. Use a grain as a base.

Before I slice and dice up anything else for my salads, I prepare some type of grain with my normal Sunday meal prep and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Grains add protein, fiber, and substance to a meal -- so it's all good!

Some of my favorites:
  • Israeli couscous
  • Regular couscous 
  • Brown rice
  • Wheat berries
  • Farro
  • Barley
  • Bulgur 
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Quinoa

// 2. Slice fresh veggies.

Again, you can do all of this stuff at the beginning of the week to create custom salads each day. Or you can do it all at once and let marinate in your fridge. Regardless, a good salad needs veggies. I use raw whenever I can, slicing and dicing carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. I make sure to cut them small so I don't have to chew them forever. For what ever reason, that makes me much more likely to munch them up.

As for greens, I use whatever is in our CSA box that week. Spinach, kale, lettuce, even herbs like basil and cilantro. I tend to cut up my leaves small just like the veggies, but if you prefer lots of leafs, do whatever you like best.

// 3. And fruits!

Don't forget tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, raisins, craisins, and all other sorts of sweet, seedy whole foods that will enhance your salad. Plus, for those of you who are less inclined to eat plain veggies -- fruits are a nice gateway with some added flavor dimension.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes are delicious on summer salads!

// 4. Roast or grill the rest.

If you have leftovers from your dinner, use them in your salad! I always tend to make extra roasted veggies that we top our pizzas with or just use as a side for our overall meal. Plus, cooking certain ones -- like asparagus, beets, cauliflower -- means I can add some different stuff I prefer not to eat in the raw. I even set them aside before our meal so I'll know I have enough for the next day. Oh, and roasted sweet potatoes go famously well in salads!

// 5. Don't forget protein + healthy fats.

Great add-ons for your salad include avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, cheese, and all other sorts of healthy sources of fat that we need in our diets. Vegetarians and vegans especially can gain a dose of goodness by adding protein to salads. It transforms the plate into a full meal.

Here are some of my favorite toss-ins:
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Over easy egg (warm salad)
  • Hard boiled egg (cold salad)
  • Cubed tofu
  • Sliced avocado
  • Black olives
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Sliced almonds
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Goat cheese

// 6. Dress for success

Last, but certainly not least, the dressing!

You can go store-bought here or make your own. I really enjoy thick dressings like Miso Ginger Dressing. This thick and creamy Avocado Pesto Sauce goes really well on salads, too. And one of my favorite homemade salad dressings is Sesame Ginger!

Just combine the following ingredients in a dressing container and mix.
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup light vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup water
What's your favorite salad combination? If you don't love salads (I don't!) -- how do you modify them to get all the goodness in? I'd love some more tips!


#1: Stock up on frozen veggies 
#2: Buy greens and actually USE them 
#3: Create simple, go-to meals
#4: Learn to love alternatives
#5: Prep, Make, and Store
#6: Add In: Convenience to your advantage
#7: Eliminate Food Waste
20 Ideas for Make-Ahead Meals

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