Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Your go-to bowl of greens may be a good salad, but is it the best salad?! Some of the best cooking tricks can be applied to salad making. Here’s 5 game “best salad” game changers that will help you bring your salad game to a new level.
1. Season it
We season everything else, so why skip your salad? A pinch of coarse sea salt and a few grinds of pepper enhance the flavors in salads, too. But don’t stop there! Spices can amp up the natural sweetness of vegetables both raw and cooked. Try this homemade toasted spice blend on salads to turn a ho-hum salads into the best salad with grilled shrimp, sprinkle nutritional yeast on slaws for a savory boost, or herby-tart za’atar blend on a cucumber tomato salad with feta.
Err on the side of underdressing your salads. You need less dressing than you think, and you can always add more, but you can’t remove dressing from a soggy salad. As a general rule, add ½ tablespoon of dressing, gently toss, taste, and add more until the ingredients are very lightly coated. Another option for chronic over-dressers, pour out small amounts of dressing (about 1 tablespoon per person) into a small ramekin and dip your fork into it before each bite of undressed salad.
3. Hands on
Toss your salads with your hands in a large bowl, this helps coat all the ingredients with seasonings and dressing and it’s gentler on tender greens. If you’d rather not get your hands dirty, use kitchen tongs to even toss things together.
4. Balance textures
Try to choose a balance of elements – fluffy leaves, creamy elements like avocado or cheese, crunchy items like nuts or seeds, something substantial like roasted squash, meat, seafood and juicy/crisp elements like apple, tomato, or celery. And remember, we eat with our eyes, so arrange elements artfully for a more satisfying meal. Click here for a handy chart on how to build a well composed, best salad recipes ever.
5. Herbs are salad leaves, too.
Herbs are a mainstay of salad dressing, but they are also delicious by themselves tucked into leafy salads. Fresh, tender herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, basil, parsley, and mint blend right in with lettuce plus they add little pops of fresh flavor that are unexpected and make salads more interesting. Make sure to remove any tough or stringy stems…concentrating on the juicy leaves instead.
Now that you’ve mastered our elevated salad tips from a pro, here are the best salad recipes on cleaneating.com now:
Easy, Breezy Summer Salads
What’s for Breakfast? Salad!
New-Fashioned Crab Louie Salad