A step-by-step guide for how to make any homemade salad delicious.
Let’s be honest, homemade salads don’t necessarily have the best reputation. We’ve all pushed a sad pile of greens around a plate once or twice before!
But think about those gourmet salads you can get at a restaurant — pretty delicious, right? We’re here to tell you that you can easily make these beautiful salads right at home.
We’ll teach you one step at a time how to make a delicious, nutritious salad in your own kitchen.
How To Make Any Salad Delicious
Salads are a great staple you can rely on. They’re perfect for work lunches, lazy dinners and can even be used as a side. Once mastered, they’re a quick, convenient way to pack a whole meal into one bowl.
A great dish must have a balance of interesting flavors and textures. Salads are no exception! By the time you finish this article you’ll have the skills and tools you’ll need to create a well-balanced, delicious salad.
Step 1: Use A Base You Actually Enjoy
Yes, when we think about a traditional salad we immediately picture a plate of greens with some vegetables and dressing mixed in. But does every salad have to start with a plate of greens? Absolutely not.
Start with a base you really enjoy. If leafy greens aren’t your style, try a whole grain like farro, quinoa or millet. You can even keep the grain warm for a warm winter salad bowl. Or maybe you’d enjoy a bean-based salad even more – you don’t have to do anything, only choose items you enjoy!
When using greens, be sure to keep things interesting. Instead of reaching for the typical head of ice burg lettuce, try something with a bit more flavor. You can even mix different leafy greens together like baby spinach and arugula or kale and romaine.
Lastly, don’t forget to season your base. While the dressing will introduce some flavor, seasoning your greens with a bit of salt and pepper makes a world of a difference.
Step 2: Use Herbs & Spices
Don’t forget to use herbs and spices in your salad! We always remember to add that touch of basil or dash of pepper to our other favorite recipes, but when it comes to salads we often tend to forget.
Herbs (especially fresh herbs) can add wonderful depth and complexity to your salads, not to mention a boost of nutrients. Try adding some cilantro, basil, chives or parsley to your next homemade salad!
When it comes to spices, choose options that you tend to gravitate towards in other areas of the kitchen. If you like heat, toss in some red pepper flakes or maybe a little cayenne pepper. Or if Greek is more your style, try some dried oregano and thyme instead.
There’s no wrong way to do it. Just play around with some different combinations until you find what works best for you!
Step 3: Make Your Own Dressing
If we’re teaching you how to make a delicious salad at home, we need to touch on the homemade dressing.
A homemade dressing can have a huge impact on the flavor profile of your salad.
If you’re new to making dressings at home, a classic vinaigrette is a great place to start. Olive oil will start off as your base, then add in the vinegar of your choosing (balsamic, red wine, you name it!). Use a three to one ratio of oil to vinegar.
From here, you can add in any little boosts of flavor that sound good to you – dijon mustard, garlic, honey, you name it! If you’re looking for a more concrete place to start, you can use our definitive guide to salad dressings.
Step 4: Think Beyond Dressing For Fat
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I need more than just a salad, no way that will keep me full!”? We’re willing to bet at least once.
There are two things you can do to ensure that your salad is not only delicious but also filling.
First, be sure to use full-fat dressing. Non-fat and low-fat dressings take away the good, healthy fats we’re looking for here. Fat is our primary source of satiety, without it, we’re left hungry, craving-ridden and unsatisfied.
Second, add some additional fat to your salad. You can top it with some sliced up avocado, roasted almonds or maybe even some smoked salmon.
Fat gives a complex, creamy mouthfeel and a boost of flavor, so don’t be afraid to add a bit more on top.
Step 5: Be Sure To Add Some Crunch
You want to ensure your salad has some variety in terms of texture. If the entire salad is soft and soggy, chances are you’re going to get really bored really fast.
Use a mixture of raw and cooked vegetables to add some complexity. The raw vegetables will give some turgor and crunch to the salad while the cooked vegetables will enhance the flavor.
Don’t be afraid to add some crunch on top, too! Roasted nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds are great. You can even add a bit of toasted coconut for a more tropical, summery flavor.
Whatever you choose, just be sure to mix it up. The more uniform the salad is, the quicker you’ll get tired of it.
Step 6: Variety Is Key
I know when I find something I love, I stick with it.
While it’s great to have some trustworthy go-to recipes to rely on, we don’t want to overdo it. Try and switch up your recipes and try new ingredients as much as possible. This will keep you from falling into an inevitable salad rut where you never want to see another salad again.
Simply switching up the dressing or protein source can make it feel like a completely new salad. You can even use pesto as a dressing to give it a thick, creamy texture!
You’re almost ready to start creating your own delicious salads! To help you along the way, here are some of our favorite tools for preparing and storing salads:
Recipes To Try
Now that you’ve got the basics down pat, here are some recipes you can use to test out your skills and get some inspiration!
Connect With Us
Show us your cooking skills on Instagram!
The next time you make a delicious salad at home, share it with us! You can show us by tagging us on Instagram with @nutritionstrippederica and @nutritionstripped or you can share it with the Nutrition Stripped community by tagging #nutritionstripped or #nswellnesscoaching.
We can’t wait to see your delicious salads!