Salads have come a long way in the past few years. Here at the Oldways Vegetarian Network, where we’re invested in helping people put more plants on their plates, we’re excited to see some new ideas take root in home kitchens and restaurants. To our way of thinking, a salad is just about the best thing you can eat, provided that it is built with ﬂavor, texture, and balanced nutrition in mind. That means a fresh and visually appealing selection of foods including your choice of greens, vegetables (raw, roasted, and/or pickled), sprouts, fruits (fresh and/or dried), herbs, and proteins such as tofu, beans, seeds, nuts, seafood, eggs, or cheese.
Here are a few ideas to help you with your salad planning now, as National Salad Month comes to a close, and beyond. (May is also National Mediterranean Diet Month, a second great reason to think about new ways to make salads central to your daily meals.)
Use Up Those Herbs!
Prevent parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and other herbs from aging ungracefully in your refrigerator by getting into the habit of adding them to your salads while they’re still fresh and green. Rinse, dry, give them a quick chop and toss them in. Or, add them to olive oil and let sit for about 30 minutes to add extra ﬂavor to your dressing.
Add a Dollop of Dip.
Hummus, guacamole, salsa, and tzatziki make great dips with veggies, chips or crackers, and they also can add great ﬂavor to your salad. Add about a tablespoonful in place of dressing and toss lightly.
Spoon on Some Whole Grains.
Build your salad and then garnish it with a spoonful or two of cooked whole grains such as quinoa, farro, or black or red rice. The grains have a nice way of settling into the greens, and adding a bit of ballast. Try some popped popcorn, too! Click here to see the recipe for Red Oak Lettuce with Spiced Popcorn, Drunken Cherries, and Goat Gouda developed by Mindy Fox in her book, Salads: Beyond the Bowl.
Make Your Salad in a Jar
Explore this portable lunch idea through the pages of the new book, Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella. What could be easier? Put a little dressing in the bottom of a glass mason jar, add chopped onions, carrots, cukes or other vegetables that beneﬁt from a little pickling, then top with lettuce and other salad ingredients. When you’re ready to eat, simply shake the jar to distribute the dressing.
Look for Salad Restaurants.
Cropping up all over the US, these new restaurants invite customers to order custom salads from long lists of ingredients. It also gives rise to a new job title – a “salad tosser” puts everything together for you as you watch. Some restaurants oﬀer the option of stuﬃng your salad ingredients in a wrap if you wish. Click here to see the menus from Sweet Green and Tossed, two examples of this new breed. And be on the lookout for a salad restaurant opening in your city or town soon!
How Do Dietitians Make a Salad?
Oldways recently hosted our Fourth Annual Supermarket Dietitian Symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona, where one of the lunches was a Make-Your-Own Salad Bar. Oﬀerings included baby spinach, Romaine hearts, wild arugula, mixed greens, cottage cheese, avocado egg salad, shredded carrots, beans, and tuna, among other ingredients. Here’s a look at some of the salads our dietitian guests built for lunch: