I’m sorry but “because they have good salad” is not a valid reason to convince me to try a new restaurant. I’ve had friends tried to lure me before with the promise of a great salad, and they fail every time. I’ve never been a huge fan of salad because many of the ones I’ve had are hoity-toity. I’ve seen plenty of fancy ones filled with exotic ingredients that I normally wouldn’t associate with the salad. And if it’s just bare lettuce and vegetables, it just doesn’t excite my taste buds in any way.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to salad, and I wouldn’t consider most of the ones I’ve had to be “real food”. They’re mostly filler when I could be eating something a lot more thrilling.
I’ve recently gone on a mission to make salad more palatable. The first thing I did was to throw health out the window. One of the problems I’ve had in the past was salads that were intended to be good for you. More often than not, this served as a handicap for true flavor. I know how important it is to maintain a balanced diet, but for the sake of this article let’s just concentrate on flavor. Once I decided that my salad didn’t have to represent the pinnacle of health, it freed me up to be more creative.
Use something other than lettuce – let’s face it, lettuce is boring. It’s something we’ve had a million times before. I’ve recently discovered other greens that work well in salad, and there’s nothing stopping you from combining them. I really like spinach, and I find it works well with a lot of other elements – and you don’t have to limit yourself to a straight spinach salad. And if you’re going to go with lettuce, then make sure it’s as crisp as possible, and don’t forget to dry it properly!
A wide variety of goodies – I consider the main green to be my base, and every other vegetable to be a “goodie”. A real salad in my opinion should include all of the following: tomato, cucumber, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and green pepper. Once you have those goodies added, go ahead and experiment with others. There are lots of ways you can spruce up an ordinary salad with the simple addition of a different type of vegetable.
Nuts and berries – I’ve had fancy salads that feature nuts and berries and for the most part, I’m not a huge fan. However, there is one type of nut that I can add to almost any salad with great success: walnuts. There’s just something earthy about them that gives me a great crunch for the top of my salad. It’s never overpowering but you can tell it’s there, and there are plenty of other nuts you can try as well.
Cheese – the main reason I like Greek salad is because of the cheese, but there’s no reason why you have to limit Feta to this type of salad. I’ve used it for general salads, and I’ve also had success with cheddar.
Eggs – whenever I make a salad, I also make sure to boil at least three eggs. After 10 minutes, I’ve got perfect eggs for the top of my salad. I’ve got a handy little metal cutter that slices my eggs in one motion. It’s a popular feature of spinach salad, but you can use it for other types as well.
Meat – one of the main ingredients that turns a salad into “real food” in my opinion is some kind of meat. Without it, I can never consider a salad to be a full meal. But all it takes is a well grilled piece of chicken or salmon, and I’ll be one happy camper. If I’m making a side salad, then I’ll throw shrimp or ham into the mix.
Try new Dressings – remember that when I said I wasn’t going to worry about health with my salad? Dressing is the one area where people get into trouble. Some people are still clueless to the fact that dressing is loaded with calories and fat. So if you didn’t know that, now you do. There are health experts that recommend putting the dressing on the side, but again, I’m not really worried about that. For me, I need a great salad dressing with a little bit of kick. My favorites are homemade vinaigrette, Italian, thousand Island, and Russian. The key is to try a large variety without ever settling on just one. Better yet, make your own dressing because that’s when you can fine-tune it to your own tastes.