Fustini's Oils and Vinegars

Six Ways to Amp Up Your Salad

Salads. Love them or hate them, they’re a great addition in keeping a healthy and balanced diet. In choosing a healthy lunch or dinner option, or even as a side, these beds of leafy greens can help you get your fill of veggies and essential nutrients.

Yet for most people, comparing our passion for salads may look different than our passion for, say, a flavorful and juicy steak or a tantalizing burger with all the fixings. Salads have sometimes been given a bad rap for not equating to the quality and taste of our other favorite foods.

The truth is, though, salads can be packed with as much flavor and deliciousness as any other dish. It all comes down to your salad creation process. If you’re bored with the standard garden salad of romaine, a few cherry tomatoes and some shredded cheese, it’s time to kick your salad up a notch. While adding a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil is an obvious way to add in flavor to your salad, there are many other salad variations that can add to your healthy and nutrient-packed lunch, dinner or side.

Take a step out of your typical salad pattern and try something new. Get creative. To help you get started, here we share six ways you can amp up your salad making to make it a food all will crave to eat.

1. Change the Base

In making a flavorful salad, it’s important to start with the base. This is the foundation on which all other flavors and ingredients will be added on. And with the variety that’s available, there’s much more to a salad than tasteless iceberg lettuce.

Upgrade your iceberg or romaine to a darker salad basis like baby spinach. Or, add notes of peppery flavor with arugula leaves or types of kale like baby or curly. Add color to your bed of lettuce with red cabbage. Adding variety can be really easy by getting a spring mix or mixed greens bag from the grocery store or your local farmers’ market. With a flavorful base, you’re one step closer to amping up your salad to a new level.

2. Taste the Rainbow

Did you know that eating involves more than just taste buds. In fact, we “eat” with our eyes. This means that what we view as good or appetizing often has a lot to do with how it looks. When it comes to elevating your salad, incorporate additional vegetables and other ingredients of a variety of colors. From the bright orange of shredded carrots to the deep green of kale to a pop of red with halved cherry tomatoes, there are so many ways to incorporate more color into your salad.

Not only does incorporating a variety of colors look better to eat, it also ensures you get those essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Each vegetable, protein source and more brings its own list of nutrients your body needs to thrive. Do your eyes, taste buds and whole body good and incorporate ingredients of varying colors.

Need help in finding the right colors to add to your salad? Here are some ingredients you can include in creating your next salad that reminds you of a rainbow.

  • Red - red peppers, tomatoes, radicchio
  • Orange - sweet potatoes, carrots, orange peppers, dried apricots
  • Yellow - squash, mango, corn
  • Green - salad base, green peppers, green onions, broccoli, asparagus
  • Blue - blueberries
  • Purple - red cabbage, beets, onion
3. Add Protein

To turn your salad into a real meal, add a bit of protein to fill you up right. You can incorporate just about any type of meat, like diced chicken, pulled pork, ground turkey, cubed ham, strips of steak and seafood like salmon. Creating a salad with protein is a quick and easy way to use up your meat leftovers in a new way.

Not a meat eater? Incorporating protein into your salad is still so easy. Add in avocado for a serving of protein and healthy fats. Sauté up some tofu and top your salad with it. Slice your hard boiled eggs and include it in your chopped salad. Any kind of bean, like kidney, black, garbanzo, pinto and more, can also make a great addition.

4. Incorporate Variety

With the simple ingredients included in a salad, there are endless possibilities in creating your kind of salad. Don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients that you may not have thought of putting together before. You never know what you’ll discover. You can also cater your ingredients based on what type of salad you’re going for. For a mediterranean salad, use ingredients like feta cheese, marinated olives, diced cucumber and roma tomatoes. For an asian-inspired salad, use edamame, shredded carrots, diced mango, red and green cabbage and sprinkle on some sesame seeds to finish. For a mexican salad, add in roasted corn, black beans, peppers, onions and tomatoes. Whatever cuisine inspires you, try turning it into a salad.

5. Spice it Up

Salads are far from boring. Turn up the heat on your salad by incorporating a punch of flavor with sauteed peppers and onions. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes before serving. Use a spicy olive oil or balsamic in your vinaigrette, like chipotle oil or peperoncino honey vinegar. Whether your salad has just veggies or with added in fruit to cut the spice, it’s easy to amp up your salads with tuning into your spicy side.

6. Top it All Off With Flavor

The crescendo of a great salad is in the vinaigrette or dressing. You can add any ingredients you want to a salad but what you drizzle on top unites all the flavors together into a complete dish.

Be intentional about what kind of dressing you use. Many store-bought dressings are packed with preservatives and other additives to give it that taste consumers want. However, these dressings can also hide the flavorful components that you worked so hard to incorporate.

When you opt for a vinaigrette in combining a balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, you can enhance those natural flavors that are brought out in the ingredients themselves. Whether citrusy, herby, spicy or sweet, it’s easy to create your own vinaigrette that matches perfectly with your ingredients.

Some of our favorites include Basil-Lime, Caribbean Honey Citrus, Sundried Tomato and more. You can even create a chocolate vinaigrette to add that beloved sweetness to your salad.

Check out this blog article for tips in creating your perfect vinaigrette.

Take Your Salad To New Heights

 

Salads can be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. And with these easy ways to amp up the flavor, salads are far from bland or boring. Try out your own salad creations and find something you absolutely love. Have a combination in mind? Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook pages!

 

 

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