With summer just around the corner and gardens being planted, soon we are going to be up to our ears in fresh, nutritious greens. Salads may sound like a great idea to use your garden fresh produce, but sometimes salads fall flat and lack flavor. Here are 5 steps to making your home grown or market fresh greens into a delicious and satisfying salad at home:
- Choose your base
- They say, “Eat your greens!”. Salads are a perfect way to get more green vegetables into your meals. Remember, the darker the green, the more nutrients.
- Examples of greens you can choose: spinach, kale, arugula, mixed greens, or leafy green lettuce.
- Add substance:
- If you’re wanting to make a satisfying salad that will keep you full for hours, add protein and whole grains. Protein will give a satisfying flavor and taste while the fiber in whole grains will help to slow down digestion and keep you full for longer. Use MyPlate as a template to make sure you’re adding all the food groups to make a balanced meal.
- Examples of proteins: grilled chicken, canned tuna, eggs, chickpeas, black beans, lentils
- Examples of cooked whole grains: quinoa, bulger, brown rice, farro, whole wheat pasta
- There is nothing like biting into a salad and having all the right textures: crunchy, soft, tender, creamy.
- To achieve that satisfying crunch, add seeds, nuts, or croutons. Take it a step further and lightly toast your nuts and seeds for a deeper flavor.
- You can achieve different textures based on how certain ingredients are cooked (raw, boiled, grilled, sautéed, roasted). This one simple change could make a dull salad into a crowd pleasing salad.
- Balance flavor
- The question is, “savory, sweet, or both?”. There are 5 flavors we can perceive: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). If you taste test your salad while you are making it and feel like there is something missing, check in with the 5 flavors and see what you are missing.
- Add a fresh or dried fruit for sweet, add salt to your salad dressing for salty, add lemon juice to your greens for sour and for better iron absorption, focus on adding other vegetables for bitter notes, and add protein, whole grains, or oil in your dressing for a more umami flavors.
- The final step is tossing your perfectly balanced salad with a dressing (aka. Flavor!). This can be as simple as combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar or as creative as blending herbs into a sweet and tangy pesto. The options are limitless!
- Things to watch out for in store bought salad dressings: type of oil, amount of sodium and added sugars, additives, and preservatives. Take this opportunity to make your own healthy salad dressing!
There is no better time to start making delicious salads at home because May is national salad month!