When we hear “salad,” some people think lettuce tossed with a few vegetables. But salad can be so much more! In fact, it can easily become an inexpensive main meal with just a few additional ingredients.
Here are some building “blocks” to make a delicious and filling salad:
Greens - Look for dark, leafy lettuces like romaine, spinach or arugula. If you have access to fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano or mint, they add zest and extra nutrients to your salad bowl.
Proteins - Add more satisfaction to your salad with skinless poultry or fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring. Mix in a chopped hard-boiled egg or a small amount cheese (choose lower-fat, lower-sodium cheeses such as mozzarella or Swiss). Toss in a can of chickpeas, kidney, navy or black beans (choose low-sodium or no-salt-added and drain and rinse thoroughly). Unsalted nuts, like peanuts, almonds and walnuts, give your salad extra crunch and a dose of healthy fat. All these protein foods will keep you feeling fuller longer.
Fruits - Slice up fresh fruit that is in season or on sale – choose a rainbow of colors! If you are using fruit canned in juice or frozen, thoroughly drain and pat dry so your leafy greens don’t get soggy. Dried fruits without added sugars are another super salad ingredient.
Extra Veggies - Raw vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower add great crunch and color. Roasted veggies like beets, potatoes or squash add terrific flavor and a little bit of sweetness to any main meal salad.
Grains - Warm or cold whole grains add bulk and satisfaction. Try whole wheat couscous, barley, quinoa, bulgur or wild rice. To save money, look for whole grains in the bulk aisle of your grocery store. Whole wheat pastas are also an inexpensive way to bulk up any basic salad.
Dressings - With oil, vinegar and spices in your pantry, you are minutes away from a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing. Jazz it up with tasty ingredients like chopped fresh herbs; diced veggies with lots of flavor, like onions, garlic or scallions and/or a squeeze of citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime.) Experiment by adding small amounts of those add-ins to the following vinaigrette recipe, taste testing as you go.
Easy vinaigrette recipe:
Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil or canola oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and ¼ teaspoon ground mustard. Add a dash or two of black pepper and toss into a salad for four or more people.
Last reviewed 1/2015