Contributed Post: Tired of the same old salads? Ready to shake things up with some inventive ideas? Making salads can be a lot more fun than simply throwing together a few greens and stale veggies from your crisper drawer.
With some creative thinking and these innovative tips, you’ll be able to reinvent the way you make salads and create an exciting meal that will tantalize your taste buds! From using unusual ingredients to mastering unique flavor combinations, learn how to give your salads a new twist.
Master Flavor Combinations to Make Salads More Fun
Exploring new flavor combinations is a great way to make salads more exciting. Start by combining fruits and vegetables for a burst of sweetness—like adding blueberries, oranges, and peppers to a spinach salad with a parmesan vinaigrette. The sweetness of the fruit and the salinity from the parmesan makes a mouth-watering combination!
Or, try something savory, sweet, and tangy, like caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, pecans, and feta cheese. Combining different, yet complementary flavors lights up multiple areas of your palate, making each bite taste deeper and more well-rounded.
You can also explore global flavors for an exotic flair. Use ingredients like kimchi cabbage or edamame and an Asian-inspired miso ginger dressing to switch up your standard go-to’s.
Don’t forget classic combos, either. Salty bacon bits, savory roasted sweet potatoes, and romaine lettuce is always a crowd-pleaser! By combining different flavors and textures together, you can create delicious salads that are anything but boring.
Get Creative With Ingredients
Think beyond the typical greens and veggies! Be adventurous and incorporate unique ingredients like roasted beets, charred corn, crispy chickpeas, dried fruit, avocado slices, quinoa, pickled onion, chips, venison jerky, edible flowers, smoked salmon, spiced or candied nuts—you name it, the list goes on and on.
Use these unexpected ingredients as a base for a salad or to add touches of finishing flavor. For instance, try adding crunchy pumpkin seeds or pomegranate arils to a romaine-kale mix with apples and feta cheese. Or, top your healthy coleslaw with nuts like almonds or walnuts for an added crunch.
You can also stir in some carbs like pasta, rice, or couscous to turn your salad into a full meal. This trick also makes salads a little more palatable for pickier eaters. I love to use bow-tie noodles with marinated artichokes, spinach, basil, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, chopped pepperoni (or salami), and an Italian vinaigrette for an easy and hearty Italian pasta salad.
Don’t forget about seeds and herbs. Basil leaves and cilantro are great additions for a pop of color and add so much extra flavor. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and even chia seeds add a little crunch and a lot of health benefits!
Don’t Forget About Dressings
A great dressing makes all the difference in a salad—it ties the flavors together and adds an exciting element of spicy, sweet, or savory flavors (or sometimes multiple flavors!)
It’s good to practice cooking basics like a simple homemade vinaigrette or ranch-style dressing, but don’t be afraid to get creative! You can mix up unusual combinations like honey mustard and balsamic, or blend creamy avocado with garlic and lime juice for a unique twist.
Try making your own mayonnaise from scratch, too—adding things like chipotle peppers, lime zest, roasted garlic, or fresh herbs into the mix makes an aioli that doubles as a fabulous dressing.
And, if you want to give your dressings a tangy kick, try adding some citrus juice or apple cider vinegar. You don’t need to go full-out with the spice, but something a little sour can help cut through fattier elements and lighten up your palate with flavor that takes your salads to the next level.
Fun Salads Need a Fun Presentation
The presentation of your salad is just as important as the ingredients themselves. Instead of throwing everything together in a bowl, try arranging your ingredients artfully on a plate or platter for an eye-catching display.
For extra visual interest, use contrasting colors and textures, like placing sliced apples and cucumbers against a bed of dark greens. You can even make salad “rolls” by rolling up lettuce leaves stuffed with interesting ingredients like nuts, fruits, and cooked meats.
Consider cutting your veggies and simple ingredients into creative or unusual shapes. You can slice cucumbers or radishes very thinly and roll them up to look like little flowers. Or, use a cookie cutter to slice melons or avocados into small, fun shapes! There are so many options if you just take some time to get creative with it.
Having a party? Make a salad “bar” by laying out tons of different options—everyone can build their own salad according to what they enjoy the most. Be sure to offer different flavor profiles and choices between main elements, like meats, lettuce, and dressings.
Reinvent Salads as a Meal Everyone Can Enjoy
By using these innovative tips to make salads more fun, you can reinvent the way you enjoy veggies. Start transforming your simple salads by exploring new, complementary flavor combinations, getting creative with ingredients, and making fancier dressings! With all of these new ideas in mind, you’ll be sure to enjoy a delicious meal every time.
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