I never, ever, ever, EVER thought that salads would become 1) one of my favorite meals and 2) one of my favorite things to make. Salads used to be the first thing I’d ask someone to bring over if I was hosting a big meal, because I didn’t want to make them and I lacked creative ideas. As my tastes have changed, I’ve found so many combinations of ingredients I love together as a salad. Usually variations of other things I love – taco salad anyone? Chopping can be therapeutic especially given the opportunity to openly cry over onions! Below are the first six salads I made for #julysummersalads. I have so many ideas; the trickiest part this month will be making my portions small enough so that I can make a new salad almost every day.
Most of my salads have 4 elements: fresh, protein, crunch, and dressing – although there are exceptions. The beauty of a salad is that you can make as much or as little as you want. I use leftover veggies and protein and usually make my dressing in small containers for single servings. My dressings are oil + acid + something to help emulsify (thicken & bring the ingredients together, like honey, mustard, peanut butter, mayo or Greek yogurt) + seasonings.
ASIAN SALAD WITH SPICY PEANUT GINGER DRESSING
Mostly veggies, the spicy peanut ginger dressing on this salad gives it a nice kick! Lots of fresh crunch and flavor.
- FRESH: Romaine, broccoli slaw red bell pepper, shredded carrots, edamame, cilantro
- PROTEIN: Shredded pork (chicken works, too)
- CRUNCH: Chopped peanuts
- DRESSING: Peanut butter, fresh grated ginger, olive oil, sesame oil, Tabasco sauce, lime juice, salt
BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD WITH BLEU CHEESE DRESSING
I love all things buffalo. A good buffalo chicken wrap is my weakness – but this salad version is still extremely satisfying, even without crispy fried chicken like a restaurant version.
- FRESH: Romaine, red onion, carrot, tomato
- PROTEIN: Chicken – I used leftover chicken meatballs sauteed in Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo sauce; I would usually use shredded rotisserie chicken or Crispy Baked Buffalo Chicken Fingers from Sally’s Baking Addiction
- CRUNCH: Homemade croutons – cubed bread toasted in butter, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley
- DRESSING: Sour cream, mayo, worcestershire sauce, milk, bleu cheese, salt and pepper
I’m pretty proud of this one. My #1 favorite sandwich is the Cuban sandwich – I order it EVERYWHERE that has a Cuban on the menu. Converted into a salad is less greasy, but still with that carby satisfaction with the homemade croutons. Plus I usually get fries on the side, so this version keeps me away from the fried food!
- FRESH: Romaine, pickles
- PROTEIN: Shredded pork, deli ham, shredded Swiss cheese
- CRUNCH: Homemade croutons
- DRESSING: Dijon mustard, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper
PORK TACO SALAD
My favorite way to use up ANY ingredients on hand – veggies or protein – is to turn them into Something Mexican-ish. This salad was totally a fridge/freezer/countertop clean out, pulled together with some spicy chips and a chipotle lime dressing.
- FRESH: Romaine, red onion, tomato, avocado
- PROTEIN: Shredded pork, crumbled queso fresco cheese
- CRUNCH: Trader Joe’s Chile Lime chips
- DRESSING: Chipotle mustard, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper
CAPRESE PANZANELLA SALAD WITH PESTO CHICKEN
I combined 2 salads I love into one – Caprese (tomato + onion + basil), Panzanella (tomato + onion + bread) and added protein to make it a satisfying, flavorful meal. I marinated chicken breast in pesto, a little balsamic, and white vinegar, and grilled it.
- FRESH: Romaine, red onion, tomato
- PROTEIN: Pesto marinated grilled chicken, mozzarella
- CRUNCH: Homemade croutons
- DRESSING: Mustard (I used a spicy IPA whole grain mustard but dijon works, too), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
After I made my Asian salad, I had leftover broccoli slaw, so I made this recipe for an afternoon snack. The dressing contains mayo, but only a little, and Greek yogurt would work, too. Don’t skip the raisins, or use dried cranberries. The sweetness is perfect with the broccoli.
- FRESH: Shredded broccoli slaw (bag from Trader Joe’s), red onion, golden raisins (ok those are really stale grapes, but whatever)
- PROTEIN: None
- CRUNCH: Sunflower seeds
- DRESSING: Mayo or Greek yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, salt
Six salads in seven days! I think my husband might be sick of them already, but I’m not. And the fresh romaine in my garden is growing faster than I can eat it, so there are many more salads to come this month. What other favorite foods, like the Cuban sandwich, can I make into a salad?