How to Build a Better Salad

It’s official. Summer is here and during the summer season salads are often what is for dinner around our table. Often I look in the fridge, see what’s on hand and toss it all together with my favorite dressing. Sometimes I build the salad around what types of greens we have or around what we have for leftovers.  I’m not into little side salads that leave you hungry and looking for more. I’m talking about building tasty and totally satisfying meals. Below are my never-fail steps to building a better salad, plus three great salad dressing recipes. Enjoy!

How to Build a Better Salad

Greek salad.Grab Some Greens

I usually use 2 to 3 different types of greens. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Romain and baby greens are my go-to all-purpose base greens.
  • Spinach is earthy and adds nice texture to any salad.
  • Arugula adds a spicy pepper flavor and tasted great with fresh or dried fruits.
  • Kale is a hearty filler and best enjoyed “massaged” with olive oil and a pinch of salt before adding other ingredients.
  • Butter lettuce is tender and tastes great with fresh herbs.

Pile on the Veggies

I am generous with the amount of veggies I add to my salads.  Tomatoes (I know it’s a fruit), cucumber, carrots, colorful peppers and zucchini are always great choices.  Radishes add a little zip and raw cabbage adds color and texture. When choosing veggies I go for color and crunch!

Bulk It Up

If you are making the salad as a meal add some hearty fillers. If you’re a vegetarian avocado, black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, roasted squash and even potatoes “beef” up any salad. For non-veggies:  hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, seared tuna are nice choices for summer salads.

Add the Toppers

My husband jokes that our salads are mostly toppers and it’s true; I love toppers.  Toppers add flavor, crunch and character to your salads. Nuts and seeds make great toppings. My favorites are toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds. Other great choices are fresh or dried fruit, nuts, cheese and fresh herbs.

Olive oil.Dress it Up

The final touch is simply adding your favorite dressing. Try one of these three dressing recipes and let me know what you think.



3 Dressings You’ll Love

Basic Balsamic

Makes 1 cup

  • In a bowl whisk together
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite herb – rosemary, basil, cumin, parsley or tarragon are good choices (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ol’ Stand By

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice – feel free to substitute any citrus like orange or lime juice.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

After your salad is made,  squeeze fresh lemon juice (or pour other citrus juice) over the greens, and drizzle on extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss gently until salad is mixed.

Strawberry-Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup strawberries, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend together the strawberries, balsamic vinegar and honey. Then slowly pour in olive oil until the dressing is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipes inspired by Experience Life Magazine. Click here for more great dressings.

Wishing You Vibrant Living!