There’s a lot that can go wrong with a salad. In theory, it’s simple: toss a bunch of greens into a bowl, dress, toss and eat. But, if you’re looking to make a salad that you actually want to eat ― one that will make the fact that you’re having lunch at your desk, again, a little less sad ― you need to put some more thought into this healthy option.
A great salad is all about balance: the balance of greens to fixin’s, the balance of super-healthy ingredients with not-so-healthy ingredients, and, most importantly, the balance of flavors and textures. For every soft ingredient, you want to add crunch; for savory ingredients you’ll want to counter with something sweet, and so on. If that’s confusing to you, fear not, we’ve broken it down for you in really easy-to-understand terms.
Because we should all eat better salads in 2017, even if they’re just eaten at our desks ...
Here are the salad rules to live by:
1. Add something sweet ― like fruit. Fresh fruit, such as pomegranate seeds, pears or even apples, adds a nice touch. Dried fruit works well too, because you can store it in pouches in your desk drawer. But fruit isn’t the only sweet addition you can add. Candied nuts are a serious treat crumbled on top.
2. Get creative with your protein. Most folks resort to cheese and chicken as salad add-ins. Those are good options, it’s true, but there’s a world of possibilities out there. Like beans, lentils and tofu, for starters. Or nuts. Not to mention all the kinds of cheeses you could add in place of your go-to, like ricotta salata, gruyere or even cottage cheese. Remember, you’re allowed to double down on protein, too ― like, cheese, chicken AND beans ― that makes a salad feel extra special.
3. Introduce some tang ― we’re talking pickled veggies... or even fruit. You can get bold with kimchi, or think small with capers. The surprising vinegar flavor will make you feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality salad.
4. Add some crunch ― like nuts and seeds. The usual almonds and sunflower seeds are a nice addition, but adding something a little more unusual like sesame seeds, macadamia nuts or chia seeds can make for an interesting eating experience. Even snack foods can work in a pinch, like popcorn, pita chips, or wontons.
Try these four tricks and see how it transforms your sad desk salad. This is your lunch folks, make it great!