Let’s be real. I and many of you work more than 40 hours per week. We love our jobs, we love our families, we love the food (!) but from time-to-time, “the holidays” sounds like one more thing we may or may not be able to love, get into, and get to well. Which totally, totally stinks.
At first, this totally bummed me out. I refuse to bring chips and salsa anywhere! Not when I know I could make the salsa, make the chips, goddammit. Yet in daydream land, yes, why yes I COULD make whatever I want! In this instance, though, reality calls for simplicity. And bringing my nightly meal of brown rice and kale may not exactly go over well.
For salad success, I suggest you stick to these rules. Then your celebration will be ON without the headache!
The best salads only have 3-4 ingredients, and are topped with a stellar dressing.
2. Quality over Quantity
Splurge on good greens instead of just buying as many vegetables as possible. Then buy 2-3 additional veggies that you know you love on their own. That way, you can vary the salad, and in the worst case scenario you can use the veggies for something else. (I’m the queen of turning my leftover salad goodies into stir-fry!)
With your delicious greens as a base, use nuts, seeds, and superfoods to amp up the nutritional value without affecting the flavor too much. In particular, I add frozen organic peas and hemp seeds to almost every salad. (Peas are SO GOOD FOR YOU.) Hemp seeds, chia, sesame, pumpkin...these are all so great, too.
4. Oldies are Goodies
That quarter cup of roasted potatoes that you just couldn’t bring yourself to eat or trash last night? The 5 lb of grapes that you found at the market but can’t fathom eating all of? These are your gems! Simple leftovers and refrigerator overages are a salad’s best friend. Don’t be afraid to use them!
It can be really tempting to put all of your favorites in one salad, but I’ve found that the best salads have only one “star.” That rule can apply to an ingredient, a “protein,” a texture, or the dressing, but generally speaking you only want one ingredient that’s prominent in flavor and pizazz. Aim for balance, and you’ll always win!
6. Dress for Success
If your dressing doesn’t wow you, your salad experience won’t either. I always make my own dressing based on this very simple guideline: equal parts each of my favorite oil, vinegar, and variable, a sprinkle of salt, lots of pepper! The “variable” is my favorite condiment, sweetener, or jam at the time. Think orange juice, tahini, balsamic reduction, preserves, maple syrup, mustard, sesame oil. If you start simple, over time you’ll learn how to bedazzle it to your own liking without any loss! If making the dressing scares the pants off of you, then yes, you can buy your favorite bottled variety! No one will judge you. Just watch out for added sugars that contain no benefit… “grape juice concentrate,” for example.
To Salad Success and Happy Celebrating!
Comment below, and tell me what your favorite salad combinations are!