Elevate Your Salads to Awesome! Salad Making 101

I’m a shameless food Instagrammer. salad

That’s right. I take photos of my food, layer them with shitty color-warping filters, and litter my Instagram and Facebook feed with them.

(I’ll wait while you google, “How to block people on FB.”)

But it’s not one-sided. I get all kinds of great recipe ideas from other people. I follow many fitness pages on Facebook. I need motivation just like the rest of y’all, and I am always on the prowl for healthy food ideas! 

And unless your food looks like something your dog just yarped up (walk away from the Velveeta cheese, people), I’ll be the one commenting, “WANT. Recipe please!”

But it always makes me laugh when I see a photo of something as simple as sliced fruit, and someone says, “Can you send me the recipe for this?  Thanks!!!!!” without taking care to notice that it’s, um, SLICES OF FRUIT. And always with wayyyy too many exclamation points!!!!!


(Huh. That was rather satisfying.)

And then there are the requests for salad “recipes.”

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Guys.  GUYS.  It’s a SALAD.
Lay a bed of greens, put shit on it, and eat it. It’s not rocket science.

But since I’m co-dependent and want to be all things to all people, here is my go-to salad “recipe.”
I’m here for you.
I’ll give you what you need.

Read on, learn, and eat good salad, shall we?


I now present to you…. the fundamentals of a creating a fabulous salad.

No, iceberg does not count, and no, not even if it’s sliced in a giant-ass wedge.
No one knows how to deal with that, and I don’t know whether I think restaurants who charge upwards of $8 for that shit are brilliant or in need of a Yelp lashing.
I’m talking about greens.

And the first rule of greens is they should be GREEN. DARK  or VIBRANT green. Because they contain more vitamins, and more importantly, make you look like you know what the hell you’re doing (even if you don’t).

The second rule of greens: they shouldn’t come in a bag. If that’s all you can get, fine, but you know half of it will be slimy before you even open it, so don’t do it.  It won’t kill you to wash some leafy greens. 

Kale Squash Saute

Pronounced herb as in /urb/, not Herb as in your uncle who belches at the table.
Take some basil, cilantro, parsley, or oregano, chiffonade it like a pro, and sprinkle it in.
It’ll make people’s taste buds wake up and go, “Say Huh?” In a good way.

Any vegetables work. The typical suspects – carrots, cucumber, tomatoes – will earn you a “Salad, cool thanks.”
Throw something a little less expected on there – cauliflower, broccoli – and now you’re getting somewhere.

Hard vegetables like beets or parsnips can work just fine if grated. And if you really want to up your game, practice different methods of cutting vegetables such as julienne, brunoise, and macedoine. (No, I don’t know how to pronounce the last two, but you can bet I’ll say my sure-to-be-massacred pronunciations AS IF I DO.)

When thinking about vegetables, I often use color as my guide. I like contrast, and I like a variety of colors on my salads. Presentation IS important!

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Not too much, but a light touch of sweetness mixed into an otherwise savory dish is magical. Trust me on this.
Citrus segments or berries work wonders in a salad, apples and pears and other delicate fruits work nicely (but should be added last minute as they brown quickly), and dried fruit can work in a pinch.

Make a meal of it and add protein. Sliced or diced pre-cooked meats of any kind work well, arranged neatly on top like you know what you’re doing. Extra points if the meat was grilled and has grill marks – and grill flavor!
Nuts or seeds can be sprinkled sparingly. Fancy those up by candying them in a bit of warmed butter & brown sugar, but only if you’re feeling indulgent. Or trying to impress someone.
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced into rounds and placed in a pattern, make me swoon.
Cheese is fantastic on a salad, but add it last minute lest it get funky.

……And finally, to dress or not to dress?
(By dress I mean toss the salad with dressing before serving, not whether or not you should show up to dinner naked.)

Basically, this is a formality. You can dress the salad before serving, but you might consider if anyone has specific dietary needs, or even taste preferences.
If you think it’s uncouth to flop bottled dressings on the table, pour them into small bowls with spoons for a nice presentation. BOOM – fancy schmancy.
If you’re serving buffet-style, the salad dressing bottles will fit in nicely with the bottle of hot sauce.

Because you know you’re gonna serve up some hot sauce.

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Oh, and if you’re going to dress the salad, for cripe’s sake use a light touch.  Too much and your greens will droop. 

(Hahaha, I said your greens will droop.)

Ok fine, now you’re on a roll and want to whip up your own dressing.
Look at you working the salad
like a boss.
Let’s do this then!
I’m up for it if you are.

The basic strategy is an oil, a vinegar, and salt.
Mustard is a favorite addition (any kind but the yellow hotdog-topper).
Finely-minced herbs, and garlic, pressed, are always winners.
Add sugar or honey if you like a little sweetness.

Whisk and taste.
Modify, whisk and taste. 

Repeat until satisfied you’ve got the county fair blue ribbon winner.

But if improvising makes you twitchy, here are 3 amazeballs dressing recipes.


Lime Honey-Mustard – Whisk well

¼ cup white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped finely (can use onion or garlic)
2 TBS cilantro, chopped
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lime juice plus some grated zest
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper


Thug Kitchen, everyone!

Caesar – Mix in blender
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 TBS grated Parmesan
1 TBS each olive oil
1 TBS water
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove
4 anchovies

Vinaigrette – Whisk well
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 bottle diced pimento, drained
3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1 TBS fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
3 TBS green onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

NOW….. go forth and make great salad. :::fist bump:::

AND, have a Quickie! (Always with the Quickies!)

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