Not that salads ever go out of style, but the farmers’ markets are currently bursting with greens, making me deem this salad season. While side salads definitely offer a green counterpoint to whatever else you’re eating, they can be standalone meals — if you know what to add. If you’re looking to turn your salad into more than just a side, follow these steps to make it into a meal.
1) Start with greens: Try to vary your greens for different textures and nutrition. Romaine gives a nice crunch, while Boston lettuce is soft and buttery. A dark leafy green like kale or Swiss chard will boost the vitamin A and K content of your salad — just slice it into fine ribbons.
2) Layer on the vegetables: Don’t just stop at lettuce. To make this into a power salad, you need variety. Dice or shred extra veggies: Carrots, celery, radishes, tomatoes, beets, cucumber, sprouts and peppers are all great choices. Go for a variety of colors and textures.
3) Pump it up with protein: While all those veggies will give your salad filling fiber, lean protein will give it even more staying power. You have lots of options: Leftover grilled chicken, steak or salmon, canned tuna or sardines, hard-boiled eggs, beans, tofu or tempeh all work.
4) Drizzle on some healthy fats: Some of the vitamins and phytochemicals — health-promoting compounds — in vegetables are fat-soluble. That means you’ll absorb them better if you eat those veggies with some fat. Go for an olive oil-based homemade salad dressing (bottled dressings tend to be loaded with sugar and salt). And/or add some nuts, seeds or avocado.
Try Giada’s Halibut and Chickpea Salad to see how to put it all together.