5 Ways to Take Your Salad from Boring to Bursting with Flavor

After a winter of surviving on boring salads that basically consisted of grocery store lettuce+carrots+cucumbers+ranch, I'm ready for some fresh locally grown ingredients and ideas to get me out of my salad rut.

Here are my tried and true ingredients to add pizzazz to salads that actually make me excited about eating another bowl of greens!

1- Add Herbs

Herbs bring a burst of flavor to your bowl.

Here are some options:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Cilantro microgreens
  • Dill
  • Garlic scallions
  • Green onions
  • Parsley

2- Add Fruit

Fruit is my favorite ingredient to add to salads and it's a great way to add sweetness without needing sugar in your salad dressing.  Depending on the other ingredients and the salad dressing I'm using, I like to add:

  • Apples pair well with meat or cheese on salads.
  • Blueberries go well with poppyseed dressing.
  • Grapes work well with Italian salads.
  • Mangoes complement southwest flavors.
  • Oranges are great with Asian salads.
  • Strawberries work well with many different combinations.

Blueberries go well with poppy seed dressing and crunchy cashews on this salad.

Sweet strawberries complement the bright red beet kraut along with crunchy pine nuts on this salad.

Add Crunch

Here are some great low carb options for adding crunch without the typical croutons:

  • Pecans, almonds, or cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Tortilla chips for Southwest flavored salads (I really like the grain free Siete brand)
  • Whisps Cheese Crisps (baked cheese snacks made of only cheese in a variety of flavors).  They have a texture similar to croutons.

Pine nuts add the perfect crunch on this Italian salad and hard boiled eggs pack in some protein.

Parmesan Whisps contribute a savory crunch with a texture like croutons on this salad.

Pecans pair well with the strawberries and cucumbers on this salad topped with lemon poppy seed dressing.

Add Colorful Flowers

Edible flowers don't add much flavor, but their contribution of color makes a huge difference in whether your salad looks appealing.

Glory Garden will have edible flowers for sale later this season, but until then, dandelions and purple violets are abundant around Sioux Falls (or is it just our yard?).  Dandelion petals and purple violets are both edible (but make sure they don't come from a chemically-treated lawn).

Yellow flower petals are like edible confetti on this salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing.

Flowers add a rainbow of color to this cheerful salad.

Add Protein

Protein is super important if you want your salad to be satisfying and keep you feeling full longer.  Here are some options:

  • Leftover chicken (such as seasoned grilled chicken)
  • Leftover salmon
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Shredded cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan
  • Crumbled cheese, such as feta or blue cheese
  • Cooked quinoa

Leftover salmon is paired with mangoes on this salad.

Grilled chicken tops this salad with a portion of protein.

    Please share your favorite salad ingredients and ideas in the comments below!

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