Are you more likely to Postmates your favorite chopped salad, or throw together a lame salad and then Postmates a burger 30 minutes later? Maybe you’re thinking that a healthy, homemade salad can only give you drool-worthy satisfaction if it has bacon and blue cheese on it. But I’m here to tell you, you don’t need it. I can feel your eye roll, but just hear me out.
Your salad is basic. It’s basic and bland because you’re buying some basic-ass romaine and out of season tomatoes you’ve been grabbing since your health kick sophomore year in college.
You won’t chop your vegetables. It’s a chore to finely chop several different vegetables and you know your knife skills don’t come close to that famous chopped salad you get with your lady friends.
Your dressing is no good. It’s a store bought, poor quality oil, sugar filled bottle of slime. This bottled dressing dilemma has no solution in your mind because when you make your own, it “just doesn’t taste right.” What you mean by that is, it’s not slimy and super sweet like you’re used to. If I’m being honest, it’s not your homemade dressing that’s off …it’s your tastebuds.
Don’t worry, I can help. Your salad struggle and your tastebuds. I’ll have you making and enjoying a decent salad, and bonus, saving a few bucks in the process.
Here are a few hacks you need to try to make your basic salad, better:
This is not the time or place to fill your cereal bowl to the brim with perfectly lined up salad ingredients in vertical rows for instagram. A delicious salad needs room to move and breathe and LIVE. It needs to have space to be tossed about without having any concern as to whether it’s photo ready, #freeyoursalad. Those small salad bowls are claustrophobic for those veggies, and we don’t want your arugula to feel cramped, so get a BIGGER BOWL.
Don’t over complicate it. You don't need to know much about herbs. You don’t even need to know the names of any of them. Just buy some herbs, any herb will do, and just add them to your salad. You can just tear them up on your hands, if you don’t feel like chopping. I love Parsley, cilantro, mint, and even dill sometimes too. Separately. All mixed together. It doesn't matter. No rhyme or reason, just do it. There is something magical that happens when herbs join forces with butter lettuce, and cucumbers, and it makes the salad fresh and bright and it all tastes better.
Your salad isn't any good because you haven't picked a variety of vegetables, partly because you dreaded chopping them. Celery, carrots, purple cabbage and so on, add some heartiness to your lettuce, and a very necessary crunch element. Nuts and seeds do this as well, but those are delightful toppers and not the bulk of the salad. So you can take a knife skills class— a valuable skill— or I have a hack for this step if you want to get it done fast without an online chopping course.
A food processor (a blender works too).
It can chop all of those vegetables at once with just a quick pulsing action. Throw medium sized chunks in, and blitz those babies for a few 2 second intervals. You’ll instantly have finely chopped broccoli, and beets you can store in a glass container in your fridge. Daily salad making just got sonic speed.
I also love, love a simple mandolin. It’s like $25 on Amazon and it shaves your vegetables quickly and fairly easily as well. Just shave everything. Cauliflower, cucumber. Shave it all. Go Brazilian on those veggies.
You want to be able to taste your ingredients so keep the dressing simple and know it by heart. Here’s a simple recipe below. Make this dressing in a mason jar, put a lid on it, shake it up, and store it in the fridge. Having a dressing ready to go in a jar in your fridge makes the world a better place. Truly. You can also make the simple dressing at the bottom of your BIG bowl and add the chopped vegetables and greens on top and put it in the fridge until you’re ready. It’s a great entertaining tip for when you want to make it ahead, but don’t want to wilt your salad.
So, there are no excuses for picking up that prepackaged salad b.s. I believe in you. Get your salad on. Big Bowl. Simple homemade dressing. Fresh herbs. Tiny chopped veggies. A few nuts and seeds, if you fancy. Maybe even throw on some organic rotisserie chicken, a jar of line caught tuna, or garbanzo beans. Pack it up for lunch and be the envy of your friends and coworkers or just sit in your car alone and eat it. Either way.
3 to 1 ratio
3 tablespoons of olive oil to 1 tablespoon FRESH lemon juice or vinegar (Champagne, Apple Cider or my favs)
1 drizzle of honey if you need the sweetness
To keep in your fridge:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (big pinch)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (small pinch)
Put all of the ingredients in a jar and shake it up. Store in your fridge
Jenny is a writer, cooking coach, and host of Cliffs Notes Kitchen, where she shows how simple, bite-sized shifts with minimal effort, can create lasting changes in your health. You can find more of her articles here.