Use This Cheat Sheet To Make the Best Salad

best salad cheat sheet
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The Best Salad Starts With the Best Ingredients

When it comes to making an amazing salad, there is really only one thing to keep in mind: seasonality. The best salad is only as good as its ingredients and the best ingredients, i.e. those with the most flavor are those that are in season and/or were harvested at peak ripeness.

Sure, you can eat watermelon salad in December, but it’s likely to be mealy and grown with a bunch of pesticides. Yuck. That brings us to the next piece, organic. Go for organic ingredients otherwise your bowl full of goodness will also contain residues from hundreds (literally hundreds) of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. No thanks.

Once you’ve got good organic ingredients at your fingertips, here’s how to pull them together into something to sing about.

Choose The Right Green For Your Salad

What type of lettuce should you use for your salad? You’re looking for something that can stand up to your dressing. If you’re doing a simple vinaigrette, a delicate green like arugula or baby mixed lettuces is the way to go. If you have a more hearty dressing, like this, go for something sturdier like romaine or green leaf.

Make Your Own Dressing 

Is it worth making your own salad dressing? We know, we know, making your own dressing seems like a hassle. In truth though, it’s a snap once you get the hang of it. Plus, shaking up a few ingredients in a mason jar is pretty satisfying after a long day. We’re just saying …

Making your own salad dressing is seriously worth it. First, it always tastes better. Second, you know exactly what’s in it and can customize to your taste and dietary needs. Store bought dressings often contain excess sugar and filler ingredients like soybean and canola oil. Plus, what’s more tragic than beautiful organic salad ingredients drowning in a genetically modified dressing?

If time simply doesn’t allow for a homemade dressing, choosing an organic vinaigrette like this one is the next best salad dressing option.

Incorporate 1-3 Vegetable Additions

Keep it simple. You can go crazy with ingredients, but more ingredients doesn’t necessarily translate to a better tasting salad. Instead, choose a few additions you’re really into and give them the space to shine.

Here are some of our favorite vegetable combinations:

1. Asparagus, Carrots, Tomatoes
2. Red Bell Pepper, Red Onion, Mushrooms
3. Asparagus, Scallions, Mushrooms
4. Red Bell Pepper, Avocado, Red Onion
5. Beets, Green Apple
6. Green Apple, Celery
7. Broccoli, Bell Pepper

Then Think: Crunchy, Sweet & Salty For Your Salad

Crunchy, sweet and salty is the winning trifecta for the best salad. If you’ve got these three elements going for you, your salad is poised to please. Here are some options in each category. Mix and match till your heart’s content. Choose at least one and no more than two items in each category when building your perfect salad.

Crunchy Salad Additions: Nuts and Seeds

1. Sunflower seeds
2. Walnuts
3. Almonds
4. Coconut chips

Sweet Salad Accents: Dried and Fresh Fruit

1. Grapes
2. Sultana Raisins
3. Cranberries
4. Apples
5. Deglet Noor Dates
6. Smyrna Figs
7. Apricots
8. Mission Figs

Salty Salad Toppings: Cheese and Other Accoutrements

1. Sundried Tomatoes
2. Kalamata Olives
3. Blue Cheese
4. Goat Cheese
5. Bacon
6. Feta

If saving time is on your mind, capture the sweet, salty, crunchy trifecta with a handful of these, these or these.

Best Made Salad Secrets

1. Often the thing that keeps us from making salad is the prospect of prepping all those ingredients. Instead of washing just enough greens for one meal, consider washing a whole head of lettuce and storing in the fridge so it’s ready to go. Do the same for the other vegetable ingredients.
2. Purple onions taste awesome in a salad but soak them in water first to mellow their potency.
3. Don’t dress your salad until your ready to eat it. No wilted salad greens here.
4. Add salt and pepper just before dressing your salad and toss. This tip from Bobby Flay has revolutionized our salads. A little seasoning helps the flavors pop.