A food blog is a bit of a cop out in terms of instruction on healthy eating, because it’s a recipe stream of consciousness. Since the accepted model is to post whatever you make whenever you want, a reader doesn’t necessarily pick up on balanced meal planning (which is arguably the hardest part about healthy eating).
For example, if you followed our blog in December, you would find this lineup: Cookies, White Bean Dip, Salad, Cookies, and Biscuits. Granted, we intentionally post a collection of easy holiday entertaining recipes in December, but it does make it difficult to understand how to put together a meal.
After posting our tomato artichoke soup, I mentioned that it would be helpful to serve this soup alongside something with added protein, since the soup itself isn’t highly filling on its own. Generally we’d say something like, “serve with a green salad”, but this time we wanted to quantify it for you with this recipe. It’s more of an idea than a recipe, but we wanted to share it since it’s something we take for granted. Plus, if you don’t already make your own vinaigrette at home yet, throw out all your old salad dressing bottles and use this recipe! It has no preservatives and literally takes 2 minutes to whip up.
A few notes about building a lovely side salad:
- Make your own vinaigrette. You can use the easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe below, or any of these vinaigrettes from our archives. Our rule for making vinaigrette is: 1 part acid (vinegar or citrus juice) to 1 part oil (olive or grapeseed). Add kosher salt, pepper, and then any add-ins you’d like: chopped shallots or minced garlic, a bit of Dijon mustard, herbs, etc, and whisk to combine. There are endless possibilities!
- Use fresh greens, local if possible. Use any mix of greens you’d like. Our local farmer’s market has local greens year round, which we like to take advantage of when we can.
- Add toppings with contrasts of flavor and texture. For most side salads, we make sure to add something crunchy like pecans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Amp up the flavor by toasting the nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they are browned and fragrant. Adding flavorful cheese is a great counterpoint: we love feta, sharp cheddar, and goat cheese. Finally, you can add a sweet component using dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, apricots) or fresh fruit (apples, pears, strawberries). In the summer, top with herbs for extra flavor.
What are your favorite salad combinations? We’d love to hear.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- 8 cups salad greens
- ¼ cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
- ¼ cup cheese crumbles (feta, goat, or gorgonzola)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds (or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios)
- In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, and 2 pinches kosher salt.
- Dress 8 cups salad greens with the desired amount of dressing; reserve the rest for future use.
- On each plate, place 2 cups salad greens and sprinkle with dried fruit, cheese crumbles, and nuts.