Smart girls know that salads–not diamonds–are a girl’s best friend. Why? They’re delicious, crisp, nutritious, filling, and slimming. But just throwing together everything that looked good at the farmer’s market won’t turn into a perfect 10 salad at home. The key is to layer each element of the salad–Leaf, Crunch, Sweet, Umami, Dressing–considering the flavor pairing with the others. For instance, you wouldn’t want to pair arugula (leaf, bitter) with radish (crunch, bitter), unless you were adding lots of vibrant Sweet, like corn. Likewise, you wouldn’t layer beets (sweet, earthy) and carrots (sweet, earthy) over kale (earthy), which can become overwhelming. After reading this, you will never want to pay $14 for a gourmet salad at a restaurant.
Step 1: Select 1-2 from each category, clean and pat them dry
Leaf: Arugula (bitter), spinach (mild), lettuce (mild), rocket arugula (very peppery/bitter), chard (earthy), kale (earthy), watercress (peppery)
Crunch: Cucumber (fresh), radish (bitter), sugar snap peas (sweet), pickles (sour), carrots (sweet, earthy), tomatoes (sour), onions (peppery), pepperoncini (sour), hearts of palm (sour), artichoke hearts (sour), jicama (fresh), broccoli (fresh, slightly bitter), sprouts (fresh, peppery), Japanese turnips (slightly bitter)
Sweet: Raisins, fresh corn, peas, dried cranberries, grapes, apple slices, figs, beets, blueberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, mangoes
Umami: Walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, avocado, sauteed mushrooms, roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, roasted bell peppers, olives, sundried tomatoes, baked tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans
Step 2: Toss with homemade dressing of choice
Dressing: Balsamic vinaigrette (almost any salad), rice wine vinaigrette (Asian), vegan “honey” mustard (agave nectar and Dijon mustard, American), peanut dressing (Asian), tahini dressing (creamy), green goddess (avocado-based with herbs), carrot ginger (Asian, American)
Store-bought dressing is often loaded with preservatives, sugar, fake sugar, or other icky ingredients–so just make your own! To make a simple balsamic vinaigrette, just whisk 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper generously–and voila!
These ingredients are not friends: Tomatoes and apples; beets and anything it might color, like tahini dressing
These ingredients are soul mates: Walnuts and apples; broccoli and raisins; peas and roasted asparagus; pickles and roasted potatoes
Also try these salad recipes: Crispy Seitan Salad with Chia Seed Dressing
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling