How to Mix up Your Salads this Summer

minted mixed green saladI love salads. I have one at least five times a week, especially in the summer when cooking something just feels too much in the heat. As long as you add in enough protein and good fats like avocado, nuts, and/or olives, you can make your salad into a proper meal.

There are so many options for ingredients that there’s no need to ever get bored. I’ve done a few cooking demos showing people how to easily mix them up utilizing seasonal ingredients so I thought I’d share my tips with everyone here.

First, is the vinaigrette. I never buy bottled dressing because it’s so easy to make at home. It takes all of about 3 minutes, it lasts for a week, and doesn’t contain any added sugars or preservatives.

You can create something much more complex, but this is my go-to simple ratio to follow for an every day vinaigrette:

  • 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Roasted Walnut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar (balsamic, white wine, apple cider, tarragon, sherry, red wine, etc.)
    • OR 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • OR a comination of 1 Tablespoon vinegar + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice if you like it super zesty like me.
  • 1-2 teaspoons stoneground or Dijon mustard
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional Add ins:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs of choice (oregano, cumin, mint, etc.)
  • or 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (mint, dill, chives, basil, parsley, etc.)

Just put all the ingredients into a mason jar, shake and that’s it. Easy Peasy.

Next, is the salad. For me, it’s all about creating something that not only tastes great but is beautiful to look at and has great texture combinations.

When possible, use what’s in season and available locally. The produce will taste a million times better and you’ll also be getting the most nutrients for your buck. Local produce from a Farmer’s Market hasn’t been sitting around for days or weeks on shelves losing nutritional value like most of what you find in the grocery store. I know it’s not always possible to get to the Farmer’s Market because of time or where you live but if you can, it’s worth the trip!

Here are some suggested combinations:

  • Mixed lettuces. For my every day salad, I like a mixture of mesclun for color, romaine for crunch, arugula for bite, and radicchio for color and bite! Some other great options are baby kale, baby chard, spinach, red leaf, mizuna, traviso, or endive – the list goes one!
  • Fresh herbs.  I always add mint to my salads and very often, dill. Both give salad greens an extra freshness that I love. Some other great options are basil, chives, and parsley.
  • Veggies. My go-to veggies are carrots, Persian or English cucumbers, baby tomatoes, sweet bell pepper and avocado but feel free to use whatever is in season and suits your taste. In the summer, I love adding some fresh, organic corn and radishes or maybe even some grilled asparagus.
  • Protein. It’s easy to pack in protein whether you’re a vegan or omnivore. I personally love garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds in my salads but here are some other options:
    • Beans of choice: garbanzo, cannellini, kidney, fava, pinto
    • Nuts or seeds of choice: slivered almonds, walnuts, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp
    • Additional plant-based protein: organic sprouted tofu, organic edamame, French lentils, quinoa
    • Animal protein for my omnivore friends: pastured chicken or turkey, line caught wild salmon
  • Add ons. I often add in kalamata or castelvetrano olives, pastured goat’s milk feta from my Farmer’s Market,  and sprouts or micro greens for an extra nutritional punch.

If you want a more specific recipe for my every day, minted mixed green salad – you can find it here.

So, there you have it. That’s how I like to mix up my mixed green salad. Feel free to make it your own and let me know what kind of combinations you come up with – can’t wait to see what you create!

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