A mix of kale and romaine tossed together with quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and nuts to create the best tasting salad! Plus, keep reading to learn how to always have the right ingredients on hand to create a last-minute awesome tasting salad.
I am all about a knock-your-socks-off kinda salad! Salads just belong in my world. They are easy to change up, increase your veggie intake, make your main dish, or alongside that delicious pork tenderloin you just pulled out of the oven. Any way you want it, salads don’t have to be boring. We are looking beyond the iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, and croutons to create something a little more deserving of being called a salad.
Today I am going to tell you guys how to stock that pantry of yours to be able to make an awesome 5-minute salad any day of the week.
In my eyes, there are three main components that should make up a salad:
1. Pick your greens
2. Add crunch/color
3. Select your protein
#1 Pick your greens
When it comes to the greens, be choosy. Remember when buying your greens that the richer the color, the more nutrients it contains. I have found that greens last longer when I purchase them in their freshest form. I personally prefer using kale, spinach, arugula, and romaine that I can buy in bunches as opposed to bags. They just last longer and I am able to get more use out of them. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t buy them in bags because I most certainly do and it’s super convenient. All I mean is I like to mix it up and certainly pay attention to prices and what’s most affordable.
So when putting together a salad, I start with the greens. If you really love iceberg lettuce, try mixing it with romaine. When it comes to salads, the more variety the better in my mind.
#2 Add Crunch/Color
This step is probably my favorite part of putting salads together. It’s where I can get creative with what I have in the fridge and pantry. I keep a hefty supply of nuts and dried fruit for this reason. I just can’t do a boring salad. It’s the crunch and color that add taste and texture to a salad, thus why it’s my favorite part of making a salad.
Plus, the pantry essentials have a long shelf life so it never hurts to have a variety of options. My favorite pantry essentials for salads include: almonds, pecans, pistachios, pepitas, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and dried cranberries. I even like to throw in some honey roasted almonds or pecans on special occasions. They really make your salad “next level.”
When it comes to color, you can do just about anything. I like to take the main dish into account and whether I am going for a sweet or savory salad or even something in between. Some options include: avocado, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and fresh or dried fruit. The options are endless really.
When thinking about what to include, keep in mind what you will be using for the next step which is the protein. For instance, if wanting black beans in your salad, maybe pair it with some avocado and red cabbage. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
#3 Select Protein
Lastly, choose your protein. Obviously there’s a whole lot more options than this picture offers but I wanted to include some high protein foods that are not meat for some “outside-the-box” thinking. Usually, salads are not the main dish especially when made at home. But that doesn’t mean they have to be wimpy by any means.
Adding protein to a salad can really help with satiety or the feeling of “fullness.” Salads are a great addition to any meal because they can be nutrient dense for the number of calories they contain. Some of my favorite non-meat protein foods to add to salads include beans, quinoa, farro, almonds, and hard-boiled eggs. I love these items because we almost always have them around for whipping up a quick last-minute salad. Do you guys have any other favorites? Let me know in the comments!
Well, this salad for today is what inspired my tips for making the perfect salad…
Add the greens. I decided on kale and romaine for this salad.
Next add some color, so I added some delicious roasted sweet potatoes.
Lastly, add some crunch and protein! Don’t forget those! They make a world of a difference, promise. In this case, I added some chopped walnuts and pepitas to add crunch and quinoa to give it a protein boost.
And now it’s lookin like a salad I don’t wanna pass up, ya know!! Salads can be awesome when you aren’t afraid to mix things up a bit.
Now just because I didn’t include the dressing as a step in the salad making process doesn’t mean it’s not important. Just the other day I put together a salad I had not made before and I didn’t have time to make a dressing so I found an oil and vinegar dressing in the pantry and it was just blah. It had no flavor and thus the salad was definitely missing something so choose your dressing wisely!! However, for this salad I made my own so leave your worries behind. I got you covered today.
Have a good Monday!
- 4 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 teaspoons pepitas
- 1½ tablespoons crushed walnuts
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ shallot, minced
- Preheat oven to 425℉.
- Arrange chopped sweet potato on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over potato cubes and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon. Mix up to evenly coat potatoes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until potatoes start to brown around the edges.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring ½ cup water to a boil. Add quinoa and cook according to package instructions.
- In a food processor or blender, combine all 7 ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a large bowl combine both the kale and romaine lettuce. Add ¼ cup cooked quinoa or more depending on preference. Toss in the pepitas and walnuts and mix up. When sweet potatoes are done roasting, toss those in and mix. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.
Nutrition label includes salad without dressing
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