Salad Inspiration

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not much of a salad person. I think a lot of people envision “healthy diets” being full of big salads and bean sprouts and tofu, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with those things, that’s not at all how we eat. Our definition of real food of course includes a variety of fresh organic greens, but also a lot of other things like whole grains and dairy and fruit and even locally-raised grass-fed cheeseburgers. :)

So when I recently caught myself craving a certain salad, which has never before happened in my 34 years, I of course felt compelled to share it with all our facebook fans. And I also asked them about their favorite salad combinations as well (below) because I’ve learned that not all salads are created equal. Over are the days of somewhat soggy iceberg lettuce pieces topped with stale looking carrots and a side of highly processed salad dressing. If you start with some fresh greens and top them with the perfect mix of “accessories”  I am learning that salads can actually be kind of good. And if we really come up with a super tasty combination of accessories my kids might even have a little salad, too. So here are some ideas to keep us all from getting burnt out…and as always leave any additional suggestions you might have in the comments below!

  1. Mixed greens with apples, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and olive oil (pictured above)…the salad that inspired this post!
    Variations of this salad:

    • Add dried cranberries, hold the blue cheese, and use a balsamic vinegar with the olive oil
    • Add strawberries, use roasted pecans instead of walnuts, top with salmon and balsamic vinegar
    • Gorgonzola or feta cheese instead of blue cheese
    • Pears instead of apples
    • Add grilled chicken
  2. Spinach with hard boiled egg, bacon, avocado, and a warm bacon dressing (with our without blue cheese)
  3. Mixed greens, goat cheese, glazed pecans, locally-grown cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar
  4. Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing
  5. Spinach or mixed greens with apples, walnuts, feta or asiago cheese, shredded carrots, avocado, raw garlic (sliced and diced very small) and sometimes some black, garbanzo, or kidney beans for more substance topped with olive oil and a little rice wine vinegar
  6. Shredded Napa cabbage, red cabbage, edamame, julienned carrots, cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro & any Asian style dressing
  7. Spinach, roasted beets, pears, goat cheese, toasted walnuts or pecans, and red onion all drizzled with olive oil and a nice citrus vinegar
  8. Baby spinach, chopped granny smith apples, dried cranberries, goat cheese and toasted pecans dressed with olive oil, raspberry vinegar and minced shallot
  9. Greens, strawberries, pecans, feta, and vinaigrette

    Caprese Salad

  10. Mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, crumbled blue cheese, thinly sliced red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  11. Arugula, shaved parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper
  12. Caprese salad – tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella – with pesto and balsamic vinegar (pictured)
  13. Mixed greens, feta, tomato, chickpeas (or white beans), carrots, olive oil and vinegar
  14. Spinach, cranberries, mandarin oranges, blue cheese, and candied walnuts
  15. Spinach, pears, dried cranberries, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and chicken (if you want meat) with oil and vinegar
  16. Mixed greens, cooked sliced beets, green or red onions, feta or goat cheese (I prefer goat) toasted walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  17. Broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, cheese (cubed small), green onion, cucumbers, bell peppers, and natural sunflower seeds tossed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
  18. Arugula, shaved parmesan, good olive oil, and pine nuts
  19. Romaine, almond shavings, avocado, mandarin oranges, some whole wheat cork screw pasta with a honey & sesame oil dressing (with or without chicken)
  20. Spinach or mixed greens with honey roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, mushrooms, avocado and goat cheese
  21. Spinach salad with red bell pepper, carrots and cucumbers with home made maple vinagrette
  22. Spinach, goat cheese, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pine nuts, and a poppy seed dressing
  23. Spinach, strawberries, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and a balsamic dressing
  24. Grilled chicken, roasted red and yellow peppers, grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over bib or romaine with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  25. Mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries with an apple cider vinaigrette
  26. Roasted pears and grapes over spinach with walnuts, goat cheese and a honey lemon dressing
  27. Greens, olives, tomatoes, red onion, and this Greek feta cheese dressing
  28. Taco Salad

    Taco Salad

    Mixed greens, shredded carrots, seedless cucumbers, avocado, hard boiled egg, walnuts, parmesan or asiago cheese, and bacon (sometimes chicken too) with maple balsamic vinaigrette

  29. Arugula, cherry tomatoes, Romano cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic
  30. Mixed baby lettuce, purple onion, sliced navel oranges, avocados, toasted almonds, balsamic vinaigrette
  31. Romaine tossed in a homemade lime dressing (lime juice, stone ground mustard and olive oil) and topped with taco seasoned ground meat cooked with minced onions and garlic, corn, black beans, avocado, black olives, a sprinkle of cheese and sour cream
  32. Taco salad (pictured)
  33. Spinach or salad greens topped with pistachios, goat cheese, pears & balsamic vinegar
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  • Comments

    1. Leslie |

      I also like cucumbers, thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers marinated in red wine vinegar with a splash of olive oil. Can add a little sweetener if you want, but I like it without.

      • ani |

        with a little bit of fetta cheese(grilled chicken is an option too if not vegetarian).It is bulgarian “shopska salad”.

    2. Joi |

      My family loves fresh romaine, shredded cheddar, black beans, tomato, red onion, avocado, bell pepper, corn, and homemade ranch dressing. The canivores in the family like to add grilled chicken breast. We call it Santa Fe Salad. Yum!

    3. Carol |

      I’ve also just discovered a salad with very fine-cut curly kale, thinly sliced cabbage with a dressing of olive oil, and a combo of cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Play around with the dressing proportions until you get it to your liking. This is really good. I never liked curly kale because it never seems to break down, but when you chop or shred it finely, it’s just crunchy!

    4. |

      Thanks for linking to my Greek dressing recipe over at makandcheese :)

      Lots of other great salad ideas on here we’ll be trying at home. More often that not we don’t get through the greens we buy before they start to go bad so these are good inspiration!

    5. Stephanie |

      That’s my favorite Greek dressing! Love it!

    6. |

      I used to work for a woman cleaning her house. She would make me lunch every day. She often made me a tuna/ garbanzo bean salad. It sounds gross, but it was good!

    7. |

      You can also make salad appetizing and healthy by mixing your favorite food into a salad, like chicken fingers, hamburger or even pizza pieces! Great post….I want some caprese salad right now!

    8. |

      My favorite salad may sound crazy, but my favorite restaurant does it and I make it at home. It’s great! It’s called “West by God,” and it’s mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with blue cheese, sliced steak, toasted pecans, and FRENCH FRIES. I make my own baked fries at home: and I also add dried cranberries to my salad. It’s great with homemade ranch dressing!

    9. Anne |

      Our favorite “main course” salad is: a mix of spinach, baby greens, and romaine, corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, black olives, red or green onion, red bell pepper, carrots, avocado, cilantro, a little cheese, topped with a few tortilla chips, grilled (or rotisserie) chicken and a chipotle cheddar dressing. I crave this salad often! Hold the chicken to make it a delicious side salad.

    10. hayleygg |

      I make a salad with chicken, glazed walnuts/pecans, dried cherries, and bleu cheese. I make my own dressing out of unsweetened apple sauce, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (is that Real?), and black cherry juice. It’s wonderful!

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        Yes, most mustards are pretty simple and “real!”

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