How to Make the Perfect Salad

It recently dawned on me that almost all the salads I like these days have a combination of toppings from three specific categories: fruit (or dried fruit), nuts (or seeds), and cheese. It’s no secret how much I love cheese. And for some reason if a salad is instead only adorned with veggies like carrot shavings or cucumbers slices, it just doesn’t look quite as appetizing to me. Let’s remember – I hardly liked salads before our switch to real food. But knowing how good those leafy greens are for me I’ve tried to find ways to embrace them.

So here is my secret for making the perfect salad that anyone would enjoy!

How To Make The Perfect Salad on 100 Days of #RealFood

Here is the link to the salad dressing bottle with the measurements on the side that’s mentioned.

Do you agree these are the components for a perfect salad?

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42 thoughts on “How to Make the Perfect Salad”

  1. I’d like to add a variety of veggies + I’m also a fan of cream dressing w/ yogurt or avacado + don’t forget the herbs! Nom nom! Cool chart!

  2. My favorite salad is spinach or spring mix for the greens topped with [canned, drained] mandarin oranges, strawberries, pecans, feta cheese and basaltic dressing.

  3. I personally like a more savory salad. Cucumber, red onion, kalmata olives and an apple cider vinegar/olive oil dressing is perfection. I also love a lemon/honey/mustard + olive oil dressing. Okay, I actually love green salads and always have :)

  4. So I just read that avocado is technically a fruit, as are tomatoes. We just started eating salads as a regular occurrence and I like cucumbers and cherry tomatoes on mine, along with the greens this is my base, then everything else. We like sliced mandarin oranges on ours, as well as sunflower seeds and the indulgence of a few croutons.

  5. Yum! Having just come back from a month in Italy it is interesting to see that the Italians have a plain green or mixed salad to start in order to get the digestive processes going before eating their carbs and protein. But the reality is that all too often we don’t have the time to have a staggered meal. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this – I like a great combination of flavours in a salad and my general rule of thumb is to have either cheese or meat or fish or eggs as the third ingredient (leaves and nuts/fruit being the other two).

  6. Nah, I prefer my salad with lots of fresh veggies. No fruit; I’m not a fan of mixing my sweet and savory foods together. A good salad in my house includes greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion (preferably red onion) to start. If I have them in the house, I’ll add peppers and carrots. And then I top it all off with some of your Mustard Vinaigrette because I LOVE that stuff.

    Which reminds me that I bought a whole bunch of salad fixings at the Farmer’s Market this week…

  7. when I was younger, i hated salad because i didn’t like the dressings. My family always ate ranch or thousand island. Until I realized that salads don’t require dressing, I never liked them. Now that I’m older, I still don’t put dressing on most salads. Even just a simple vinegar/oil dressing seems out of place on my salad.

  8. I love fruit and nuts on my salad but what I REALLY like is adding a bit of your(100 days) granola cereal on it. YUM!!

  9. When I was growing up, my mom would make a strawberry spinach salad with slivered almonds and a poppy seed dressing. So good!

  10. We love salads at my house. My 10 yr old son even eats them when I pack them in his school lunch! I love mine with lots of veggies instead of fruit, a sprinkle of feta, a drizzle of a local Greek dressing and if I want to kick it up a notch, homemade croutons!! For my lunch I usually add a hard boiled egg or two. Yum!!!!

  11. I have stopped using dressing altogether. I am trying to lose weight–10 pounds lost so far!!!!–and if I make the salad tasty enough, I really just enjoy the taste of the veggies. No cheese or avocado either. My favorite base is arugula, then tons of tomatoes and peppers–different colors make it look pretty too!!!! I also loved adding grilled veggies from the night before–last night it was arugula with cold grilled mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, eggplant and zucchini Flavorful enough-no dressing needed!

  12. It’s only been in the last year that I started trying fruit on my salads and it’s quickly become a favorite topping. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t touch a piece of lettuce until I was 26 years old. It tasted like metal to me. But after I got married my in-laws served a salad with almost every meal so I started trying them and now salad is my most favorite meal.

  13. I agree with HappyForks. I add small bite-sized chunks of raw vegetables. I like eating my salad with a cocktail fork, one piece of vegetable, fruit, or cheese with a bit of greens and perhaps the nuts or seeds.

  14. I just made a salad with each component for lunch today, and you are completely right! I never even realized it until I saw your post…to make a good salad you need all 3!
    My salad had – a base of Greens + fresh blueberries, goat cheese & sliced almonds with an avocado vinaigrette (it’s a local brand for me, and delicious — definitely worth trying if you run out of your own homemade!) http://www.alpineavocado.com/

  15. Perfect salad needs also combination of spicy and fresh vegetables with sweet fruits. So we definitly have to add some onion, red peppers or something similar. Additionally, some herbs- basil, mint, coriander, whatever we like. Then, it will be healthy and nutritional salad full of antioxidants.

  16. Awesome! And great to hear someone else thinking this way! I decided a few months back, for our family it’s:
    * something sweet: usually fruit
    * something crunchy: nuts, seeds, croutons (for my hubby), onions, harder veggies; I kinda cheat I guess as I usu consider cooked beans and mushrooms in this category…
    * something moist: tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, roasted veggies, touch of yogurt (ok, just me on that one :>)
    Favorite greens: kale mixed with anything. Favorite cheese: no – no favorites. Love them all! :D
    When it’s this good, it’s just so satisfying. I don’t even consider that I’m missing another topping (like meat) or a “side” (like soup).
    Fun to share! Thanks :)

  17. I love to squeeze half of a lemon over a salad for dressing, maybe mixed with a teaspoon of olive oil. I love olive oil but sometimes it can aggravate my skin. I love the lemon flavor in my salad! Got the tip from Jessica Alba’s book and have been doing it ever since.

  18. Don’t forget the onion! Green onions, red onions, even carmelized white or yellow onions make the difference for me! Also, I don’t see anything about beans/lentils, but they can make for a fantastic addition. I particularly like kidney and garbanzo beans, but lentils are great with feta, or a yogurt dressing; black beans and corn for a southwestern type salad… Really, the possibilities are endless!!!

  19. Ellen Stevens: where can I buy micro kohlrabi? I live in Los Angeles and have never seen these. When I ask at farmer’s market whether they carry regular kohlrabi, they don’t even know what I’m talking about. Thank you!

  20. You’ve made a good start, but there are lots more categories and ingredients to use. Proteins could include boiled eggs, chicken, tuna, steak, beans (garbanzo, pinto, northern, etc.) and additional fruits: mandarin oranges, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Also, add toasted sesames, crunchy Chinese noodles, croutons, Fritos corn chips, etc. You can think Tuscan, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Mexican, etc. And don’t forget the toppings that make your salad go over the top: kalamata olives, Spanish green olives, black olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, etc.

  21. You’re missing out on microgreens!!! These little tiny babies pack a powerful punch in both taste and nutrition. I am a grower in Charlotte,NC and sell to restaurants and my extras go to Providence Produce. They keep my salad from becoming mundane. Adding micro arugula or micro white scallions or even the mild micro mix ( kale, mixuna & kohlrabi) gives each salad a different taste and texture… And MY KIDS WILL EAT THEM!

  22. When making a fruit based lettuce salad, use a fruit based dressing made with walnut oil and your favorite fruit vinegar Our favorite is pear vinegar walnut oil and a splash of honey. It works well with mixed greens topped with apple, dried cherry and blue cheese or pear, dried cranberry and blue cheese. Makes for a great winter salad, when farmers market veggies are long gone.

  23. I agree with the fresh fruit. I love some berries or whatever is in season, along with some nuts like walnuts and always avocado. If I use dried fruit, it’s sparingly. I avoid oil which is why I always include avocado. I am a nutritarian so no cheese for me. My dressings are usually a blend of berries, nuts, spices and some type of vinegar. But a fruit and nut salad is usually a special side salad for a special meal a couple times a week. Our main go-to salad is a mix of greens with tomatoes, mushrooms, any other veggie in my fridge, 1 cup of some type of cooked bean (chickpea or kidney usually), avocado and homemade dressing. BIG salad like that everyday for lunch.

  24. I agree with the fresh fruit. I love some berries or whatever is in season, along with some nuts like walnuts ans always avocado. If I use dried fruit, it’s sparingly. I avoid oil which is why I always include avocado. I am a nutritarian so no cheese for me. My dressings are usually a blend of berries, nuts, spices and some type of vinegar. But a fruit and nut salad is usually a special side salad for a special meal a couple times a week. Our main go-to salad is a mix of greens with tomatoes, mushrooms, any other veggie in my fridge, 1 cup of some type of cooked bean (chickpea or kidney usually), avocado and homemade dressing. BIG salad like that everyday for lunch.

  25. Try herbing it up with a little garlic powder and oregano (slight salt and pepper). It really makes the leaf very flavorful on the front end. And then you can dress it up like it’s going to party like it’s 1999.

  26. My first venture into “real food” was chucking the bottled dressing and making my own salad dressings and I’ve been doing it with an old “bottle included with packets” bottle from about 20 years ago! Decided I deserved a new one and ordered your fave!

    I do agree with the list, but would also add other veggies to the greens first before the fruit/nuts-seeds/cheese. We have decided that a bit of blue cheese makes EVERY salad and dressing better!

  27. I agree, those are the main components of my salads as well. I tend to like to jazz up my dressing a little more, however. If you add an emulsifier your oil and vinegar won’t separate so quickly. Try half a teaspoon of dijon mustard and one teaspoon of honey, jam or maple syrup (I’ll admit it, I love sugar).

  28. I love avocado and nuts (pine nuts are my fav) on a salad, but I have to have veggies on there too. I just try to mix it up, so it doesn’t get boring. I do make a salad with spinach, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts & sharp cheddar that my family loves. I make a dressing of evoo, acv, honey & few spices. If I have lemon, I’ll add lemon juice. Perfect summer salad , in my opinion. Salad can get boring if you don’t vary the toppings.

  29. What about sweetcorn, sweet peppers (capsicum?), radish, broccoli, beetroot, celery etc? I think you left out half the salad!

  30. I’d recommend a lemon/lime dressing as another option. We’ve been doing just a bit of each on our salads–and sometimes even add some other dressing. The lemon and lime provide a fresh kick of citrus that enhances the flavor!

  31. I disagree. Way too much oil. It is possible to have only vinegar or only lemon juice and still have a tasty salad. An oil to vinegar ratio of 3:1 seems extreme.

  32. I couldn’t agree more! My all-time favorite salad consists of: greens, apples, dried cranberries, toasted nuts or seeds, and blue cheese. I usually don’t need any dressing, I just chop it all up. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to try some of these combinations to switch things up.

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