I always have greens on hand. Romaine, spinach, kale, arugula or some combination of these things. Their staples in our refrigerator because they are so versatile. I love pulling together salads for lunch using leftovers from dinner or other miscellaneous kitchen staples. It’s so easy, healthy, and never requires a recipe.
Despite the colder weather, a salad is still totally acceptable in Fall and Winter. I thought I would impart some wisdom from the LYK to make it a little easier on you.
Here are some rules I live by when making salad without a recipe:
Mix Your Greens: Use a combination of a heartier (kale) or more flavorful (arugula) green with your typical romaine, red leaf, or iceberg. It adds nutrients and flavor to the salad that can’t be achieved with other toppings. Other possibilities: shredded brussels sprouts, mixed greens, radicchio, or even cabbage.
Kale: Best when chopped up, in my opinion. The larger leaves tend to be a little too bitter and stiff for me, making it harder to chew. If you remove most of the stems, then run your knife through the leaves making thin ribbons, or just chop furiously, kale is much easier to digest!
Fruit: Fresh or dried, I almost always add a little sweetness to my salads with fruit. Dried cranberries tend to be a go-to since I always have them on hand for my morning oatmeal. Chris eats an apple a day so we also have those in the refrigerator at all times. Other fun fruits this time of year are: mandarin/clementine wedges, pomegranate seeds, or diced pear. No fruit on hand? I also use baby heirloom tomatoes.
Cheese: Feta has been my favorite as of late. The tanginess pairs really well with sweet fruit. You can also use cheddar, gouda, blue cheese, swiss, or even a little freshly grated parmesan. Just about anything works!
Nuts/Seeds: Toasted, roasted, or raw…your salad needs nuts. Try sunflower seeds, pepitas, chopped or slivered almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts. It’s all delicious.
Starch: Left over grains such as quinoa, barley, or farro? Left over roasted winter squash or sweet potato? Toss it in. None of the above? A can of rinsed and drained garbanzo, white cannellini, or black beans are also great additions. A healthy starch helps makes for a stick-to-your-stomach salad that even the boys will eat for lunch.
Protein: While you can get your dose of protein in the leftover grains you might toss in, you can also use leftover chicken, pork, steak or even fish and shrimp. I hope you don’t still have leftover turkey, but if you did, that would be great too.
Salad Dressing: It’s SO easy to make your own. Just add oil + acidity (citrus juice or vinegar) + s & p = vinaigrette. There are of course tasty additions to this if you please, such as honey, Dijon, maple syrup, or garlic.
Here’s a salad recipe to get you started but as you can see, substitutions are always encouraged in salad.
Mandarin & Avocado Kale Salad
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1 cup arugula
1 mandarin, peeled and divided into wedges
¼ avocado, diced
2 tablespoons walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon honey
Small pinch of salt and pepper
Whisk until combined. Drizzle over salad and toss then serve.
From the Little Yellow Kitchen,