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The art of salad

July 21, 2009

When we think of salad, what most often comes to mind is bright green saladlettuce, crispy raw veggies and a tasty dressing. To me there is not much better in summertime. Garden salads tend to be as unique as the person eating them. There seems to be no limit in what flavor combinations and textures can be used. Salad trends come and go just like the seasons that provide fresh ingredients.

There are so many types of salad out there, with limitless choices of ingredients. Fruit salad, seafood salad, pasta salad, potato salad, bread salad, grain salad, bean salad, dessert salad, just to name a few. Some are obviously more healthy than others. When people say “salad,” they usually think healthy or low calorie, but this is not always the case. Ordering a salad at a restaurant can be hit or miss when it comes to health. This can also be said when preparing salads at home.  Garden salads are composed of naturally healthy ingredients, but can be misleading when high fat, high calorie dressing or toppings are added.

Here are my tips for keeping that summertime favorite as fresh and healthy as possible.

  • Always wash produce before eating it raw.
  • Choose ingredients that are in season, then find a recipe to match.
  • The darker the lettuce or green, the better it is for you.
  • The more colors the better. Use several different types of fruit and vegetable combinations for contrasting flavor and texture.
  • Save money by making your own dressings and vinaigrettes. Condiments make great flavor bases for emulsifications.
  • Use good quality ingredients in your dressings, or make sure the ones you buy do. Canola oil, olive oil, tofu and yogurt are all great ingredients for the foundation of healthy dressings.
  • Fresh herbs add loads of flavor without adding calories.
  • Try some different kinds of vinegar; there are so many great flavors on the market.
  • Use up those leftovers; saving money can make your salad taste even better.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite styles of salad. This chop salad can be made with any of your favorite vegetables. Take it and make it your own!

Florida Chop Salad

Yield 4 Servings

3 fresh Florida tomatoes, diced
1 Florida cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 red or sweet onion, chopped
1 Florida green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh basil, hand torn
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil


In a large glass or plastic bowl, combine all ingredients and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Serve over salad greens if desired.

Try adding feta cheese and olives to this recipe.

Salad photo from Flickr.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:23 am

    I love the tip about adding fresh herbs to salads. So many people use Dijon mustard, which I cannot stand but I understand that it enhances the flavor without adding fat. Herbs don’t add fat, either, and can really transform dishes. (If you’re a mustard fan, though, go ahead!)

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