5 Ingredients to Add to Your Next Salad

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There’s nothing worse than a sad salad. You know, a mound of forgettable lettuce, topped with a few cucumber slices, maybe wedges of muted tomatoes. And don’t even get me started with the generic balsamic vinaigrette, viscous and sweet — no, thanks. As with many foods, I think many people who claim they’re not “salad people” simply haven’t had a great, interesting (and dare I say exciting) salad. Here are my five favorite ingredients to make your salad anything but boring.

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Add Herbs

A handful of chopped parsley, mint, cilantro, dill or basil interspersed with your greens will immediately make your salad more interesting. Salad is a great way to use herbs before they go bad on you.

Consider cooked veggies

Leftover roasted vegetables are a nice contrast to raw salad ingredients, particularly in cold weather months. When you cook, always make extra. Roasted cauliflower, broccoli or even steamed carrots or asparagus work nicely.

Get Good Greens

If you think lettuce is lettuce, find your closest farmers market — stat. Greens, preferably organic, in their freshest form are far from boring. In New York City, Windfall Farms is the best producer I’ve found. I like their microgreens, but always buy an assortment. If you think these are too expensive, let me remind you that a take-out salad is $15-20 dollars at Sweetgreen.

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Use Flavorful Oils

Last week, my teenage son (and the less foodie of my two children) said, “OMG this olive oil is amazing!” Kids, especially teens, are my yumminess barometer. Trust me — they have no issue snubbing certain salads. With a good oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some salt and pepper, you’ll be set.

The oil my son liked is Olio Beato, an organic olive oil. I also adore Wonder Valley and Alziari. You can use a more basic olive oil when cooking and save these flavorful options for salads or for adding a little drizzle to cooked foods. Please throw away that bottled salad dressing!

Add Avocado, Obviously

I know there are people who like a little texture in salad. For them I’d suggest pumpkin seeds, pistachios, jicama or even bee pollen. For me, every salad has (and always will have) half an avocado.

Lauren Slayton, MS RD is the founder of Foodtrainers and the author of the book The Little Book of Thin (Perigee 2014).

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