A tasty side salad is one dish that every home cook should know how to make. This one is loaded with tasty ingredients, and is so much more fresh than a boring bag of salad mix.
You will want to serve it all year long. It pairs well with soup, sandwiches, casseroles, and all types of meat. A simple side salad is one of the most versatile side dishes ever!
The nice thing about green salad is that you can completely customize it to your tastes. But to take your salad to the next level, there are a few ingredients you should add.
Get creative, and make your salad your own. Just keep a few things in mind, and you will have a salad packed with flavor, texture, and nutrition!
The Best Side Salad: 5 Salad Ingredients You Need to Include
1. FRESH GREENS:
The first step to creating the perfect side salad is to choose a variety of fresh greens. They form the baste of your salad, and also provide fiber and nutrients. Some popular options include romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, spring mix, arugula, and mixed greens.
2. FRESH VEGETABLES:
Nobody wants to eat a bowl full of just lettuce. Fresh veggies add a pop of color, texture, flavor, and nutrition. The options are endless, but here are some suggestions:
- Cucumbers (We love English cucumbers because the skin is softer.)
- Tomatoes – Grape or cherry tomatoes are traditional, but I’ve also used diced roma tomatoes.
- Bell peppers – We like the sweeter red, yellow, and orange varieties.
- Onions – Red onions and green onions are more mild, making them a better choice for salad.
- Fresh mushrooms
- Broccoli or Cauliflower – Just make sure you cut them into very small pieces.
- Olives – Either black or green will work. You can leave them whole or slice them.
- Beets – Sliced beets add a lovely color to salads.
3. CREAMY INGREDIENT:
A soft and smooth ingredient adds a nice balance to a fresh, crisp salad. Some tasty options include:
- Cheese – My family has simple tastes, so we like grated cheddar or colby jack cheese. Other tasty cheeses for salad include feta, parmesan, and blue cheese.
- Avocado – Slice it into cubes or mash it up and toss it with your salad. As a bonus, it’s loaded with healthy fats and fiber.
- Eggs – Sliced or diced boiled eggs are a great way to add protein to a salad, and make it more filling.
Topping of your salad with a crunchy element takes it to the next level. You might want to try:
- Crisp bacon – This is my family’s favorite! I buy the precooked bacon bits from Costco, then crisp them up in the microwave before adding them to the salad.
- Sunflower seeds or pepitas – For best flavor, choose the roasted, salted variety.
- Nuts – Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are all a great addition to any salad. For best flavor, toast them first, or buy roasted and salted nuts.
- Croutons – You can’t go wrong with a handful of crunchy croutons, whether you make them yourself or use store bought!
In my opinion, a salad is only as good as its dressing! I’m a bit of a dressing snob. I don’t care for the bottled stuff, but I love homemade ranch dressing or even honey mustard dressing. You can use vinaigrette, thousand island, caesar, blue cheese, or any flavor you love.
Whichever dressing you choose, be sure to drizzle it over your salad just before serving to ensure that the ingredients don’t get soggy.
If you think you will have leftovers, I recommend not adding the toppings. The salad will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator if the toppings are stored separately.
After everything has been stirred together, the salad wilts quickly, so it will only last a few hours or a day in the fridge.
SIDE SALAD PRO TIPS:
- Cut your greens into small bite sized pieces! It takes a bit more time, but your family and guest will thank you. It is so much easier to eat salad when the lettuce and spinach are cut no larger than an inch.
- You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time, but don’t toss them in your salad bowl until ready to serve. Ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course dressing will make your salad get soggy.
- If you want a more sweet side salad, try adding Craisins, apples, or mandarin oranges and serving with a sweet vinaigrette dressing.
- For an even healthier salad, add some chopped kale or cabbage in place of some of the romaine.
- Before serving the salad, you can sprinkle the greens with basil, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt, or any herbs you like. Adds a nice punch of flavor.
MORE TASTY SALAD RECIPES:
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
- Chick Fil A Cobb Salad (copycat)
- Cheesecake Fruit Salad
- Tuna Macaroni Salad
- Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe
- Doritos Taco Salad Recipe
- Strawberry Banana Fluff
- Brussel Sprout Salad
SIDE SALAD RECIPE
- 1 pound romaine lettuce, chopped (10 cups)
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned (or shredded)
- 1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup crumbled bacon
- 2 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- Wash and chop all of the vegetables.
- Slice or dice the boiled egg and grate the cheese.
- Toss together the romaine and spinach in a large bowl. Top with all of the other ingredients.
- Just before serving, toss everything together. Serve with ranch dressing, or another dressing of your choice.
- Alternatively, you can divide the greens between 5 plates, and arrange the toppings on each plate.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a small amount from your purchase, no cost to you.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g
Serve a simple salad on the side of any main dish and you have a complete meal. For the best salad, make your own dressing and get creative with the toppings. Salad doesn’t need to be boring!