Creating a Restaurant-Worthy Salad

Happy Thursday, friends!

Wordy post to share with you all today…

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Let’s get to it!

5 Ways to Amp Up Your Salad (and topping ideas!)

  1. Try different types of lettuce greens to mix up the texture and flavour of your salad. Arugula is my favourite, but I want to experiment with other tender mild leaves with crisp ones.
  2. Arugula and watercress are peppery. Endive, radicchio, treviso, and dandelion greens are bitter. Purslane and sorrel have bright, lemony flavours. Kale, mustard greens, and cabbage? These are sturdy, work well shredded, and add body to your salad.
  3. That being said, buy greens from the farmer’s market! Clamshells tend to go bad faster. Greens from the market are so fresh!
  4. Remove excess water after purchasing. Wrap in a paper towel and then in a plastic bag in the crisper.
  5. Before serving, make sure leaves are completely dry. Spin them in the salad spinner in batches, without spinning overly hard to prevent the leaves from getting crushed. You can pat them with a paper towel, or roll them up in another towel.
  6. Smaller greens like spinach should be stemmed, but leaves left whole.
  7. Use a dressing with fat (oil). Try making your own vinaigrette using olive oil.
  8. The most basic vinaigrette dressing follows one rule – 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. For example, whisk 1 tsp of vinegar with 3 tsp (1 tbsp) oil.
  9. Sweetness is essential in a salad. I like some honey, or maybe maple syrup. Dijon mustard complements the sweetness perfectly!
  10. Careful not to overdress the salad.
  11. Make your salad in a massive bowl to ensure that every leaf is fully coated and seasoned.
  12. Season the salad with more salt than you’d expect. This is a restaurant secret that makes salads at places like Cactus Club so amazing. Sprinkle in a little flaky sea salt – your salad is guaranteed to be much more flavourful.
  13. Vegetables on top add brunch and colour. Try radishes or eggplant! Some other ideas – carrot, cucumbers, radishes, sprouts, fennel, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, beets, or more.
  14. Squash add awesome colour and texture. Try butternut, acorn, zucchini, or any other member of the squash family you can think of.
  15. For protein, experiment with chicken, turkey, fish, beans, or tofu. I want to try tempeh!
  16. Speaking of protein, try grilling, searing, broiling, steaming, or blackening any of the above (maybe not the beans).
  17. Dried fruit add a bit of sweetness and chew. I like cranberries!
  18. Seeds and nuts are a salad must-have, in my opinion. I think walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pistachios work beautifully with goat cheese and fruit. Sesame seeds, cashews, and peanuts are awesome in Asian-style salads. Make sure the nuts are toasted! They not only add flavour and texture, but also extra nutrition.
  19. Eggs are phenomenal salad toppers. Try them hard-boiled, poached, fried, or mashed into egg salad!
  20. For a starch, potatoes, corn, brown rice, whole wheat bread (on the salad as croutons, or even on the side!), whole wheat pasta, or quinoa/couscous are all fantastic.
  21. One word – avocado. Creamy, flavourful, beautiful. Can you ask for more? Okay, maybe for them to have smaller pits. And to not go from ripe to rotten so quickly!
  22. Garlic, shallots, and onion add beautiful flavour to the salad, or even the dressing itself.
  23. Herbs, like basil, add wonderful flavour.
  24. Any kind of cheese would work beautifully in a salad.
  25. Dress your salad lightly – literally. Be very gentle with the salad tongs. Even better? Use your hands!

Salad Ideas

Amazing Arugula

  • arugula
  • beets
  • cucumber
  • radish
  • chickpeas
  • feta
  • sunflower seeds
  • lemon + EVOO

Chop Chop

  • romaine and iceberg
  • beets
  • egg
  • tomato
  • cheddar

Kale It

  • baby kale
  • artichoke hearts
  • asparagus
  • quinoa
  • goat cheese
  • toasted almonds
  • tomato vinaigrette

Slammin’ Salmon

  • field greens
  • tomato
  • fennel
  • asparagus
  • oranges
  • olives
  • citrus vinaigrette

Spinach

  • baby spinach
  • mushrooms
  • bacon
  • egg
  • tomato
  • goat cheese
  • crispy onions
  • dijon vinaigrette

Build your own (choose a protein, too – see #16!)

Lettuce

  • Romaine
  • Chopped Iceberg
  • Wild Arugula
  • Farmers Market Field Greens
  • Baby Spinach
  • Baby Kale

Crunch

  • Crispy Kabocha Squash
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Crispy Bacon Bits
  • Olive Oil Croutons
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Pecans

Cheese

  • Feta
  • Parmesan
  • Aged Cheddar
  • Crumbled Blue
  • Pesto Bocconcini
  • Goat’s Cheese

Toppings

  • Honey Crisp Apple
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Asparagus
  • Sliced Farm Eggs
  • Edamame Beans
  • Pickled Red Beets
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Roasted Beets
  • Breakfast Radishes
  • Shaved Fennel
  • Cucumber
  • Oranges
  • Fresh Chickpeas
  • Pesto Marinated Chickpeas
  • Roasted Peppers
  • Button Mushrooms
  • Pickled Cauliflower
  • Shaved Jalapeño
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Avocado

Hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and weekend ahead of them!

  1. What are your favourite salad toppings?
  2. Do you have any plans for the weekend?

8 thoughts on “Creating a Restaurant-Worthy Salad

  1. This salad looks great & I love your tips, but I must say most restaurant salads are horrible. They’re laden with crispy chicken, fatty dressing, too much cheese and not enough veggies. It’s rare to find a restaurant that offers a healthy salad. It’s one of my biggest frustrations with eating out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome, I love all your ideas! It’s really sad reading this because my salad today is just plain lettuce and edamame.. it’s the worlds worst salad.. I dont even wanna eat it!! I ran out of time and ingredients 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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