Food

8 Common Salad Mistakes

8 Common Salad Mistakes

When we asked readers what lunches they pack for work, an overwhelming majority shared the same answer: salads. Reader Abby noted, “I bring salad every day. I joke that the best part is all the veggies and the worst part is all the veggies.” Thankfully, there are a few easy tricks that totally transform a salad, especially if you’re making it ahead of time. So, to kick off our lunch series, here’s how to take your bowl of greens up a notch…

1. You aren’t packing it properly. If you dress your salad in the morning, chances are you’ll end up with a soggy, gloppy meal by lunchtime. But! If you add dressing to the bottom of your to-go container, you can just shake the container to toss everything when you’re ready to eat. To further protect your greens from wilting throughout the morning, pack heavier ingredients first (they’ll absorb less of the dressing).

2. It’s not fresh enough. Toss a wedge of a lemon in your salad, and when you’re ready for lunch, squeeze it over your greens. The acidity revives limp lettuce, and can even hold its own as an one-ingredient dressing, which brings us to…

3. Your dressing is the weakest link. Store-bought dressings can taste processed (sometimes almost plastic-y!), so consider making your own fresh dressing. This beloved four-ingredient vinaigrette will give any salad a boost. Or try mixing pantry staples, like yogurt and pesto.

4. You’re not salting your greens. The secret behind delicious restaurant salads? You guessed it: salt. The word salad is even based on the Latin word for “salt” (sāl). So, finish your salad with flaky sea salt. With tiny pops of flavor and crunch, you’ll feel like a salad master every time you take bite.

5. You’re only using greens. Salads can go beyond a bowl of lettuce. Instead of greens, consider using a base of other vegetables (sweet potato, asparagus, broccoli), and then top with cooked grains (lentils, quinoa, couscous) and protein (rotisserie chicken, boiled eggs, chickpeas).

6. The toppings are boring. It might be time to switch up your add-in combinations. Here are a few slam-dunk ideas: 1. prosciutto, feta and grilled peach; 2. carnitas, crushed tortilla chips and avocado; 3. broccoli, quinoa and buttermilk dressing; 4. dates, toasted almonds and parmesan; 5. beets, goat cheese and pistachios.

7. You’re eating out of your tupperware. Once you get to the office, transfer your salad into a big, wide bowl. It’s much easier to coat your salad in dressing, distribute toppings evenly and, most important, dig right into.

8. A salad isn’t always enough. If you’re craving something different, but still want some vegetables, add lightly-dressed greens to your dish. (Pizza, we’re looking at you.) Food writer Julia Turshen told us she always coats arugula in lemon and olive oil before adding to her turkey sandwiches. Noted!

What are your go-to salad recipes? Please tell us below!

P.S. Delicious salad combinations, and a twist on a Caesar.

(Top photo Megan by Fleiner of Passports & Pancakes.)

  1. Vanessa says...

    Salads I general are a mistake. Why doesn’t anyone eat a bowl of chocolate. Oh wait, I do.

  2. Tessa says...

    I love making a big bowl of spinach or arugula (or both) with mushrooms, blue cheese, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and balsamic extract or arugula with pears, blue cheese, pecans, and a creamy ginger/soy dressing when I really want to treat myself in between “regular” salads. Also, I love having salads for breakfast with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and some low-fat cheese- it really wakes me up!

  3. Another tip – think of salad beyond greens. You can make so many hearty, interesting salads that don’t have to revolve around lettuce!

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

  4. Sabrina says...

    Thank you for the great ideas! I find it interesting that salad is the lunch that people are overwhelmingly take to work. I work in operating rooms and I am constantly craving warm lunches! Those operating rooms are cold! I typically take soups or rice/veggies that I can heat up and enjoy. I probably take a salad for work once a month, but these tips will make it the best office work salad I’m sure!

    • Leah says...

      Same here. If I’m cold, I crave a warm lunch like soup or a grilled cheese or oatmeal.

  5. Bela says...

    My husband is a former chef and constantly comments on how there are two basic, super-easy things to the most delicious salad: (1)getting good greens and (2) picking those greens.

    We buy all of our salad greens from the farmers market and they taste SO much better than the ones from a grocery store (even whole foods) — if you’re just starting out, they might taste a little bitter at first, but you’ll get used to it… so much so that grocery store greens start to just taste like water! Picking through greens is something that literally every nice restaurant does, but for some reason, no one does it at home. You just go through them and pick off the ends and any “grossies” (aka anything slimy, anything yellowish, etc).

    We dress our salads in EVOO and fresh lemon. Switching up oils to walnut oil + lime is an easy way to add variety!

  6. I’ve taken note of those wonderful suggestions for the toppings!

  7. Do we know where these beautiful pouring bowls are from?! Wowza!

    I’m trying desperately hard to figure out how to reliably reverse-engineer the beautiful salads from Mandy’s here in Montreal. Worth a quick google if you have a sec!

  8. Cindy says...

    I have salad for lunch almost every work day. I pack it the same day and keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge at work, so I generally don’t have to worry about soggy lettuce. The few things that do always seem to make the difference is packing the moist items like diced tomatoes and cheese on the bottom, adding something with crunch like walnuts or my favorite spicy flavored cashews, and most importantly I chop my lettuce. Having a salad with chopped lettuce makes it infinitely better IMO. Everything mixes nicely especially the dressing and it’s way easier to eat without making a mess or getting bite-fulls that are ridiculously big.

  9. Meg says...

    My favorite salad that I eat all summer long is chopped Romaine or salad greens, thinly sliced cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta and crushed pita chips, dressed with just olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. I eat it almost daily! When I get tired of it, I’ll make more of a tex-mex salad with corn, black beans, chopped tomatoes, grated cheddar and a creamy dressing made with taco spices. Or a French version with smoked trout or tuna, kalamata olives, tomatoes and mustardy vinaigrette. And avocado is a great addition to all of them!

    I can’t bring myself to eat eat cold salads in the winter, but I’m looking forward to warmer weather and the start of salad season!

  10. Rosie says...

    In my office I am so known for my salads that my coworkers tease me about my “big bowl of health” that I consume most days. All of your tips are spot on and I can’t think of any I would add. One thing to keep in mind that in the dark days of winter, don’t be afraid of using frozen vegetables. Frozen asparagus, corn, peas and other veggies that dont get soggy work well in a salad and can will quickly defrost overnight or, if you are making the salad in the morning, by lunchtime. Also, make sure your eating vessel/large bowl is one that is cheery and makes you smile. For the longest time I used an old tupperware container but then upgraded to a cute design and a ceramic bowl (found on a Target clearance shelf no leess) and it makes me smile every time.

  11. Annelise says...

    Annie’s eats Italian Chopped Salad is my go-to recipe! This week I added steamed salmon on top to have for dinnner.

  12. Tam says...

    This really resonates with me. When I look back at my life and realise all the salad mistakes I have made, including some I never even realised I was making, it makes me resolve to be a better person.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahaha

  13. You know what other word is based on the Latin word for salt? Salary. Apparently it’s linked to the money Roman soldiers got to purchase salt. There’s a whole book on the history of Salt my friend read years ago and I never forgot that tidbit. Now I’ll add salad to my running list of salt-based words. :)

  14. Lisa says...

    I’m one of those weirdos who hate salad dressing.. I want my salad to be a fresh, crispy salad, not a wet sloppy soup! I think salad has enough liquid in its veggies, and just add salt, pepper and maybe some other spices depending on what’s in it – sometimes a small squeeze of lime juice. Think favourite green leaves, with smooth avocado, smoked salmon, crispy cucumber, crumbled salty feta cheese, juicy tomatoes, thin slices of red onion, salt/pepper/lime and off you go! Add an egg or hummous for extra protein, or some couscous or grains for some carbs. Also, I don’t know if it’s a thing in the US but where I’m from we eat a lot of crisp bread made only from seeds and a little sea salt, google “fröknäcke” or Scandinavian seed crisp bread and I’m sure you’ll find a recipe. Remember there’s a million versions, some use wheat or rye flour but it can be swapped for corn flour to make it gluten free. They are totally addictive anyway, and I make big batches and eat them as a small snack between meals (with butter and cheese) or as a side for my salad. Sometimes I even crumble them over my salad to get some texture – it’s just seeds!

    • I just googled it – and I’m going to make this weekend – thanks for the tip they look delicious and just the sort of thing I love :) You’ve made one Australian girl very happy!

  15. Julia says...

    oh oops!! i think you guys may have made a little typo:

    For the title, I think it should be saying *2 Common Salad Mistakes

    and then instead of the content that you guys have, I think you meant to write:

    1. Don’t put the salad on your plate.
    2. Put the pasta on your plate.

    ;)

    • Shelby says...

      This made me giggle! Mmmmm…pasta!

    • that’s basically my life motto haha :)

  16. Stacy says...

    My favorite salads were the simple, yet delicious, ones that our friends in France make us. Start with hazelnut oil, a squeeze of lemon, a shake or two of vinegar, and a bit of brown mustard. Whisk all together on the bottom of the bowl and add crispy lettuce, a bit of corn, chopped tomato, jarlsberg cheese cut into small squares, and any nut you choose. They always sprinkled a small amount of salt on it too. We had this with every single meal and it was fantastic. I now make it but add ham, grilled chicken, or any other protein for a full meal. Delicious!

    • Ooh that sounds delicious, I have to try it. Red onion always lifts a salad.

      I always make my own dressings. I agree they are so much better than store-bought ones.

      I love salads with a bit of crunch -walnuts, peanuts or almonds are great for that. One I eat often is mixed green salad leaves + walnuts + feta + dried cranberry with salt, pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

  17. Georgi says...

    Where can you get those lipped bowls from (in picture above)?

    • Carrie H says...

      Lindsay Emery ceramic Pour Bowl. Looks out of stock.

    • Kim B says...

      I would also like to know where the lipped bowls are from…

  18. Laurie says...

    I’m not sure if anyone has posted this yet (as I’m at work and sneakily reading this in between co-worker walk-bys) but I bring a salad to work almost every day and my problem was always how to transport the dressing. Then I found these little guys and they are great! I make my go to salad dressing (olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard) in the morning then squeeze it on right before it’s time to eat, easy peasy!!

    https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Silicone-Squeeze-Bottle/dp/B013KAW77U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489621775&sr=8-3&keywords=oxo+salad+dressing

  19. One of my favorites is burrata, apple, prosciutto/salami (optional), basil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and a drizzle of honey and olive oil. Like a caprese but delicious even when tomatoes are out of season.

    Another good winter salad:
    http://www.irishboutique.com/blog/2016/12/29/abtgycs51oodbgmz5s5ixerivrxanc

    Also, anything with smoked fish, eggs or avocado – to keep hunger at bay.
    And Caesar salads almost every day, every time I’ve been pregnant!

  20. Cazmina says...

    A favourite salad of mine is: baby spinach, roasted pumpkin (roast with a drizzle of olive oil and a little dried herbs de provence mix), feta, beetroot (from a can/jar) and cous cous, topped with olive oil and pinch of salt (depending on how salty your feta is).

    I also like rocket (aka arugula), pear, walnuts and goats cheese (sliced and quickly fried/grilled so it’s caramelized and gooey) topped with a standard oil/vinegar dressing and salt.

  21. Kim S says...

    my go to salad for busy weeknights is roasted sweet potatoes, avocado and a fried egg over arugula. Lately I’ve been adding my new “everything bagel spice” from TJs and with a little bit of balsamic glaze (if I’m lazy) or homemade vinaigrette (if I’m fancy) it is really really good. If you like crunch add some pepitas too. to make for work I’d sub the fried egg for a soft boiled egg and it would be just as delish.

  22. Capucine says...

    Wait, more on carrying salad dressing! The oiliness…how do I quarantine it?! How?

    I have to confess, my glass tupperware and glass jar of dressing get mighty heavy. Not excited about adding in a bowl.

    But, I am excited about a tidy way to transport dressing! I’m out with my kids lugging a salad frequently, and the dressing jar turns sideways or upside down often enough I just…HOW?!

  23. Jenni Walker says...

    I love these tips! Ill definitely try them.
    I tend to avoid lettuce because I always buy such a big head of it and I’m the only one in my house who eats it (eh, em, husband-man). But what I’ve been doing lately is making Greek salads- cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red onion and feta tossed in some lemon juice and olive oil with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. It makes me feel like it’s sunny outside.

  24. I’ve found that adding olives has always turned a boring salad into an exotic meal (even with something boring like iceberg lettuce! It’s funny this post is up today because I’m not one to make salads very often for dinner, but I am preparing a spinach salad tonight. Spinach, raspberries, blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette! Hopefully I can convince my 2.5 yr old to eat some…lol.

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  25. I can eat the entire recipe of the 🍓, bacon, and spinach salad that cupofjo posted awhile back all by myself. It’s the perfect salty/sweet combo. I haven’t bought salad dressing since reading that post. We always have olive oil and vinegar on hand so I drizzle that on top and add salt and pepper. A little maple syrup is also delightful on a salad especially if you have more bitter tasting greens.

  26. Lexy says...

    I’m having a bit of a meta moment as I eat my salad while reading an article about, um, salads…
    Anyway, toasted pepitas and cotija crumbles make even the lamest salad (right now the bed of spinach that I’m eating it on is about 22 hours away from being expired, with half an avocado and a quarter of a pear) taste assertive and exciting. And, if you emulsify your vinaigrette properly, it will keep unbroken in the fridge for a suspiciously long time. My perfect vinaigrette is always something sweet, something acidic, and a mellow oil (today it’s leftover from last weekend—honey, rice vinegar, few drops of sesame oil, grapeseed oil).

  27. Traci says...

    Adding to the “fat is phat” cacophony, but not just because it tastes good; it also helps your body to absorb the nutrients found in the other ingredients. My favorites are freshly grated asiago, toasted walnuts or avocado…And on the best days, all three.

    Also, a regular at my college-days coffee shop gig always request no dressing in favor of a small side of ACV. He would lightly salt and toss his salad with the ACV, claiming that it brought out the flavor complexity of his salads. He was right, though I think it takes some getting used to.

  28. I love this!

    I love the idea of salting and adding different toppings. I love smoothie bowls and you can basically treat salad the same way aside from having a bowl of greens under all the toppings.

    I make my own healthy ranch dressing for my salad, made with greek yogurt, a bit of mayo, and ranch mix. It’s perfect in that I can eat as much as I want of it. I don’t like store bought dressings over all, though. If I don’t make greek ranch, I stick with an easy vinegar dressing.

    Neat things to try because I was totally getting sick of salad!

    Chris | http://www.ilovequietsundays.com

  29. Annie says...

    I usually like to heat up leftovers for lunch rather than eat salad, but I do think that the best salads are a study in contrast – with sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy elements. As long as you represent each of those, you have a good salad! For me, that usually amounts to some combination of fresh or dried fruit, salted nuts, cheese, avocado, and chopped veggies!

  30. Stefanie says...

    I have a genius Tupperware salad bowl, which comes with a little container for the dressing and cutlery. For recipes, thekitchn.com is my go to website if I lack inspiration. Ottolenghi’s recipes are great but can be a bit complicated for weeknights.

  31. Sarah says...

    The roasted salmon salad you featured on here a while back with arugula, chickpeas, capers, fresh herbs, lemon, and a bunch of other yummy things has become one of my go-tos! It’s one of the few salads that I’m happy to eat leftovers of for days. I can never remember where it’s from originally when I search for the recipe on my phone in the grocery store, I always google “cup of jo salmon salad” Just searched for it again – it’s originally from Not Without Salt. Highly recommend! I add avocado and omit the olives, and cut back on the capers.
    http://cupofjo.com/2016/06/summer-salad-with-salmon-and-chickpeas/

  32. Meg says...

    I started grilling romaine and it completely changed the way I eat salads. Salad-hate no more! Cut the romaine in half, brush with some olive oil, and then put cut-side down on the grill/pan. The heat makes the leaves sweet, while keeping the texture crunchy and the burned edges add contrast. I top with fresh parm and a little homemade cesar dressing.

  33. Lauren says...

    This is so timely! Not 30 minutes ago my husband and I were talking about how unsatisfactory our homemade lunch salads have been lately, and we couldn’t think of any good solutions. Little did we know that we were making upwards of 8 mistakes! Thanks for the great post.

  34. Ramona says...

    On Sunday nights I make champagne vinaigrette and Ina Garten’s toasted nuts with rosemary and cayenne. I make the vinaigrette while the nuts are toasting so it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes or so. If I have good quality bread that is getting old I toss it with olive oil and throw it in with the nuts while they are toasting to make croutons. These ingredients combined with virtually any lettuce/vegetable/fruit/protein/cheese combination make for a delicious salad. It’s a good way to use up leftover veggies from cooking dinner, or chopped veggies or fruits that are rejected by my daughter. I eat this every day for lunch.

  35. Heather says...

    These are great tips. And the title of the post, “8 Common Salad Mistakes,” is reminiscent of my favorite line from Matt Lauer’s cameo on the pilot episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “When we come back: Fall salad mistakes!”

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahahaha

  36. Liz says...

    Northern Spy’s Kale Salad is my go to salad. Sometimes I substitute roasted sweet potatoes for the butternut squash. It keeps for almost a week and is addictive. I got the recipe via Food52

  37. Christina says...

    My mum always made the salad before the dinner and left in on the counter. Room temperature salad taste better than cold salad straight from the fridge!

    • Amanda says...

      Yes! So much better!

  38. Cara says...

    This year I’ve followed through on the only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever kept: make my own salad dressing instead of buying. I’ve discovered that I far prefer the ones I make myself (and can add my own zip — cayenne and black pepper), and I’ve actually consumed substantially more salad as a result. And I get to feel all fancy and competent. Win!

  39. I have tried and tried to like salad, but no cigar. Adding feta cheese or garbanzo beans (who would’ve thought?) definitely help SO MUCH.

    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  40. Denise says...

    I think Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman makes the absolute best salads. Every single one I’ve made has been a winner, but my faves are her blueberry chicken salad (sounds weird but it’s so so good) and her homemade ranch dressing.

  41. My favorite dressing on a salad is sprinkled lightly: soy sauce, sesame oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Easy! I just mix it in with my fork!

  42. Abby W. says...

    I am dying as I’m sitting here again eating my salad; THAT’S ME! That’s my quote on my favorite blog ever!!! I am going to brag about this forever :))))))

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha yay abby!!! that makes us so happy!!! #saladsforever

  43. Great tips to make salad a tasty meal.

  44. For a quick salad, add toasted seeds or nuts. Toasting them brings out more flavor. A great mix is pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and hemp seeds and I just put them in a small fry pan dry, and cook them until they’re a little browned. Delicious.

  45. Maire says...

    Shaved Brussels (or shredded kale, or both) with dijon mustard vinagrette dressing (salt & pepper, dijon, EVOO, apple cider vinegar) with shaved or grated parm and toasted walnuts or pecans. Top it with a fried egg or two. Lunch is served!

  46. Vaish says...

    Quinoa salads are my go to! Add some steamed greens, fresh cherry or heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped red onions, shopped carrots for crunch, grilled chicken, or chickpeas if you’re vegetarian/vegan, & top it off with spice infused olive oil, lime juice, cilantro & salt to taste. SO GOOD. I never get tired of it.

  47. Cynthia says...

    I don’t have a set salad recipe as my salads are usually left over from dinner. I pack tomatoes separately to keep my salad crisp, and I put my dressing in a separate small container so I don’t have a soggy salad, and I usually pack some crackers to go along with it.

  48. Alyssa says...

    While I love a fresh green salad for lunch in the summer, I have a hard time eating cold salads during the winter. So lately I’ve been eating buddha bowls, which are essentially warm salads, for lunches. I usually start with a base of kale, roasted brussel sprouts or sauteed cabbage and add toppings like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, avocado or quinoa and maple tahini dressing. Yum! I also really enjoy vegetable based soups for lunch in the winter.

    • Twyla says...

      Same here. When it’s minus 20 (Celsius) outside the last thing you want is a cold lunch. I feel the same way about smoothies. It’s alright if you live somewhere warm/hot but you can’t be cold on the outside AND the inside.

  49. Brianna says...

    I like the idea of making salads without greens because I really dislike lettuce in all its’ forms, and go out of my way to avoid it. I love salad and love veggies, so I like the idea of starting with a grain or other veggie base.

  50. Tania says...

    Lately I’ve been digging butter lettuce, fennel, apple and radish, with lemon, olive oil and good salt (my go to dressing for everything.)

    It’s delightful but never enough, so I’ve been doing a variation on Joanna’s suggestion for breakfast toast, with ryvita crisps. Today I added whole milk ricotta and strawberry jam (bionaturae, which is low in sugar and also on sale at my local). And then, invariably: dark chocolate. Yum!

  51. My last minute dressing is always olive oil, balsamic (or other) vinegar, and a squirt of honey. I don’t really enjoy basic vinaigrettes without that touch of sweetness to cut the sharp acidity. We also like to use tahini sauce (tahini + water + lemon juice + garlic + salt) as a dressing for more Arab or Mediterranean salads. Those could be with roasted veggies, lemon or za’atar chicken, feta, olives, tomatoes, herbs, etc.
    It just kills me how even a lot of ‘nice’ storebought dressings are made with oils other than olive oil (I avoid canola and soy)…and if they DO have all olive oil, it’s going to cost you five times more than it would to make it.

  52. Heather says...

    My husband and I have a “go-to-salad,” one which we tend to eat twice a week, every week. We love it and it’s incredibly simple. First, I dress greens (mesclun, kale, arugula, whatever we have on hand) with homemade balsamic-mustard-vinaigrette and top it with a plop of homemade hummus, some roasted sweet potatoes, chopped cucumbers, and crumbled feta cheese. Sometimes I add pomegranate seeds, other times I add pepitas or chopped nuts. And, I always squeeze a bit of sriracha or spicy on top of mine. No matter the extras, it’s always delicious!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we have a go-to salad, too, although yours sounds better!

      ours is: baby spinach, chunks of parmesan, avocado, pine nuts, tomato.

  53. emily says...

    I brought home a paper menu (with descriptions) from a great salad-based restaurant once and ‘borrow’ the recipes when I’m blanking-out on ideas. I still go to the restaurant because somehow their salads still beat mine (and to support a great eatery), but it’s nice to have ideas on hand.

    • Alison says...

      Ordered with 1 click! :)
      Thanks Laurel!

  54. CS says...

    #5 is so true!! My absolute favorite salads lately are with spicy roasted veggies and whole grains (along with greens). Here is one that I can’t get enough of:

    Roasted sweet potatoes with cayenne, barley, clementine oranges, cashews, dried cherries, spinach (dressing: coarse grain mustard, honey, oil, red wine vinegar)
    **recipe based off of: https://www.kwiekcph.com/single-post/2016/04/19/Our-goto-salad

    It may sound strange, but the cold sweet potato/clementine combo is SO addicting… refreshing and filling at the same time.

    Here’s another that is equally as delicious with a rich, creamy texture:

    Roasted cauliflower with red pepper, avocado, feta, sundried tomatoes, barley with garlic, spinach (dressing: oil, lemon)
    **recipe based off of: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/roasted-cauliflower-and-farro-salad-with-feta-and-avocado/

    Serve it warm… and like noted in Stella’s post above, don’t be shy with the salt!

  55. rachel says...

    Try using heartier bases like kale, and shredded cabbage and maybe shredded broccoli stalks, carrots, or beets. They’re crunchier and more filling and if you dress it well in the morning they’ve soaked up the flavors and gotten a bit more relaxed by lunchtime

  56. Clare says...

    I am not so good at packing a salad except during the summer. That’s when I have leftover cold bean salads at home that make it so much easier, as they come with a dressing already. I tend to just add greens and maybe a cheese (thinking of my favorite Smitten Kitchen Black Bean Confetti salad) and enjoy the dressing from the original salad that spreads out nicely with the other greens.

  57. Jules D says...

    It’s funny, I LOVE salt and almost always add some more before eating any dish but I really don’t need it on salads!
    Also I want to spread my love of endives which feel fancy on any salads <3

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes to endives! they also add the best crunch.

  58. Irina says...

    If my salad is to be a full meal, I need it to be pretty substantial, otherwise I won’t feel satisfied and will end up snacking on not-so-healthy things. Adding protein (eggs, chickpeas), fat (avocado, a dollop of full-fat yogurt), and grains (cubed whole-grain bread, cooked barley) helps.

    I don’t usually shop specifically for making a salad but will toss together whatever I have on hand, combining greens, protein, fat, grains, sweetness, acidity, and crunch. A typical winter salad for me is along the lines of the following: a handful of greens, cubed bread, egg, avocado, roasted beets or sweet potatoes, oranges, and walnuts, dressed with a simple vinaigrette (olive oil + balsamic) and salt. Hearty, healthy, and fun to eat thanks to all the different colors, textures, and flavors.

  59. I love mixing up dressings. Homemade dressings are always the best.

  60. This comment is going to make me sound like the pickiest eater. I struggle with salads for lunch. I feel like I can never find a way for them to travel well (I feel this way with most food, really). A salad freshly made at home is great, but packing one for lunch always turns my stomach so I tend to bring picnic style lunches (piece of fruit, nuts, slice of cheese, and chopped veggies like cucumber, celery, and green bell peppers). I’ve also never been a huge fan of dressing, even homemade ones because the lemon mixtures are often too acidic for my taste. But, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Green Goddess dressing is incredible. It’s fresh and creamy and makes your salad feel more luxurious!

  61. claire says...

    Feta (or parm) is a great cheese choice, but try riccota salata on your next salad! Firm, salty, a little goes a long way and will last in the fridge. Works with grain salads, kale salads, spring-y salads with blanched asparagus, roasted veg…anything! You can also spring on a handful of pine nuts ( one of the best deals is at Trader Joe’s) and I agree a fresh squeeze of lemon perks anything right up.

  62. Jo says...

    Adding fat to your salad is necessary! Your body absorbs the nutrients from greens better if you include a healthy fat like olive oil in your dressing or some avocado.

    I also lately have been making a celery-based salad from Gabrielle Hamilton’s episode on PBS’s The Mind of a Chef – it keeps for a few days if you make it in bulk in advance. It seems very simple, but it is awesome! I throw in some quinoa or cous cous to bulk it up a bit, and it is super refreshing and delicious!

    http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/shaved-celery-fennel-radish-salad-buttered-valdeon-toasts/

  63. Amanda says...

    I used to assemble salads at work all the time until I switched to cooking big batches of food on Sunday and bringing leftovers all week. Now that it’s getting warm again, I’m inspired to go back to salads. My general formula is greens + a fruit + a nut+ a cheese+ leftover veggies if I have them. Some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime. With cheese and nuts, I’m usually satisfied with the amount of fat without adding extra oil. When I’m feeling fancy and planning ahead, I also love this article on assembling a roasted veggie and fruit salad (I like roasted pears and sweet potatoes with the lime vinaigrette.)
    http://www.finecooking.com/articles/cyor/hearty-roasted-vegetable-salad.aspx

  64. Julie says...

    And now I’m salivating at my desk over the idea of a proscuitto, feta and grilled peach salad! I have to make this!

  65. My mom always tosses her greens in olive oil first, then vinegar. Vinegar can cause greens to wilt faster, so when you coat them in olive oil first, they’re protected a little longer!

  66. Amanda says...

    When I had a long commute, I would bring a grocery bag full of salad ingredients on Monday (greens, tuna salad, boiled eggs, prepped veggies, sunflower seeds, dressing, etc) and put together a quick salad each day for lunch. I could make it a little bit differently each day, which takes away from the monotony of eating the same sad desk lunch every day. I also kept a nice bar of dark chocolate or two in my drawer for when salad just didn’t do it :)

    Also, mustard greens are a yummy kick to mix in with other greens, if you like spicy!

  67. I always find that I love salads in restaurants but hate the ones I make myself, hopefully these tips will up my salad game! It’s such a healthy lunch but I always feel a slight sense of dread (and a way greater temptation to eat out) when it’s a salad waiting for me in the work fridge.

    • Kat says...

      I feel the exact same way. Why can’t I replicate salad?

  68. Jordan says...

    My boyfriend is a salad genius. He usually makes homemade croutons out of bread, oil and oregano and makes a dressing with spicy mustard, olive oil, lemon, salt and tiny pieces of shallot. We often add beans for protein and usually roast a ton of veggies (carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, radish, asparagus, mushrooms, and lately even greens like broccoli rabe). Also adding some herbs (like parsley or dill) or combining two different types of lettuce is a great way to add flavor.

  69. I’ve been eating a cold lentil salad with sherry vinaigrette this week I adapted from thekitchn.com. With grain salads, dress them while they’re still warm so they absorb all the flavor.
    I added in some feta, roasted squash, walnuts, and red onion. When I pack it in the morning, I throw in some arugula and cherry tomatoes. Tasty!

  70. I love to make a giant salad from finely chopped sturdy greens like kale and cabbage that will keep (dressed even!) for a few days, and then just portion it out for lunches. Trader Joe’s sells a bag of pre-shredded greens called “Cruciferous Crunch,” which is awesome for make-ahead lunches. My favorite add-ins are chickpeas, parmesan cheese, sliced almonds, and a lemon-garlic-parsley vinaigrette: http://reallifedelicious.com/bottled-goo-dressing/

    • Amanda says...

      I love cruciferous crunch! I also liked it cooked up with the Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potato gnocchi as a one-pan meal. But my partner (fairly) doesn’t like that cooked-cabbage smell when I make it.

  71. Catie says...

    I second the suggestion to add a fat! I find it keeps me fuller longer, and it’s a great balance to the acid in the dressing. Avocado and feta (and a little homemade pesto/nut-free pistou, if I’m feeling fancy) is my favorite topper. If you can spring for it and you can find it (and let’s face it, feta can already beva pricey cheese), go for the real deal and get sheep’s milk feta instead of the standard cow’s milk version you find in most US grocery stores. It’s MILES better, so creamy and wonderful, and has much more flavor. Definitely skip the pre-crumbled stuff, which is still pricey but so dry (unless that’s your jam, in which case you should keep on keepin on).

    • Katherine says...

      YES to the add-a-fat!! Otherwise I will eat a salad, feel VERY smug and goop-y for an hour, and then destroy at least five relationships later in the day because I’m full of hanger.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahah great tip!

    • Angeleno says...

      OMG Katherine’s comment below is so funny I had to comment and tell her that.

  72. Thanks for remind me to return to the diet! Need to get rid of some kgs.

  73. cgw says...

    I’d also add that fat is a key component to a great tasting salad. It doesn’t have to be much, but having a little bit of oil to offset the acid is a game changer for me. You could also do good fats like avocado (as a dressing, it’s awesome!), or some other fancy oils. Having that creaminess or that touch of coating of oil really helps to bring out flavors.

  74. The biggest thing for me is having add-ons that pack their own punch of flavor. Like spicy nuts, veggies that have been roasted with garlic and parm (like fennel or broccoli) , and something vinegary, like pickled beets. Adding half an avocado or a cup of farro is a good way to bulk it up, too. And my secret for not-too-punguent onions is to thinly slice them and dunk em in a bowl of ice cold water. It cuts the sharpness. I work at a restaurant, and the chef always makes the best salads for staff meal by just throwing odds and ends into a bowl, tossing it with a good dressing, and seasoning it with a lot of salt and pepper.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Joy, I love these tips so much! Thank you for sharing. xoxo

  75. These are great tips! Something I do with the salad dressing is squeeze it into a sealable plastic bag (like one for sandwiches) and then when it’s time for lunch you just cut the tip of it and it’s like a piping bag full of icing! That way nothing gets soggy and you can control if you want to add more/less as you’re eating it!

    http://thedianaedition.com

  76. Lindsay says...

    Yes to transferring to a big bowl when eating at work! Total game changer. You can mix the salad so much easier and it doesn’t feel as boring when I’m eating it from a fancy bowl that I got a Homegoods for only $7 :)

  77. Emily says...

    I love the advice from Raw Food, Real World (I’m not a raw foodist, but I dabbled about 12 years ago), to see a salad as an ice cream sundae in terms of construction – 1-3 lettuces (a light one, a spicy one, and a dark green), toppings/mix-ins (a salty, a sweet/fruity, a nutty), and “sprinkles” (chopped herbs and salt). It always makes an incredible salad, though these days I mostly stick to one type of green at a time because I like the simplicity.

  78. Emily says...

    Salad is one of my favorites. These tips are spot-on. I would also add that wide mouth weck jars are great for transporting and eating the salad, and will second, third, and fourth the rec to make your own dressing – even the “best” store bought dressings are kind of gross and old tasting. A quality olive oil, vinegar, and flaky sea salt are really all you need to make an excellent dressing that’s quick and easy, as long as you do about 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Such great points – thanks for sharing, Emily! xo

  79. Whitney says...

    A salad is my favorite meal. Changing up the base is important. I love starting with some cooked farro then accessorizing with sturdy salad greens such as arugula, baby kale, or shaved cabbage. Roasted sweet potatoes, a medley of herbs and toasted pecans or walnuts for crunch. Every salad can benefit from a squeeze of lemon. Salads are more interesting when it includes lots of texture, color, and seasoning. And I always eat my salad with a slice of bread or handful of crackers.

  80. Caroline says...

    I usually bring my salad dressing in one of those mini jam jars that you get at hotels. I think they sell them in supermarkets too and they make it very easy to stop your salad getting wilted!

    • Jami says...

      So smart! I also wash and reuse glass spice jars – they’re a great size for salad dressing, small servings of nuts, etc.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg this look so, so good.

    • Caro says...

      Looks amazing!! Will have to make it

  81. Meg says...

    I use one of these – https://cuppow.com/collections/bnto-jar-lunchbox-adaptors

    I pack the greens in a larger container, and the other good stuff (toppings, etc.) in a larger jar, and add a dressing in the little container that fits into the jar. There’s something about combining all of the ingredients together at work that makes it seems fresher and tastier and less like a sad lunch salad.

  82. Carrie says...

    I stopped bringing salad to work because the dressing consistently spills all over my purse/lunchbox, no matter what. I only use homemade dressing so single portions of packaged dressing are a no go for me. Any advice?

    • Carrie says...

      Great idea, Joanna! I keep lots of things for the week on the fridge (hummus and carrots, tortillas and fillings for burritos), so I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me! Looking forward to trying some of those recipes too.

    • Jami says...

      I wash and reuse glass spice jars. The lids USUALLY stay on and don’t leak but I will often put the jar in a plastic bag, just in case!

    • Robin says...

      I like to use little mason jars. They’re heavy but it’s worth it to have a screw top lid I trust!

    • Christy says...

      Mason jars! Dressing on the bottom and work your way up to lighter items. Lettuce goes in last. Transfer it all to a pretty bowl when you’re ready to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • Kristin says...

      Nalgene makes tiny reusable plastic containers that backpackers take into the field for things like oil, hot sauces, soap etc. My husband and I use these for our dressings and never have spills.
      Looks like Amazon sells a kit, or if you live near a camping store they usually have them individually.
      I never understand how people put dressing in the bottom of their salad container… I must be rough with my work bag but it definitely gets tilted and falls over and the salad would be dressed by the time I got to work and soggy by lunch!!

    • Carrie says...

      Thanks everyone! I’ll definitely get a mason jar and keep it in the work refrigerator for the week. Look forward to eating more salads and not having my bag smell like vinegar all the time!

  83. Cindy says...

    Love the salt advice, but don’t salt your salad in the morning, bring some with you and salt just before eating. Salt draws out moisture and will cause your salad to get wilty and soggy!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Great point, Cindy! Thank you. xoxo

  84. I struggle with this so hard. The biggest thing for me with salads for lunch is I get bored of my toppings day in and day out. Lettuce comes in such a large quantity that I have to eat it day after day! I hope some of these tricks help me!

    http://www.the dizzygirls.wordpress.com

  85. Claire says...

    some of my favorite add-ins: leftover re-heated vegetables or a hunk of leftover salmon from dinner the night before, sun-dried tomato stuffed green olives (or any olives), avocado avocado avocado! a scoop of hummus or tuna salad, finely chopped raw broccoli, pickled onions, parmesan cheese, toasted salted pumpkin seeds.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love this idea!! Thanks for sharing, Maria.

    • Jodi says...

      Hate to be contrary, but single-serving products like these create a lot of plastic garbage!