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Four Steps to Building a Great-Tasting and Healthy Salad

When the word salad comes to mind what do you think of automatically?

Iceberg lettuce, store bought croutons and a bottled dressing? Shredded cheddar cheese if you’re lucky? Sorry mom, but we’ve come a long way from that.

There’s actually quite a bit that can go into a making a great salad. Sure, we can keep it simple with a lettuce, dressing and a couple other veggies, but if we’re going to make it our meal, let’s do it right. When I compose a salad, there are a few staples that will always be present to build a healthy and well-balanced meal. Let’s discuss:

Greens: Pick the Best Lettuce for Your Salad

Lettuce is usually our main component, the base of our salad. I prefer something with texture, nutrition and of course flavor. This is why I like a mix of greens. I love the fresh crunch of romaine hearts, the pepperiness of arugula and the healthy properties of baby spinach. How you want to chop it is up to you…I like something bite sized so I don’t get vinaigrette all over my mouth with every bite. You shouldn’t need a knife when eating a salad.

Vinaigrette: Pick the Best Dressing for Your Salad

I love comparing salads to pasta. For many years, I worked the pasta station in a handful of Italian restaurants. The thing that was always stressed to me was how to “dress the pasta.” You don’t want the pasta drowning in sauce, just like you don’t want your lettuce sogged-out by a heavy, overpowering dressing. I like my vinaigrettes sharp and flavorful. Not gloopy and sweet. Pick a nice vinegar and a quality oil and that’s all you need.

Fixin’s: Pick the Best Ingredients for Your Salad

So, this is where the fun comes in. Do you want to keep it vegetarian/vegan or go with a nice Italian meat-n-cheese situation? Either way, moderation is the key. Let every ingredient shine or it doesn’t need to be there. Pickled veggies, roasted veggies, cheeses, cured meats, raw veggies, nuts, seeds, grilled meats, chilled meats. It can go on for-ev-er. Just make sure it’s actually healthy and makes sense. No one’s judging you at this point.

Garnishes: Pick the Best Toppings for Your Salad

At this point, a garnish is almost there just to bring everything together and make it look nice. It still must make sense and have a purpose. For me, it’s usually something crunchy that might tie the theme together. For instance, maybe some sesame seeds if it’s an Asian themed salad. Or a rustic crouton on Caesar salad.

We’ve got some new salads we’re highlighting this Spring/Summer. They’re all in-line with a quality composed salad. Check them out on Woodside’s Summer Menu:

  • Kale Caesar
  • Korean Chicken
  • Chopped Salad
  • Garden salad
  • Woodside Green


Chef Nick Janner

Woodside Executive Chef

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