Turn an “oh” at salad into “Oh, wow” with a little imagination and not much effort.
Even the best-dressed leaves can benefit from a sprinkling of nuts or seeds. Just add them right before serving so they stay nice and crunchy.
Greens served naked or barely dressed in a splash of citrus and olive oil will gain greater appeal with a shake of dried fruit or a generous serving of fresh fruit.
Meat is a great salad topper, but don’t overlook beans, wheat germ, granola and canned tuna. Then there’s diced or shaved cheese and green or black olives, marinated or stuffed.
Dry ramen noodles sauteed in butter and sprinkled with the accompanying spice package are a nice change of pace from croutons.
Snipped herbs — chives, mint, parsley, dill come to mind — add bold notes. Leftover rice or lentils, meanwhile, can be added with abandon.
Need more ideas? Pile on fresh or grilled vegetables; onions are especially delicious. If going with fresh vegetables, shredding, chopping, slicing and shaving will all add to the texture of the finished salad.
And don’t overlook sprouts and shoots.
Finally, remember that it’s no crime to double up on salad. Top greens with a creamy macaroni or potato salad and forgo the dressing.
MARINATED CUCUMBER AND CHILI SALAD
Serves 2 to 3
Habaneros are plentiful at Latino markets, but can be difficult to find at some supermarkets. Substitute another spicy pepper. The salad will be just as tasty. The longer the cucumbers marinate, the more tart the salad.
1 cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise and finely chopped
1/2 habanero chili, seeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze of agave nectar
Juice of 1 lemon
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the cucumber, chili and onion in a glass bowl. Toss with olive oil, agave nectar and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate from 1 hour to up to a day before serving.
MIXED GREENS AND STRAWBERRY SALAD
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, and 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 small head butter lettuce, washed, chilled
3 to 4 ounces mixed baby lettuces, washed, chilled
2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Sea salt, black pepper
In bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and orange juice concentrate. Add the marmalade and whisk again until combined. Refrigerate.
Reserve 4 large leaves for plating. Tear remaining leaves into bite-size pieces. Spoon 1 tablespoon of dressing into the center of each of 4 serving plates. Place a whole large leaf of butter lettuce off-center on the plate. Scatter a handful of torn lettuce and a handful of baby greens over the entire plate. Scatter 1/2 cup sliced strawberries and 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds over the greens.
Drizzle each salad with additional tablespoon dressing and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.