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Building a Balanced Salad ⚖️🥗

Building a Balanced Salad ⚖️🥗

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A balanced salad has about six to eight ingredients - for example, two lettuces, two veggies, one dressing, and 1-2 toppings. A salad with too few components can be a bit meh (especially if it’s a main course salad). Too many ingredients become a jumble of flavors that can be overwhelming & confusing. Also, your chance of mixing ingredients that don’t mesh well together (e.g., cranberries and anchovies) increases. 

The Four Layers of a Balanced Salad: 

  • 1 - Base (Lettuce/Greens) (pick 1-2):

    • Soft: butter, spinach, arugula

    • Crunchy: kale, romaine, cabbage, iceberg  

  • 2 - Body (Vegetables) (pick 1-3):

    • Soft root: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets (roasted), onions

    • Tender veg: tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms

    • Crunchy root: carrots, radishes, beets (raw)

    • Crunchy veg: cucumbers, fennel, celery, peppers 

  • 3 - Dressing (base + flavorings): 

    • Oil: Olive oil, walnut, avocado, sesame

    • Acid/vinegar: lemon, balsamic, white/red/champagne/rice, apple cider 

    • Creamy: yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, tahini, peanut butter

    • Seasoning: salt (e.g., kosher, flakes) & pepper (white, peppercorn)

    • Allium: shallot, garlic, chives, onion

  • 4 - Toppings (pick 0-2):

    • Crunchy: croutons, breadcrumbs, nuts, seeds, sprouts

    • Salty: olives, parmesan, feta

    • Creamy: cheese, avocado  

    • Umami: olives, parmesan, tahini, anchovies

    • Sweet: sun-dried tomatoes, pears, apples, oranges, dried fruit  

    • Protein: beans (e.g., lentils, chickpeas, black), eggs (e.g., poached/medium boiled), tofu, chicken, tinned or smoked fish, salmon, shrimp, steak

    • Starch: sweet potatoes, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, brown rice, farro, barley 

📓 Notes, Tips & Tricks: 

  • Some veggies are best cooked (e.g., asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, edamame, peas, string beans) 

  • Cut round veggies & fruits (e.g., tomatoes, grapes) in half if you have time - this makes spearing them with a fork easier   

  • If you have a mandoline or grater, put it to work! Some veggies are a bit overpowering in taste or feel if not cut thin (e.g., radish, carrot, fennel, onions, celery, zucchini) 

  • Stick with 1-2 proteins max to avoid overkill 

  • Add soft, flaky items (e.g., tofu, fish) at the end to ensure they hold together 

  • Chop or tear large pieces of protein for easier eating (e.g., poached/roasted chicken) 

📓 Salad Toppings Reference Guide

🎓 Further Study


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