How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Monday was the first day of spring, and I am SO excited that my (second) favorite season is here. I think fall still holds first place in my heart, but not by much! We didn’t have a super cold winter here in Texas- it was 70 degrees on Christmas day- which I am both grateful for, and a little nervous about. On one hand, I hate the cold (I blame it on being a Texan), so having weather in the 50s and 60s was a-okay with me! However, I have already been bit by a mosquito, which is only a sign of how absolutely AWFUL they are going to be this year. Eek! But for now I’m going to enjoy the gorgeous weather, and worry about those pesky bugs later. 

I don’t know about you, but during the colder months, I love chowing down on some delicious roasted veggies. However, when the weather starts to warm up, I am all over a light and refreshing salad. On my girls trip to Fredericksburg the other day we had one of THE best salads I’ve ever had before, and it inspired me to write this post on how to build your very own amazingly good salad. I mean, check out that salad! It was to die for. 

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

So today I’m sharing my tips and tricks on creating a salad that you will absolutely love. Y’all… salads are so easy to make, and the versatility is endless. I feel like they get a bad rap for not being filling enough or lacking in flavor, but I’m here to dispel that notion and help you out! 

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad

Step 1: Pick your greens

The greens are going to be the base to your salad, and this is where you set the tone for your salad. Wanting something crunchy? Go for romaine hearts. Looking for a bright, fresh feel? I’d recommend spinach or baby kale. How about a creamy and slightly crunchy salad? Then try out some butter lettuce, or a spring mix. Want something with a peppery kick? Arugula is the green for you!
There are SO many varieties of greens out there, and it’s so fun to try them out in different combinations. 

Greens to try:
Green or Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Spinach
Arugula
Green or Red Cabbage
Escarole
Butterhead
Kale or Baby Kale
Watercress

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Step 2: Add your favorite veggies

This is one of my favorite parts, because you get to add all kinds of textures, flavors and variety to your salads. You can leave your veggies raw, or cook them before tossing into your greens. I think both methods have their time and place, depending on the veggies I use. I love using fresh cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots and finely chopped asparagus. When it comes to cooked veggies, I especially love charred corn for a smoky flavor, roasted brussels sprouts, and sautéed mushrooms. The veggies you try all depend on the flavors you are going for in your salad! 
Rule of thumb 1: Pick 3 different veggies for your salad that have a variety of textures and flavors that will go well together. 
Rule of thumb 2: Buy seasonally and at farmers markets! Not only will the veggies taste WAY better, but you’re also supporting local farmers and business owners.

Veggies to try:
Cherry tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes
Corn
Carrots (shredded and chopped)
Mushrooms
Red and green bell peppers
Red onion
Radish
Broccoli
Cucumber
Zucchini
Squash
Green onion
Brussel Sprouts

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Step 3: Throw in a curveball

Here’s where you start to give your salad its character. These curveball ingredients make your salad fun, unique and full of flavor. In the spring and summer I like to add in some fruits to give my salad a fresh, vibrant flavor. My favorite fruits to add are apples, strawberries, blueberries and jicama. I also love adding in a bit of crunch here, with things like toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or crushed tortilla strips. Another way to add a lot of flavor and variety is using chopped dried fruit and fresh herbs. 

Curveballs to try:
(Fruit)
Strawberries
Apples
Blueberries
Raspberries
Watermelon
Mandarin Oranges
Grapes
(Crunchy)
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Tortilla strips
Granola
Sesame Seeds
(Extra flavor)
Dried fruit
Fresh herbs
Pickled veggies

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Step 4: Sprinkle in some fats

I’ve said this time and time again, fats are good, not bad! Especially when you eat the right ones that your body needs in order to function correctly. Adding fats to my salad is key to making it more filling, and helping me feel satisfied after eating. It also adds more flavor to your salad (can you see I’m all about that flavor?) and hey… who doesn’t love a little bit of cheese and nuts on their salad?

Fats to try:
(Cheese)
Cheddar
Gouda
Havarti
Parmesan
Goat
Feta
Cottage
(Nuts)
Cashews
Almonds (silvered and whole)
Pistachios
Pecans
Walnuts
Pine nuts
(Other)
Avocado
Bacon
Chia Seeds

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Step 5: Top with grains and protein

I love finishing off my salads with some tasty grains and protein. Pick ones that compliment the veggies and extras you’ve already added to your salad, to make sure the flavors will marry well together. When you cook your protein, you can add herbs and spices that will go well with your salad toppings, and you can follow the same guidelines when preparing your grains. Having these additions to your salad will also help it keep you full and happy all day long! 

Grains to try:
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Wild Rice
Pasta (like rotini or bowtie)
Crouton
Farro
Rice/quinoa noodles
Protein to try:
Chicken
Turkey
Steak
Fish (salmon and shrimp)
Taco meat
Hard Boiled Egg
Legumes (black beans, kidney beans or lentils)

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Step 6: Dress it up! 

Now comes the best part of all! It’s time to dress up your salad. I used to hate dressing, because it was way too overpowering in my salad, and I knew it was high in fat and calories that I didn’t need. However, when I started making my own salad dressings, I was blown away by how DELICIOUS the salad was, because I was using fresh ingredients that paired perfectly with my salad. It is so easy to make a dressing at home in just a few minutes, and you will love that you can control what goes in it. Trust me on this one, a few minutes in the kitchen reaps is worth it to make an amazing homemade dressing! 

Dressings to try:
Creamy Avocado Dressing
Sesame Seed Dressing
Basic Vinaigrette
(from Food, Pleasure and Health)
OR…
Any of the dressings below!

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

The Three Commandments to building a good salad:

1. Find ingredients that go well together. (Below I’ve also shared some of my favorite combos.)
2. Have a variety of textures in your salad to keep things interesting and fun to eat! 
3. Always opt for homemade dressing.

Three Salads to Try!

Berry Arugula Salad

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup slice strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
2 Tbsp walnuts
2 tsp chia seeds

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame seeds

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com


Spinach and Chickpea Salad

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups baby spinach
1/3 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced brussel sprouts (raw)
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 small avocado
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com


Veggie Romaine Salad

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups chopped romaine
1 radish, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated carrot
1/3 cup sliced grape tomatoes
2 Tbsp sliced almonds

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried basil
Salt & pepper

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
What are your tips on making a tasty salad?
Do you have a meal you love making in the springtime?

How to Build an Amazingly Good Salad - tips and tricks on crafting your next favorite salad! | read more at happilythehicks.com

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What do you think

  1. Candy Kage

    March 22nd, 2017 at 6:54 am

    There are so many good and different kinds of greens to start a salad off with don’t be boring. Somedays I add a salad dressing and somedays I just enjoy the complete taste of the salad.

  2. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:41 am

    I agree with you on the dressing part! Especially if the salad is loaded with lots of juicy fruits and veggies, I don’t need any dressing at all.

  3. Maps & Monograms

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Wow! There are millions of combinations here! I love salads!

  4. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:40 am

    That’s what I love the most about salads- the sky’s the limit when it comes to all the different combinations you can make! Sometimes I forget all the different flavors I can try, and end up in a salad rut, but now I don’t have to!

  5. Ana@CelebratingSunshine

    March 23rd, 2017 at 7:34 am

    So many flavors and textures! Your salads look amazing! I will definitely try all the different combinations.

  6. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks Ana! I’ve been eating them throughout the week and they really are so so good. I love how easy it is to make flavorful salads!

  7. Corey Wheeland

    March 23rd, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I’m so excited for spring and all the salads I can make with all the great veggies right now. I’ve been loving putting asparagus on mine. It’s been so cheap lately!

  8. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Me too, girl! #allthesalads
    And yes yes yes to the asparagus! I was shocked when I bought some the other day and it was SO cheap. I’m roasting some tomorrow night, and will be chopping up some raw later for a tasty salad- yum!

  9. Krissie Aguilar

    March 23rd, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Great post! I love making salad at home and your options are endless!

  10. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Haha my hubby and I had fun coming up with the different things to include in the list! It’s so fun to mix and match the different flavors, rather than having the same old salad every day.

  11. Robin

    March 23rd, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    This is an awesome list – both for those who don’t know how to build a great salad yet, and for those who do but need some new ideas! Another veggie I’d add to your list would be artichoke hearts – you can grab a can for just $2-3, and they’re SO good in a variety of salads!

  12. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Yes! To be honest, making this list helped me think of some fun salad recipes that I hadn’t tried yet. And YUM! I didn’t think of artichoke hearts for a salad, but that sounds absolutely delicious. I definitely have to give that a try!!

  13. Babies to Bookworms

    March 23rd, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Yum! All of these combinations sound delicious!

  14. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 24th, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Thanks girl! They are SO tasty, and I can’t wait to try out some more combos :) Which was your favorite?

  15. Danielle Siero

    March 24th, 2017 at 6:00 am

    This is a great tip list! I love that you have different “food groups” to choose from. :)

  16. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 24th, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Thanks Danielle! I feel like dividing it up like that really helps you make sure you’re getting al the different food groups that you need to have a balanced diet.

  17. Kelly Bandas

    March 24th, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I love how you use the verb “build” instead of “make”. When I want a salad, I want one that is BUILT!!! These look like great suggestions for keeping your salad exciting. Definitely going to pin this one for later!

  18. Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks

    March 24th, 2017 at 8:25 am

    AMEN! I love salads with layers of flavors and ingredients. Yum yum yum! And thanks for pinning! Can’t wait to hear about the salads you build. <3

I'm a sinner saved by grace who loves staying active and eating healthy. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Isaac, and I'm mama to James and an adorable puppy named Lillie.

MORe

I'M BECCA, AND I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE.

healthy living blogger

EULESS TEXAS

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