Refreshed and updated, this post outlines the perfect salad recipe plus two DIY toppings and links to more crunchy salad blog posts.
The Perfect Salad
What would be on your ideal salad? Mine would feature a great balance of nutrition and flavor and it would not be a tiny meager salad!
The perfect salad would be plant-based, with leafy greens or a grain/pasta base with vegetables aplenty, topped with fish (preferably salmon!) and it would have lots of different flavors and textures of great cheese and candied nuts woven together with a creamy dressing.
Whether it’s a side salad or a main course, good salads have to have a delicious dressing! No bottles of fat free for me.
My goal when building the perfect salad is always to get a good mix of flavor, texture, and macronutrients.
In this case I went with local greens and canned salmon. A perfectly seared piece of salmon would be ideal, but on this busy Monday canned was most efficient. I knocked out protein, omega-3s and vitamin D in one fell swoop.
Healthy fats also come from an olive-oil based dressing, a local cheese (plus more calcium!) and the almonds.
Yes the almonds have some sugar and butter involved, but the amount is relatively low when mixed in sparingly. And the flavor is oh-so-powerful! I don’t believe you have to have a diet completely void of sugar to be healthy – I just think it needs to be in small doses or on special occasions.
Dates or dried cranberries can add that touch of sweetness as well.
Finally a meal is not complete for me without some long-lasting complex carbohydrates.
In this salad they came in the form of a spinach feta roll, but any kind of complex carbohydrate will do: sweet potato, cooked wheatberries, whole grain croutons, brown rice, toast.
I can eat all the protein in the world, but if I don’t have at least a little carbohydrates at lunch I’ll be hungry an hour later.
Some of my favorite salad toppings include: bell peppers, cherry tomatoes (in the summer!), fresh corn cut off the cob, roasted vegetables, avocado, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, parmesan crisps, truffle almonds, and peas (yes, peas!) Basically anything but red onions 😉
Perfect Salad Ingredients
Here are two of the mini recipes I used to make this one smashing Hugh Jass salad!
This dressing has hints of orange, sweetness from honey and creaminess from Greek yogurt. The perfect hint of creamsicle!
- 2 tbsp olive oil (bonus points if it’s orange flavored!)
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp orange juice (lemon juice can work too but you’ll lose a little of the sicle flavor!)
- 1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- Pinch of kosher salt and pepper
Combine in jar and shake well.
Easy Microwave Candied Nuts
Nothing makes a salad like the sweet, crunchy spice of candied nuts. My spiced pecan recipe is a favorite, but these almonds come together in just minutes in the microwave for those days when you’re a bit impatient. You can certainly make these on the stove top as well if you wish.
Microwave Candied Almonds
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ cup sliced almonds
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Stir to mix. Add almonds and coat with mixture. Allow to cool before enjoying on your salad.
More Salad Ideas
- Salad Recipe Archives: Check out this page for lots of great summer salads
- Love pasta salads? Check out this Summer Pasta Salad or my Dill Pickle Pasta Salad.
- Great Green Salads: Pear and Goat Cheese, Prep Day Kale Salad, and Massaged Kale Caesar
- Grain Salads: Greek Salad with Quinoa, Hot Honey Quinoa Salad, Spiced Millet Salad, and Moroccan Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Dressing Ideas: Every Herb Salad Dressing and White Balsamic