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How to Make a Salad At Home (Ultimate Guide 2021)

Read on to learn the best tips for how to make a salad at home that tastes like it’s from a fancy restaurant.

how to make a salad at home that tastes awesome

The Story of How I Got Obsessed With Making Salad

Walking out of my favorite salad shop, a $12 salad in the compostable brown paper bag, I mulled over that age-old question: why does the salad I make at home leave me feeling less than excited, while spending over $10 for the same thing gives me feelings of euphoria? I couldn’t wait to dive into that giant bowl of expensive leaves! The bags of leaves wilting in my fridge tell a different story. I wondered about how to make a salad like a chef makes a salad.

This moment is from years ago. Since then, I’ve put in a lot of time trying to perfect my salad game. It’s just about perfect. Here I am, sharing everything I discovered…..You need more than just a bowl of lettuce. Yep! Your fancy restaurant salad has dozens of ingredients, all lending flavor, texture, crunch, and visual appeal. Your homemade salad needs a whole lot of ingredients, too. Read on for how to make a salad at home that tastes like it came from a fancy restaurant.

Why You Should Be Interested in Making An Exciting Salad, Too

In many ways, a salad seems like the easiest meal to create. Leaves, meet bowl. Bottle of dressing, meet leaves. That’s it. Dinner is served.
Or is it? Because…. do you really want to come home to a bowl of romaine drowning in the ranch dressing that’s been in your fridge for a year?
If you are trying to eat healthier (or get your family to eat healthier), healthy food needs to be delicious food. Especially if you have kids. But even if you are just young at heart. Our brains crave exciting, stimulating food that looks good, smells good, and tastes good. It’s one reason why processed food, full of overly stimulating flavors, is so hard to resist.

Don’t make a boring bowl of lettuce. Make a salad that tastes, looks, and smells as good as one of those $12 salads from your favorite restaurant. Read on for our top 6 steps to making a salad that any chef would be proud of. Then scroll down for a few of our favorite recipes.

How to Make a Salad At Home Like A Boss

We have six steps laid out for you below. You don’t have to cover all these steps in every meal, but hitting on at least a few of them will up the yumminess factor of your salad tremendously. As a bonus, adding things like healthy fats and protein will help your salad keep you satisfied until dinner. Plus, the more colors and healthy ingredients your meal has, the more vitamins and nutrients it is, too.

Without any more delay, here are the steps:

  1. Step one: The lettuce.

    It’s really not a salad without this. But, here’s a tip: the more types of lettuce you have, the more interesting the final product will be! Kale, romaine, dandelion greens, spinach, the list is endless. Pick at least two for the excellent variety and nutrition.

  2. Step two: More vegetables.

    Pretty much any type of fresh vegetable belongs on a salad. Yes, that including less often selected veggies like fresh broccoli, beets, or corn. If you want to take it to the next level, experiment with grilled, cooked, or pickled veggies. Sauerkraut can be amazing on a salad. So can grilled eggplant. What’s leftover from last night’s dinner? Give that a whirl!

  3. Step three: Something sweet, salty, or herby.

    Think about whether your salad needs an element of sweet (dried or fresh fruit), salt (cheese or salted edamame), or herby (any kind of herb like basil or cilantro). Ever tried grilled pineapple on a salad? You will thank us later.

  4. Step four: Add crunch or texture. 

    We are looking for texture and crunch (and health benefits, too). Seeds and nuts add bite. Warm or cold grains like quinoa or brown rice bring a satisfying flavor and staying power to your bowl.

  5. Step five: Grab a little protein.

    Some of the grains above will give you a dose of protein. You could also include protein super-stars like legumes, hard-boiled eggs, fish, or chicken.

  6. Step six: Dress it up (optional).

    Some salads have so many other ingredients and toppings that you may find that you don’t even a dressing. If you do want one, we recommend either making your own or going with a drizzle of good old olive oil and vinegar.

Ready to make your own dressing? It’s super easy! We love to make two dressings at the start of the week and eat them throughout the week. Just keep them in the fridge and thaw a bit before using, so that the oil will soften again. (Two of our favorites? Lemon garlic and Balsamic Vinaigrette.)

Here are a few salads that we love. See what else you might add to them to up the awesome factor even more.

In a Nutshell

I still sometimes enjoy a $12 meal from my favorite salad restaurant. However, now I know how to make a salad at home that taste amazing. So, now I can eat out because I want someone else to handle the cooking. Not because I can’t make something just as delicious at my own house!

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