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    Mar 14, 2020

    26 Ways To Make Salads That You're Actually Excited To Eat

    It's time for a final farewell to boring piles of lettuce.

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    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us how they make their salads feel more exciting, and they delivered! Here are their tips for making salads the best meal of the day:

    1. Make an effort to include bright colors, like a mix of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and a vibrant protein like salmon to make it look more ~visually appealing~. Plus, by adding a wider variety of fresh ingredients, your salad will have more interesting flavors.

    Honestly Yum

    "Add a fruit, crunch, zing, protein, and have at least three bright colors." —kitwenchf

    Check out Honestly Yum for this superfood salad recipe.

    2. Make the whole thing instantly more appealing with your go-to cheese. It turns out a forkful of fresh mozzarella makes everything under the sky more drool-worthy.

    Netflix

    "Regardless of how healthy I’m trying to be, I will never compromise on cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings." —mostlymelissa

    "Put cheese in it." —kngreyh

    3. Include some meat to add extra flavor and make it a meal that actually leaves you satisfied. Plus, you'll get a nice dose of protein so you can feel energized for the rest of the day — bonus points for mixing it with superfoods like blueberries and avocado.

    Back To The Book Nutrition

    "Use a variety of proteins, don't just limit to chicken, and experiment with different dressings!" —lashamaries

    "Use a blend of iceberg and romaine with a marinated, grilled, boneless, skinless, chicken breast. Add cherry tomatoes, chunked sharp cheddar, and provolone with a good creamy dressing." —Julie Cobb, Facebook User

    "I like green leaf lettuce, spinach leaves, cucumber, green peppers, sweet onion, croutons, cashews and/or almonds, and whatever meat is left over from roast beef or chicken with Thousand Island Dressing. Oh, and grape tomatoes!" —Sue Rauls, Facebook User

    Check out Back To The Book Nutrition for this superfood salad with blue cheese and chicken recipe.

    4. Or! Use a mix of beans if you're a vegetarian. You'll still get your source of protein (according to the USDA, there are 12g of protein in one cup of black beans), and get a bigger range of new flavors and textures.

    The Full Helping

    "Add pinto beans. Most people put black beans or kidney beans, I personally like pinto beans on mine. Also, I like a rainbow salad with a dijon mustard and balsamic vinaigrette. Basically use vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Red: tomatoes and bell peppers. Orange: bell peppers. Yellow: bell peppers and fresh corn( uncooked). Green: all the greens you can think of. Blue/Purple: cabbage. Rainbow salad!" —homeyaardvark20

    "We're vegetarian so we don't add meat, but I put cooked/canned beans, chickpeas, corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, spring mix, tortilla chips strips, cranberries, cabbage, onions and some dressing." —Ana Cosic, Facebook User

    Check out The Full Helping for this protein-packed black and kidney bean quinoa salad recipe.

    5. Drizzle a bit of honey onto your salad so your lunch has a ~sweet note~. Mix it into a DIY salad dressing, or find ingredients that already have it, like honey goat cheese or honey-glazed walnuts.

    The Endless Meal

    "I add a touch of honey to a very basic dressing made of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. Then I add salt and pepper to taste." —maysoonsheikh

    Check out The Endless Meal for this honey, apple cider, and dijon mustard dressing recipe.

    6. Explore new salad recipes based on what's seasonal to ~mix things up~ from your usual routine. It'll help prevent you from feeling like you're in a meal rut — you may even discover a new favorite ingredient!

    Tasty

    "A salad should always, ALWAYS, be fresh. So use seasonal, fresh vegetables and herbs. For a little something extra, you can top it with roasted nuts, fruits, parmesan, or meat." —quirkydeer89

    Check out more from BuzzFeed Tasty to see what's in season for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.

    7. Chop your salad with a U-shaped knife to both create a new texture for your lettuce and make sure your dressing is evenly distributed (making the whole thing more flavorful).

    Walmart

    "I used to hate salad until I got a chopped salad knife as a gift one year. It’s this U-shaped blade with handles that you rock over the lettuce with to chop. This really helps the lettuce absorb whatever dressing you put on so you can basically consider salad a vehicle of dressing consumption. LOVE IT!" — erinwhit03

    "I don’t love earthy or bitter lettuces. So I take romaine and spinach, throw it in a large bowl and use my chopper. This provides a great texture and the dressing is more evenly distributed on chopped salad." —stephanier4608d931a

    Get a U-shaped salad chopper from Walmart for $14.99.

    8. Try cooking your vegetables in a new way (like roasting, grilling, or individually spicing) to give your salad a whole different flavor than usual.

    Bev Cooks

    "Honestly, I learned how to cook vegetable dishes. I learned how to roast vegetables and how to make Chinese and Indian vegetarian recipes packed full of vegetables with delicious spices, flavors, and textures. Eating your veggies does not exclusively mean 'salad'!" —BrokenTryst

    "ROASTED VEGETABLES, omg. I have a harder time digesting most raw veggies, other than greens (except for raw kale), so I love prepping a ton of roasted veggies, and then just putting that on a bed of greens with maybe some fruit chunks and nuts/seeds. Also, since I roast my veggies in oil, seasonings, and usually finish them with vinegar or lemon juice for some acidity; you don't really need dressing because the 'sauce' is already there and flavorful on the roasted veggies." —riley1st

    "Roasted veggies are amazing! Almost any vegetable can be simply roasted in some oil, salt, and pepper, and be absolutely divine!" —lovelywolf

    Check out Bev Cooks for this roasted veggie salad with arugula, marcona almonds, and chimchurri recipe.

    9. Aim to include as many "filling" ingredients as you can — it doesn't have to be just your protein. We're talking hard boiled eggs, different kinds of nuts, avocado, or even *several* cheeses. Your belly will be *so* much happier than when your salad was mainly lettuce.

    Disney

    "I start with romaine lettuce, then add diced tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg, shredded cheese, chicken, croutons, and ranch. It’s very filling and delicious!" —tawanab

    10. Incorporate different temperatures to make it feel like a heartier meal. A bit of warm salmon mixed with Greek salad ingredients and chilled avocado will be a comforting midday treat that leaves you h a p p y.

    Cafe Delights

    "Temperature and texture differences are important! Use warm squash, mushrooms, chicken, or tofu with cold lettuce(s), creamy avocado with crunchy onions, and juicy fruits with chewy nuts. Obviously the stuff differs for whatever kind of salad I’m wanting (steak salad, squash and walnut, Cobb, etc.), but the basics of hot/cold, creamy/crunch, sweet/salt etc. remain the same." —Kat Skarsen, Facebook User

    Check out Cafe Delights for this Mediterranean avocado salmon salad recipe.

    11. Include *crunchy ingredients*, like nuts, seeds, or your fave croutons to make each and every bite super satisfying. Plus, they'll add new flavor to your dish!

    Pinch Of Yum

    "A good salad will always have a big bed of mixed greens, a few raw veggies, a couple of roasted veggies (I love corn and mushrooms), something crunchy (sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts), a warm protein of your choice (chickpeas, tempeh, chicken, salmon, etc), and possibly cheese (parmesan, feta). Always salt and pepper and I'm always making new dressings. I've got about eight in my rotation." —a45a628d99

    "Add nuts to your salads! I love to add walnuts or cashews to a salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. It adds such a nice crunch to the salad and it’s good for you!" —lizzyd45c46fd90

    "Roasted pumpkin seeds! A lil bit of crunch makes it feel fuller." —carlf4539e625c

    Check out Pinch of Yum for this cashew crunch salad with sesame dressing recipe.

    12. Make your own dressing so you can explore new recipes without having to spend money on trial-and-error store-bought dressing. Not to mention, this'll help you get more ~adventurous~ — may I suggest some jalapeño?

    A Beautiful Plate

    "My secret to making any salad amazing is my roasted red pepper dressing. Toss olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, and roasted red peppers into a blender. Blend until smooth, and the amount of flavor it packs is incredible. It also makes a great bread dip!" —l44172b2d2

    "Start with a really good basic, homemade vinaigrette. You'll need good quality olive oil, vinegar of choice (red wine, sherry, balsamic), minced shallot, dijon mustard, maple syrup or honey for a touch of sweetness, salt and fresh pepper. Add one part vinegar, add the shallot, and let them marinate in the vinegar for a minute. Whisk in the mustard and maple syrup or honey, then slowly whisk in three parts oil, and season with salt and pepper. Get out a big bowl and toss dressing gently with choice of greens and other add-ins such as cheese, toasted nuts, roasted veggies." —saladgrl

    Check out A Beautiful Plate for this cilantro, lime, and jalapeño vinaigrette recipe.

    13. Or! Find a dressing that you LOVE so you always look forward to eating your salad. It turns out sometimes the only way to eat our veggies is to smother it in dressing.

    Freshly Chopped

    "I use Thousand Island." —hitekx1

    "Honestly it quite often comes down to dressings. Find a couple you like and always keep them in your fridge. My fave salad at home? Mixed greens, strawberries, feta cheese, and Olive Garden salad dressing. Don't skimp on the spinach, either! The other dressing we always have at home is Kraft ranch. Always." —Charlene Dee, Facebook User

    "Olive Garden Italian dressing will make even the plainest of plain salads taste amazing. It's great for marinating steaks, too." —Brittany Peck, Facebook User

    "I make salads for a living. It’s all about the homemade dressings!" —Cindy Kinnin Buchanan, Facebook User

    "The trick is to pour your favorite salad dressing over your greens and mix it up. Don't dip or just pour it on top." —Becky Najera Moya, Facebook User

    14. But when in doubt, turn to just about everyone's favorite: good old ranch dressing. Instant happiness.

    FOX

    "Two words: RANCH DRESSING." —Ashley Garcia, Facebook User

    "Litehouse Homestyle Ranch is the best bottled ranch that doesn't taste gross, and is a little bit healthier than a homemade mix of mayo and buttermilk. Nuts and seeds are always good, lots of veggies (I recently became obsessed with putting red cabbage in my salads), croutons, chickpeas, some parmesan, or feta cheese. Delicious." —a43920c533

    "I add the best part of a salad, the dressing. Hidden Valley Ranch and a lot of it! The OG of dressing. And I'm fine with that!" —Stephanie Bougie Purvis, Facebook User

    "Regular salad (romaine, cucumber, green onion) with little squares of feta, then pour on light tasting olive oil and then crack a lot of black pepper. My favorite way ever to eat salad. I also like some three cheese ranch once in a while, or peppercorn ranch." —Minerva Minoo, Facebook User

    "Homemade ranch dressing and a little crunch 😋." —Jo Lynne Vielbig, Facebook User

    Get a bottle of Kraft Hidden Valley Ranch dressing from Amazon for $7.52.

    15. Toss in some "fun" ingredients to make it feel more exciting, like a fruit you've never tried before or even just a new approach to an ingredient you use all the time (hello, buffalo cauliflower). They don't have to be complicated — just anything that takes your salad from boring to flavorful!

    Blissful Basil

    "Add fun stuff to them! I like to have a nice dressing, avocado, tortilla strips, and cherry tomatoes to keep it pretty simple, but still taste good. Before going vegan I'd use a spicy ranch and hard boiled eggs in there, too." —Mo

    "I use arugula, rare roast beef finely sliced, julienned red chili peppers, olive oil, lime juice (lots), and grated parmigiano reggiano. To die for." —Gael Larche, Facebook User

    "I love putting in diced Fuji apples. It adds such a different taste to the rest of the salad!" —aliciag4978dbd25

    Check out Blissful Basil for this buffalo cauliflower salad recipe.

    16. Plan each ingredient by texture so your salad feels more diverse. When adding something soft, like roasted squash, counter it with some crunchy onions and pomegranate seeds. One easy hack: kale always adds a ton of texture.

    Brooklyn Supper

    "Think of different textures and contrasting flavors! Add nuts and seeds, or dried cranberries and mandarin oranges." —victoriad13

    "You have got to have a multitude of other ingredients to put in it other than just the leafy greens. Get yourself a nice balance of flavor profiles, textures, and colors. I like a mix of vegetable, some fruit, some cheese, some crunch, and something acidic. If you wanting some protein, you can add some egg or whatever meat/tofu you would like." —lovelywolf

    "I like salads with seven different colors and textures, not including the dressing." —Shannon Marie, Facebook

    "First, mix up your greens! Add some like arugula, frisée, and butterhead lettuce to the common lettuce. Second, come up with interesting dressing flavors. Try kimchi mayo/vinaigrette, strawberry vinaigrette, mango yogurt dressing, etc. Third, add varying texture and flavor with room temperature cheeses, candied/toasted nuts, fried wontons instead of croutons, raw thinly sliced cabbage, nori sheets, and crunchy bacon bits. Fourth, add fruit for sweetness! Try cantaloupes, mangoes, strawberries, kumquats, grapefruit, etc. And lastly, SALT YOUR GREENS!" —EverythingAndNothing

    Check out Brooklyn Supper for this peal couscous, kale, and roasted squash salad recipe.

    17. Squeeze some lemon over your salad at the end for a refreshing kick, or mix it with some olive oil for a zesty dressing. Just this one cheap ingredient can make a world of difference for flavor.

    VICE

    "Squeezing a lemon over it really adds that extra kick." —aaliyahbain20001

    "Make a very lemony homemade salad dressing and add nuts or seeds. And put all your veggies in there." —Lori Reid, Facebook User

    "EVOO and lemon, plus salt and pepper. Best dressing ever!" —Donna Sardella, Facebook User

    18. Load 👏 it 👏 up 👏. Don't be shy when it comes to adding A LOT of ingredients — it'll make your salad so much more satisfying *and* flavorful! Try to stick with a theme if you're worried about flavors clashing — a big Cobb salad will always do the trick.

    40 Aprons

    "The perfect salad: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, bean sprouts, onion, bell peppers, apples, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, carrots, boiled eggs, bacon bits, cheese, salt n' pepper, red wine vinegar, and either Thousand Island or French dressing. The more the better. We like loaded salads in our house!" —lisiking12715

    "I put tons of great stuff in it: bacon, feta, mozzarella balls, olives, croutons, artichoke hearts, steak or chicken, and fruit, depending on the greens I’m using." —Crystal Jackson-Moore, Facebook User

    "My all-time favorite is the following: shredded iceberg, cherry tomatoes cut in half, red onion marinated in lemon juice (you don't have to marinate it more than 10 minutes), cucumber slices, crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries for sweetness, and some nuts or seeds for a bit of crunch (it's often sunflower seeds). Top it with an olive oil, mustard and balsamic vinegar dressing, and you have the most delicious salad ever 😋🥗." —Marion Carole-Anne Douliez, Facebook User

    "I add all the the things to my salads, so for instance if I'm making a salad with ranch, I'll put sunflower seeds, cooked quinoa, maybe some hummus, some type of beans, chopped lunch meat, cheese, maybe bacon, chopped hard boiled egg, raw broccoli and cauliflower, cucumber and dill pickle." —Tiffanie Lynn Hudson, Facebook User

    Check out 40 Aprons for this loaded chicken Cobb salad recipe.

    19. Switch up your bases so you don't always stick to the same exact lettuce. A hearty mix of your favorite veggies and a grain base (i.e. farro, quinoa, or couscous) can be a welcome break from arugula and spring greens.

    Pinch of Yum

    "A salad does not require lettuce! Try different bases — grains, roasted vegetables, various cabbage varieties, endive or radicchio, citrus, among a million other things. Bring it all together with an acid and an oil. Don't forget to season. Congratulations, you just made a seriously delicious salad." —desgroch

    "I actually don’t put any lettuce! I pick my favorite vegetables (bell peppers, corn, carrots, purple cabbage, avocado, cucumbers, onions, etc.), top it with cheese, tortilla strips for some crunch, and end with a southwest dressing with lots of pepper! Lettuce doesn’t have much nutritional value and I always just want the veggies anyways." —graceleea

    Check out Pinch of Yum for this couscous, peach, avocado, and corn recipe.

    20. Spice things up — literally. A bit of hot sauce can introduce an entirely new flavor profile to every single ingredient. Or! Cook your protein in hot sauce before adding it in.

    Lifetime

    "I love pepperoncini and crunchy jalapeños. They are amazing!" —Cinnamon Charming Fear, Facebook User

    "I love to put hot sauce on my salad with crispy onions and blue cheese crumbles." —Heather Crawford, Facebook User

    "I love baby spinach, butter lettuce, grilled chicken breast tossed in some hot sauce, carrots, blue cheese, cucumber, salt, pepper, and some blue cheese dressing." —Rachael Johnson, Facebook User

    If you want to add a kick, but don't dare to use ~really spicy~ hot sauce, Mike's Hot Honey is loved by many for mixing sweet and spicy.

    21. Add some fried chicken for a welcome change that seriously delivers both crunch *and* awesome flavor. Whoever said salads are boring has never tried this.

    Chelsea's Messy Apron

    "I have found that adding fried chicken to ANY salad makes me super happy." —Lisa Cunningham Mayfield, Facebook User

    Check out Chelsea's Messy Apron for this crispy chicken salad recipe.

    22. Think of your salad by layer to break down what each ingredient contributes — try to plan so that you get a mix of flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and spicy. It'll help your whole salad come together, instead of tossing in whatever you can find.

    Closet Cooking

    "You definitely want a few layers in the flavor and texture departments. I try to cover four flavors in every salad: bitter, salty, sweet, sour. Bitter can be your bitter greens and vegetables, sweet can be fruits/dried fruits, salty is typically the protein I add, and sour is in the dressing (lemon or citrus). This gives varying textures, layers of flavor (it is said you want every taste group represented in each meal), and lots of variety options. I have never made a bad salad! I also add herbs too — rosemary, parsley, cilantro, thyme, etc. Whatever sounds good with the rest of my mix. Experimentation is the way to go." —babysays

    "I love crunchy romaine in my salads. I add some kind of fruit like apples, cranberries, or strawberries. I also use a good crumbly stinky cheese like feta or blue cheese, plus good meat like grilled chicken, or ham and turkey. Then I use something crunchy like croutons, almonds or walnuts. Throw in cucumbers and tomatoes. It's all finished off with a great vinaigrette dressing." —Heather Anne, Facebook User

    "I use green leaf lettuce and butterhead lettuce mixed with shredded brussel sprouts (raw) and/or cabbage, cheddar cheese (sharper the better), green onion, bacon, a lightly breaded or grilled chicken, topped with half blue cheese dressing and half Catalina dressing. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds, pepitas, and/or cashews. It's perfection that I would eat every day." —Courtney C Biggerstaff, Facebook User

    Check out Closet Cooking for this chicken shawarma salad recipe.

    23. Season each and every ingredient with salt and pepper to really bring out the flavor in everything. It takes a mere second, but makes a huge difference.

    VH1

    "Salt and pepper make all the difference in the world. A simple green salad with olive oil and lemon is delicious if you season it." —callipepla

    "Add salt/pepper/garlic powder to your veggies BEFORE your dressing and just let it rest for a bit" —Emily Federico, Facebook User

    24. Include some bacon! It'll bring a mix of salt and crunch to make your lunch extra tasty. Plus, this'll make salads more appealing to die-hard bacon lovers.

    Drizzle & Drip

    "Add bacon. Bacon is a legit salad ingredient." —Anthony Maguire, Facebook User

    Check out more from Drizzle and Drip for this BLT pasta salad recipe.

    25. Mix meat and fruit together for an interesting combo of savory and sweet. They go surprisingly well together, and make the whole salad feel more refreshing.

    Peas and Crayons

    "I usually add different meat and strawberries together." —isabelle985

    "I use strawberries and bacon. I make the bacon pretty small and very crunchy. The combo of sweet and salty really adds taste and the bacon adds another texture." —suzannapandat

    "My go-to salad: romaine, apples or mangoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, cracked black pepper, diced deli meat! I don't even need dressing for it because the avocado provides the creaminess and the black pepper gives it a lot of flavor. Yum!" —pma0413

    "I like vinaigrette sauces, meats, seeds, nuts, even orange segments or other fruit can really bring flavors through 😍." —Carly Davies, Facebook User

    Check out Peas and Crayons for this strawberry steak salad recipe.

    26. Finally, add something you'll really look forward to so your salad feels like a ~treat~. Start by thinking of your favorite foods, and brainstorm how to transform them into a salad.

    Platings and Pairings

    "I always make sure to add one thing I really look forward to! The dressing/an avocado, just things that are my favorite and maybe not the healthiest, but I think better than eating French fries for the eighth day in a row!" —Kerie Mainord, Facebook User

    "I'm a big fan of my own version of taco salad, personally. Just use taco meat of your choice, sprinkle over a base of chopped lettuce of your choice, top with salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese, then roughly crumble hard shell tacos onto that. Mix together, and voilà, taco salad." —Mercedes Hardy, Facebook User

    "I LOOOOVE feta and kalamata olives, so any salad with those automatically feels decadent." —Julie Balagia Forman, Facebook User

    Check out Platings and Pairings for this cheeseburger salad recipe.

    Bon appétit!

    E!

    The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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