Sweet oranges, salty olives, bright pomegranate seeds, pepitas, and feta- this kale salad really shines!

Healthy, Fast, Fresh and Delicious!

Fast Fresh salads are a lunch staple around our house. They are an opportunity to pack in lots of vitamins into a meal, which can really give your mood and energy levels a boost. The bright colors and fresh flavors bring instant satisfaction. And making up your own flavor combinations makes salads all the more fun!

Salads are a great way to use up leftovers, too. Leftover steak, chicken, beans and fish can all add delicious protein to your salad. The salad pictured above is a frequent flier at our house because the ingredients are always on hand. But you can build your own Fast, Fresh Salad with endless variations by using this formula: base + vegetable + protein + flavor punch + crunch = a Fabulous Fast Fresh Salad!

How to build your own Fast Fresh Salads?

Variety is the spice of life and using the following formula will help you create nearly endless delicious combinations for your Fast Fresh Salads. The key is to choose one or more items from each category to build your meal. Take a look at what is in your pantry or refrigerator and start styling your salad!

  • Start with greens: iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, mixed greens, arugula, kale, shaved Napa cabbage.
  • Add vegetables: sliced peppers, cucumber, shaved carrot, tomatoes, onion, shaved fennel or zucchini ribbons.
  • Pick a protein: canned beans, hard boiled egg, grilled chicken, hummus, falafel, smoked trout/salmon, sliced steak.
  • Toss a punch of flavor (or two): olives, sliced pepperoncini, dried cranberries, dried cherries, orange segments, grapefruit sections, raspberries, shaved apples, sliced pear, watermelon, pickled onions, feta, or parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkle with crunch: walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, crispy bacon, celery, jicama, raw asparagus, or radishes all add great texture.
  • Drizzle a dressing: red wine vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, buttermilk ranch, sesame ginger vinaigrette, Ceasar, pesto, citrus vinaigrette (lemon/grapefruit/orange/lime).
  • For next level flavor sprinkle on some herbs: cilantro, mint, parsley, basil.

House Favorites

Here are some of our favorite combinations for Fast Fresh Salads. If you’ve never tasted some of the items together, fear not, but prepare to have your mind blown! I’ve adapted some of these from incredible meals I’ve had around town or on my travels and you are sure to love them. Look for more spring and summer salads coming soon!

Crisp, fresh flavors, with a savory dressing. Lunch is served!
  • Romaine + peppers + shaved carrot + Greek garbanzo beans + olives + pepperoncini + celery + red wine or lemon vinaigrette
  • Mixed greens + grilled chicken + cucumber + tomatoes + onion + feta + radishes + red wine vinaigrette
  • Kale + onion + olives + orange segments + pistachios + feta + lemon vinaigrette (sweet and savory)
  • Arugula + shaved fennel + orange segments + crispy bacon + pine nuts + red wine vinaigrette (salty, sweet, and peppery!)
  • Shaved Napa cabbage + salmon + pickled onions + sliced red peppers + shaved carrot + sesame ginger vinaigrette (perfect for leftover salmon!)
  • Arugula + watermelon + pine nuts + feta + mint + basil + balsamic vinaigrette (I can’t get enough of this in the summer months!) bowl of arugula with slice of watermelon and chopped basil
  • Iceberg wedge + tomatoes + cucumber + crispy bacon + hard boiled egg + shaved carrot + buttermilk ranch + sunflower seeds (Oh, the wedge! Wonderfully crisp and nostalgic!)

Tips and Tricks

Healthy Fast Fresh Salads are super easy to pull together by making use of things you already have on hand and keeping some staples stocked in your pantry and refrigerator. For example, I always keep carrots, celery and onion stocked because they are so essential to many dishes. And while we may think of them as the base for cooked meals like soups, stews and sauces (they are the key components in mirepoix, after all), they also make lovely salad additions. Anyone who has children likely has Clementines on hand most days. In addition to being the perfect packable or after school snack, they are an awesome flavor to add to your salad.

  • For carrots, simply peel off the outer layer and discard. Then use your vegetable peeler to make wide strips to add to your salad.
  • Slice celery on the diagonal for a pretty presentation and add it to your salad for extra crunch.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons of zucchini or cucumber to add textural variety to Fast Fresh Salads. Chopped salads are great, but sometimes a salad needs that swirl!
  • Be bold. Go where no salad has gone before. If you don’t like the combo, don’t make it again, but I find that following my above formula always results in a great meal.

I hope you enjoy taking your salads to new heights and that it brings you great health this year!


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