Our family loves salads and I serve a salad every night at dinner. My sons are even becoming quite capable at making their own salad dressing and prefer homemade to store-bought any day .
When my kids were little and we used to go to potlucks, they would always pile their plates with salad while astonished parents looked on in wonder, often asking, “How do you get your kids to eat salad?” I found this a curious question considering I put salad on the table every night and everyone eats it. I think with a little effort and a habit of putting the salad on the table, your family will come to love them. Here are my top ten tips for making homemade salads that your family will enjoy.
1. Wash and Dry the Leaves Thoroughly
Don’t just rinse lettuce under the tap. To really get all the grit out, fill a bowl with water & a dash of salt and dunk the lettuce. Then use a salad spinner to completely dry the leaves. If there’s any water remaining on the leaves, the salad dressing won’t stick, resulting in a watery, bland salad.
2. Salt the Dressing
Salt the dressing to taste to enhance the flavor of the salad, even if it’s just oil and vinegar, It’s a step that many people neglect, but it’s a trick that good chefs rely on.
3. Use a Variety of Textures.
Choose salad toppings that have contrasting textures like crunchy nuts, creamy cheeses, chewy dried fruit, etc. For instance, you can top a salad with crunchy cucumber, creamy mozzarella, and juicy tomatoes.
4. Combine vegetable and fruits in season.
You can combine vegetables and fruits that are in season to create lovely and delicious salads. Use tomatoes and basil and berries in the summer, Use grapefruits and oranges and mint in the winter. Grated carrots and root vegetables work well in winter salads.
5. Opt For Seasonal Greens
Lettuce and other salad greens have their seasons too; therefore try to eat seasonal greens. Toss in hardy kale or arugula during winter months and butter lettuce and romaine during the spring and summer.
6. Toss in fresh Herbs
A light sprinkling of mint, basil, italian parsley, fennel fronds, or dill add a fresh touch to any salad. Shop for herbs in season.
7. Create Balanced Flavors
Combine different flavors in your salad. Experiment with different vegetables, meat and fruit that your kids already love. Some of our favorites include: ham and cheddar with romaine lettuce; Spinach, sweet peppers and strawberries with a balsamic vinegar dressing; Baby Kale, avocado and parmesan with lemon vinaigrette.
8. Measure Equal Amounts of Ingredients.
Don’t skimp on any of the ingredients. Try to use generous and equal measurements of all of the salad ingredients.
9. Toast the Nuts
Toasting nuts instantly boosts their nutty flavor and crunchy texture. I keep toasted nuts in a jar in the fridge to add to salads. My favorites are walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds and pine nuts (when you can get them at a reasonable price).
10. Experiment With Different Oils and Vinegars
1/3 balsamic vinegar to 2/3 olive oil is a dependable standard in our house, but you can try other interesting oils and vinegars like walnut oil, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, or Champagne vinegar. Substitute lemon for vinegar if you prefer to make a large batch of salad to eat over a couple of days.
Here is the Italian vinaigrette from the More Time Moms Family Meals Cookbook where you can find great salad ideas and easy salad dressings that the whole family will love!
More Time Moms Italian Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. basil, oregano and tarragon
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. Olive oil.
(You can make a big batch by tripling the quantities and keep it in the jar in the refrigerator to serve all week. Experiment with different vinegars and herbs. Honey and dijon mustard are nice added touches.)