When we hear “salad,” we often think lettuce tossed with a few vegetables. But salad can be so much more! In fact, it can easily become an inexpensive main meal with just a few additional ingredients.
Here are some building “blocks” to make a delicious and filling salad:
- Greens- Look for dark, leafy lettuces like romaine, spinach or arugula. If you have access to fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano or mint, they add zest and extra nutrients to your salad bowl.
- Proteins- Add more satisfaction to your salad with lean cuts of beef, skinless chicken or oily fish, such as salmon, trout and herring. Mix in a chopped up hard-boiled egg or a handful of reduced-fat, low sodium Cheddar cheese. Toss in a can of drained and rinsed, low-sodium beans like chickpeas, kidney, navy or black beans. Unsalted nuts, like peanuts, almonds and walnuts, give your salad a dose of healthy fat, and like all these protein foods will keep you feeling fuller longer.
- Fruits-Slice up fresh fruit that is in season or on sale – choose a rainbow of colors! If you are using fruit canned in juice or frozen, thoroughly drain and pat dry so your leafy greens don’t get soggy. Dried fruits without added sugars are another super salad ingredient.
- Extra Veggies- Raw vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower add great crunch and color. Roasted veggies like beets, potatoes or squash add terrific flavor and a little bit of sweetness to any main meal salad.
- Grains-Warm or cold fiber-rich whole grains add bulk and satisfaction. Try whole wheat couscous, barley, quinoa, bulgur or wild rice. To save money, look for whole grains in the bulk aisle of your grocery store. Whole wheat pastas are also an inexpensive way to “beef” up any basic salad.
- Dressings- With oil, vinegar and spices in your pantry, you are minutes away from a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing. Jazz it up with heart healthy ingredients like chopped fresh herbs; diced veggies with lots of flavor, like onions, garlic or scallions and/or a squeeze of citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime.) Experiment by adding small amounts of those add-ins to the following vinaigrette recipe, taste testing as you go.
Easy vinaigrette recipe:Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil or canola oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard. Add a dash or two of black pepper and toss into a salad for four or more people.
Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.