Serve a Super Summer Salad

Fast-food outlets and many other restaurants have embraced the idea that salad is the future. Some salads are better for you than others, but choosing a menu item with more vegetables is a good start.

Today's salads offer a variety of greens, often with fruits, nuts, cheese, seeds, roasted or grilled vegetables, and beef, chicken, or fish.

Eating salads out is fine, but you can build a better salad at home, even if you buy a lot of the ingredients already cut. Today's most important feature is convenience.

First, decide what you want your salad to be. Is it a meal or a side dish? Second, when do you want to eat it? Americans largely prefer the salad before the entrée; Europeans take it after.

Special salad ideas

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Shop well. Get the freshest vegetables and fruits you can find for color and crunch. Washed greens are a good choice for a quick meal. Spring mix offers a gourmet assortment of baby lettuces.

  • Dress it lightly. Pouring on high-fat dressing can undo your salad's health benefits. But you can enjoy the taste of dressing if you choose low-fat or fat-free varieties. Try making a homemade vinaigrette with less oil and more vinegar.

  • Accessorize. Add interest with artichoke hearts, beets, roasted peppers, snap peas, water chestnuts, pecans, or walnuts. The list is endless!

  • Sweeten it up. Include some fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, or pear slices. 

  • Change the shape of your salad. Instead of a tossed salad, build up layers of colorful ingredients in the ring of a spring form pan. 

  • Add protein. This is important if the salad is your meal. Hard-boiled eggs, ham, turkey, chicken, and tuna are among the staples. A little pungent cheese—think gorgonzola or aged provolone—can enrich your greens. Go easy on saturated fat. To turn up the nutritional value, include beans or soy.