Everyone knows how to make salad. A salad as a main course, though, is much trickier, especially if you are feeding it to children. It must then be filling, supply adequate protein, and most importantly, be interesting. There are a few restaurants at which I look forward to ordering a big salad. Like anything else, I analyzed what made the meal so special, and recreated it at home. What makes a salad enticing enough to serve as dinner? For me, it must be super fresh, offer plenty of variety, and contain items that challenge my expectations. It’s not the basics, like lettuce or carrots, which make the salad, but the extras that transform the dish from a side plate to a main attraction.
The Big Salad
Here are three salads-for-dinner I’ve made recently. As you can see, there are some basic tenets, like romaine lettuce, baby spinach, carrots, and hard-boiled eggs. Then there are the toss-ins that make each salad a little different– beans, crunchy noodles, homemade croutons, different fruits, etc., so that each salad is unique. I use salad night as an opportunity for a vegetarian meal, letting the eggs and beans serve as the primary protein, but grilled chicken or steak could be a nice addition. Finally, I always arrange each item on the plate individually, rather than a big messy pile, and then it’s fun for my kids to dip and eat.
Most importantly, include family favorites in your salad, and always keep one or two of the ingredients changing. It’ll never be the same old, and with the opportunity to raid the garden or the farm stand for fresh fruits and veggies, salad for dinner is a treat, not a punishment.