Have you ever gone to the trouble of making a main course lettuce salad only to be met with groans from your family? One doesn’t like onions, another dislikes peppers, and someone else won’t eat the mushrooms. I’ve always struggled with how to meet everyone’s preferences and still provide a healthy main course salad with a lot of variety. Recently my husband put together a salad meal – but he put all the ingredients in separate dishes. Why didn’t I think of that??
My kids loved it. They could pick what they wanted to put on their salads and there was no complaining . . . and very few leftovers this time. We’ve continued to do this anytime we have lettuce salad. The salad stays fresh longer if there are leftovers and the kids eat more fresh veggies at the meal. That’s a healthy outcome.
This is how we do a build-a-salad dinner:
- Choose which lettuce/greens will be the base. We usually use romaine, but you can add in any number of greens such as spinach, kale, mesclun, butter lettuce and so on.
- Have a variety of fresh veggies cleaned, chopped, and available for toppings. Try sliced peppers, sliced red onion, diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, mushrooms, bean sprouts, radishes, diced carrots, sliced raw zucchini , broccoli, jicama, or kohlrabi. Don’t feel you need to have all of these, but choose a few favorites and one new one to try.
- Provide a protein source. We usually have sliced grilled chicken, but you could try salmon, tuna, or even lean steak to add to your salad. You can also have shredded cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese, or blue cheese available.
- Offer fruit of some kind. We like to have dried cranberries or cherries, diced apple, diced watermelon, berries, halved grapes, or diced pears to add to our salads.
- Have a bowl of nuts or seeds available, such as sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, or pumpkin seeds.
- Choose a variety of salad toppings to offer. This could be balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, a homemade vinaigrette, or even bottled dressing. Just watch the amounts on the bottled dressings as they can be quite high in calories and sodium.
- Serve with a slice of whole-grain bread or flatbread.
What would you put on your salad for a build-a-salad dinner? Let us know in the comments below!