Hacking salads by hacking Whole Foods
October 14, 2015 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Give me your most creative and tastiest salad recipes!

I recently ate at Sweetgreen in NYC and tried their HUMMUS TAHINA which has shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt. I replicated this recipe at home by substituting baked falafel with the ready made ones from the salad bar at my local Whole Foods and substituting the dressing with Cindy's Kitchen's Lemon Tahini. I also used the store brand pita chips.

What I loved about this salad is:
Relatively easy to prepare
Stays good for a while
I can make a big batch and eat it over a 3-4 days
Great combination of creamy and crunchy - I love anything that creates a mishmash of flavors (sweet+spicy), textures (soft+crunchy) and temperature (cold+warm)
It makes a great mason jar salad

This was my first time making a salad with kale and I was impressed with how great this came out.

I'm looking for more such salad recipes that are creative, use fun and interesting dressings and ingredients and are relatively easy to assemble.

I'd appreciate if you could also point me towards sources of inspiration for recipes for salads i.e. blogs, books etc., or share any that you particularly enjoy.

I am a decent cook and would like to start making more dressings at home, so feel free to suggest combinations that you particularly like.

I have no dietary restrictions so anything goes!
posted by rippersid to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
I am obsessed with the cookbook Bowl + Spoon. The premise of the cookbook is that it's all things eaten out of a bowl, so while it's not exclusively salads (as you might expect, there are a fair amount of soups, as well as desserts and other foods you would eat out of a bowl), but salads feature heavily in the selection of recipes. Everything I've tried has been super delicious. There is also a section at the end on different dressings/sauces...I've only tried one of those, but it was awesome!
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:48 AM on October 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

I posted this question about unusual salads a few years ago and I'm still working my way through the responses. So many good answers there.

So far, every salad from Smitten Kitchen has been great (I'm still pretty attached to that carrot one that spurred my question.)
posted by punchtothehead at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think you need some Salad Samurai in your life. Sample recipes: Smokehouse Chickpeas 'N' Greens, Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad, Buffalo Ranch Caesar, Bacon Kale Tomato (BKT) Bowl. And for dressing inspiration, Appetite for Reduction has a TON of them and every one I've tried is incredible. Samples: Cashew Caesar, Green Goddess, Romesco, sesame-orange vinaigrette.

Roasted chickpeas are an excellent addition to any kind of salads, as are tofu croutons and coconut bacon (I hate liquid smoke, so I always use smoked paprika instead). Crunchy and savory.

For a basic recipe to use as a dressing base, start with 2 parts apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, 1 part olive oil, 1 part maple syrup or honey, a healthy squeeze of whole-grain mustard, and a big pinch of kosher salt. Additions to that: minced shallots, fresh or roasted garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce, any/all kinds of herbs but especially chopped parsley or cilantro, sesame oil, tahini, sun-dried tomatoes.

IMO, you can't go wrong with peanut sauce -- sweet, umami, spicy, tart -- so I like to start with 2 parts peanut butter, 1 part maple syrup or honey, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar or lime juice, maybe a clove of garlic and a squirt of Sriracha or a dollop of red curry paste.

And this miso-carrot-ginger dressing is downright ambrosial.
posted by divined by radio at 10:13 AM on October 14, 2015 [19 favorites]

Not super healthy (or cheap), but cheaper than going out:

"Meal Salad"
Iceberg lettuce
Ranch or honey mustard dressing
Cut up cooked chicken fingers from the deli
Crispy chow mein noodles
Cherry tomatoes

Toss and eat!
posted by rossination at 10:16 AM on October 14, 2015

My husband makes this all the time and people rave about it, and it's super easy:

1 bag frozen corn kernels
1 diced red pepper
Diced red onion (to taste)
1 can drained black beans
olive oil and red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley to taste
posted by archimago at 10:48 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

+1 to Salad Samurai. They are not necessarily the fastest recipes, but my god, they are ALL amazing. The whole book is interesting to read before you start to play mix & match between the recipes -- they're all full of flavor and texture combinations.
posted by barnone at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like to rip off a local cafe's sweet potato lentil salad ("roasted sweet potato, served on a bed of arugula with black lentils, granola, red onion and goat cheese, tossed with a lemon and olive oil dressing"). Variation: roasted red or orange peppers and zucchini + 1/2 a can of lentils, maybe some couscous, spinach, goat cheese. (You can roast stuff in advance and throw it into salads and sandwiches through the week.)

Steamed asparagus or broccoli and cauliflower with 1/2 can chickpeas; lemon, olive oil & brown sugar dressing.

Shredded red cabbage, apples, and carrots with balsamic vinegar, OO, & brown sugar. Same dressing with sliced pears, walnuts, spinach, goat cheese.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:14 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

a good way to do this is to actually browse the menus of things like sweetgreen and chopt or mixt or whatever and see what sort of combos they come up with and sort of copy those. (my favorite sweetgreen salad is the rad thai!)
posted by kerning at 11:29 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like fattoush. It's pretty similar to your example salad up there. I make it like:

spring mix -OR- shredded romaine
chopped english/persian cucumber
halved grape/cherry tomatoes
crumbled feta -OR- goat cheese
toasted pita bread -OR- pita chips

add cubed chicken if additional protein is desired

optimal dressing is homemade lemon sumac vinaigrette but a bottle of greek or red wine vinaigrette works too
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:43 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was coming in to recommend Salad Samurai and was beaten to it by several people.

Some other ideas -

Chopt's mexicali vegan salad is excellent. It's whatever greens you want, avocado, black beans, crumbled tortilla chips, jalapenos, hearts of palm, tomatoes, and a slightly spicy goddess dressing.

White bean salad is great on arugula. I make a lemon-olive oil dressing, add a ton of za'atar or dukkah, and add whatever combination of cucumber, tomato, cilantro, mint, red onion, and peppers that I have around. Mix in a can of white beans, and serve over arugula. Smoked almonds are good in there too.
posted by snaw at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Somewhat related.... I can never go through salad fixings fast enough before they go bad. Lately I've been buying my favorite dressing, unchopped lettuce (because cheaper) and then loading a container with JUST fixings from the store salad bar. I'm still patting myself on the back for thinking of it :)
posted by wwartorff at 4:38 PM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Everything Green
posted by SassHat at 7:31 AM on October 15, 2015

I stumbled on the cookbook from Lemonade, an eatery in LA, and it has a bunch of excellent, creative make-ahead dressings that are really delicious.
posted by cacofonie at 7:04 AM on October 17, 2015

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