If I had my druthers, salads would be made of nuts, cheese, and a fruity dressing with a few leaves of arugula sprinkled on top. Alas, those druthers miss the whole point of a salad, which "should" be a light, healthy meal. I'm not alone, though. Visit any restaurant, and you'll find salads packed with heavy (albeit delicious) add-ons, making them slightly less nutritious than a bag of Big Macs.
But it doesn't have to be that way. By maximizing the impact of your extras, you can create a healthy salad you'll want to eat. Let's use Mixed Greens with Pears, Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Honey Balsamic Dressing for an example. The vinaigrette recipe comes from Catherine Walthers Soups + Sides, while the remainder of the ingredients are fairly standard salad toppings.
- A little bit of an assertive fromage goes a long way. I used a pungent blue in this case.
- Amplify the nuttiness of nuts by toasting them.
- A whole, chopped up pear adds sweetness and another dose of produce.
- Toss the greens in half the dressing, so guests would get a little bit in every bite, without drenching the whole thing.
By following these simple rules, you can serve a salad that leaves room for the main course. That is, unless they want seconds.
- For the salad:
- 4 ounces mixed greens, washed and thoroughly dried
- 1 pear
- 2 wedges lemon
- 1/4 chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/4 crumbled blue cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- For the dressing:
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Slice pear into thin wedges and cut those wedges in half. Place pear pieces in a small bowl, and squeeze lemon juice them. Toss gently to coat. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together.
In a large bowl, toss mixed greens with half the dressing. Top with pear, pecans, blue cheese, and cranberries if using. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.