Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick and Easy Side Salads

From peppermint to salads...ah, how quickly Christmas over-eating catches up to a person! Yes, it's time to buckle down and eat sensibly again (and lose the 5 pounds that we all gained over Christmas!).

I've mentioned before that I tend to put the majority of my focus on the main dish and then think to myself "Oh yeah! Side dishes...what can I throw together really fast to go along with dinner?" Often, I don't have a whole lot of time for side dishes because most main dishes take enough work on their own. But these salads which I am about to share are salads that anyone can throw together quickly and easily. They definitely brighten up the meal and add some nice contrast (taste-wise and color-wise). Besides, it's always a good idea to eat your veggies!

I hope these easy side salads come in handy for you too!

First Feast/Eat Like a Pilgrim Salad


Mixed spring greens (mixed field greens can also be used)
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Coarse salt (such as sea salt)


Place mixed greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil (to your taste...but not too much because you don't want to drench your salad). Toss. Sprinkle with salt, to taste.

Source: Thanksgiving Point does a yearly dinner for Thanksgiving which offers a feast that is more similar to what the Pilgrims actually ate at the time (rather than the traditional Thanksgiving dinner we have become accustomed to). As part of the feast, this simple salad is offered. A bowl of spring greens is placed on your table with separate bowls of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt. You then dress the salad to your taste. And of course, you eat the salad with your knife and spoon, because the Pilgrims didn't use forks!

Notes: If you want to make this salad lighter (and more tart), use two parts red wine vinegar to one part of olive oil or omit the olive oil completely. It's up to you and your taste!

Arugula Salad


1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Baby arugula (4-5 cups)


In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, add baby arugula to the bowl and toss until dressing evenly coats the arugula.

Source: This is part of a bigger Martha Stewart recipe called Pork Milanese with Arugula Salad which can be found here.

Notes: This is one of those recipes that I discovered as a result of having too much of an ingredient left over from another recipe. I had made pressed sandwiches which called for arugula and I had a TON of arugula left over. I was flipping through one of my Everyday Food magazines and I came across this recipe. I didn't have any pork on hand, but I figured that this salad would pair nicely with something else I was making later in the week. The salad by itself was awesome. I can only imagine that with breaded and pan fried pork cutlets that it is amazing. I still need to try the recipe in full sometime!

Spinach Salad


3 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons fat-free balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup plain croutons


Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette, and toss. Top with croutons.

Yield: 2 (2-cup) servings.

Nutrition information: 116 calories, 2.9 g fat, 4.5 g protein, 18.8 g carbohydrate, 5.2 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 431 mg sodium.

Source: Cooking Light Light and Easy Menus cookbook. ISBN: 0-8487-2383-x

Notes: The first time I had this salad, I couldn't leave it alone...I kept going back for more. I slice the red onion VERY thinly (because, as a rule, I don't like raw onion in anything). I love the flavor that the red onion imparts to this salad, but I don't want to have a huge bite of it either. I probably use a little less than 1/4 cup of onion too. The last time I made this, I used fat-free croutons. It was super yummy!

Spinach Poppy Seed Salad


Baby spinach
Thinly sliced apple wedges (thinly sliced pears would also be good)
Bottled poppyseed dressing (Litehouse is a good option)


Toss spinach and apples together in a large bowl. Drizzle with poppyseed dressing and toss to coat.

Source: This one came from my own head. I had extra spinach left over from the Spinach Salad shared just above. In the past, I had made a berry spinach salad using poppyseed dressing (Spinach, Walnut, and Mixed Berry Salad). I didn't have the berries on hand, but I did have the dressing and the spinach. So, I thought about what fruits I had in the house...and voila! I had apples, so I threw it all together. It was fantastic. As noted above, thinly sliced pears would be delicious too.

Simple Side Salad with Lemon-Honey Dressing

Makes 3-4 servings


5 ounces English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
5 ounces red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lightly packed lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Combine cucumber and lettuce in a bowl and, using clean hands, toss to mix thoroughly.

Mix remaining ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, close, and shake until well combined. Pour over greens and toss until lettuce is well coated with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.

Source: Food Network website. Recipe courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp. You can find it here.

Notes: I didn't use equal parts lettuce and cucumber. Also, I accidentally bought Boston leaf lettuce instead of Red leaf lettuce. So, I used two heads of Boston leaf lettuce (the heads are smaller than some varieties of lettuce, so you would need two) and two regular cucumbers (peeled, halved, and thinly sliced).

I also like that the recipe says to "taste and adjust seasoning as desired." Because this really is to your taste. I only used one tablespoon of oil, but I used more lemon juice and honey to suit my tastes.

This salad was really good, but because it is dressed prior to serving it, it won't keep the next day. So, only toss what you plan to eat that night!

1 comment:

  1. Almost this makes me want to eat healthy! Seriously, I need to spice up my salads because I am in a rut! These would all be very easy and very cost conscious! Good blog, Sarah!