New DIY Salads that Make the Meal #GuestPost

Joy from Kitchen Scentse is completing her series on salads with some wonderful...and filling...salad ideas that make the meal. She shares some of the newest and most innovative trends in salad combinations that you can easily incorporate in your own family meal plan.


We’ve discussed composed salads and alternative ones. Now, I’ve got to tell you there’s a new guy in town making waves by combining produce in ways that make salads stars in our diets. They’re innovative in the wide range of ingredients used and for the complete meals they so effortlessly provide.  As in alternative creations, all sorts of items are included, with less emphasis on the leafy greens, but they are not chopped or diced as they used to be. The ingredients are presented in chunks, pieces, or more often, in thin slices or shaved. The mandolin replaces the knife, being actually easier and quicker to use.

Like composed salads, these accompany meat, constituting a full plated entrée but that meat is a lean cut, a fish fillet, a cutlet or loin chop, lightly grilled, broiled or sautéed just prior to serving, although this is a great way to serve well-trimmed slices of roast too. The dish is further fortified by including nuts, seeds, grains such as farro, quinoa, bulgur, kasha, rice, even “country croutons”, pieces of torn artesian bread turning it into a fully nourishing, attractive  meal. 

The ingredients can be prepared ahead, kept in chilled water, ideally tossed with a vinaigrette just before serving and plated spontaneously draped slightly over the meat not positioned rigidly to one side as before. The inviting impression is of freshness and casual elegance.

As for the actual ingredients, start with the thought that things that go together hot, will do so cold. The Italian gang, tomatoes, zucchini, onions and fennel make a wonderful salad, when grape tomatoes are split, the other things shaved and yes, the zucchini raw. Add fresh basil and oregano, some quinoa and perhaps Parmesan or Romano shavings, grilled chicken or slices of beef and it’s a full meal. 

Have fun thinking outside the box too. Many fruits and vegetables combine well: tomatoes, watermelon and avocados, cantaloupe, peppers and onions, plums, radishes and cucumber are a few. Lesser greens like watercress, sprouts and baby spinach are great compliments for these combos, rather than the usual lettuces. Herbs are good too. Don’t buy a bunch, for garnish, then wonder how to use the rest. Parsley, especially the flat leaf, cilantro and basil make great salad greens.

Then it’s simply a matter of deciding what grain, cheese, seeds or nuts, toasted please, best go with the other ingredients, appeal to you, perhaps you have on hand or want to get to round out the salad, turning it into the chief component of the main course rather than a side, I’ve found the grains present no problem in taking up prep time either. They can be cooked ahead, frozen in salad sized portions and thawed when needed.

 I had leftover fennel crusted pork tenderloin this week and made one of these salads with no recipe, just the meat and some cooked wild rice. Tossing rice, thinly sliced carrot, zucchini onion, bell pepper and grape tomatoes with a couple of torn Romaine leaves, fresh basil and oregano in a light vinaigrette, and serving it over the sliced cold pork, was delicious. The interesting thing was how little of each ingredient was required to create a fully satisfying meal.

Let your creative side loose, listen to the inner voice that telling you what tastes good together and build yourself a salad. You might discover combinations to enjoy all year.  The media is full of recipes for these “complete” salads and serving suggestions. They are the new BIG thing, but if you’re really stuck, visit


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