Fall in Love with Salad: Part 2

This is the second part of a 4-part series on falling in love with salad. To read about adding variety with different salad greens, check out Part 1 of the series here.

When real hunger strikes, many people think that a salad just will not do.

If that salad is a limp, fear-inducing, iceberg-laden monstrosity like I mentioned in my previous post, then those people are right. Luckily, there's a cure. Actually, there are quite a few.

Falafel Salad with Savory Yogurt Sauce
Chunky Southwestern Bean Salad
Designing a hearty, satisfying salad is incredibly simple. How? Add some protein. Whether in the form of legumes, nuts, or protein-packed grains like quinoa, any salad can feel like a meal when you add a little protein. Protein helps tell your body you're full, and can stave off hunger a lot longer than raw veggies. 

Some ideas for adding protein (choose 1-2): 
  • 1/2 cup cooked and cooled chickpeas 
  • 1/2 cup edamame, steamed and cooled (or simply defrosted, if frozen) 
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cooked and cooled quinoa 
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cooked and cooled brown rice 
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts 
  • 3 Tbsp chopped raw almonds 
  • 1/4 cup crumbled tempeh bacon 
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds 
Although having protein-rich add-ons on hand can make your salad-making experience easier, some of them do require a little advance prep. But, rest assured, that's pretty easy too.

Here are some tips for my favorites:

Chickpeas and other legumes
Although canned chickpeas can be fine, cooking dry chickpeas is quite a bit cheaper and is very simple. I use a slow cooker to cook them on low overnight. You could also set them to cook in the morning before you leave for work, and enjoy them for dinner. Simply drain and freeze any that you won't be using within the next couple of days. This method applies to almost all legumes, even lentils.

Quinoa, Brown Rice, and other grains
Larger batches of grains can be prepared in advance. This is a great activity for a lazy weekend afternoon, or even a weekday evening. Since most grains don't need a lot of active attention during the cooking process, it's easy to tackle this task while catching up on Mad Men or revisiting old episodes of The West Wing. Or whatever. Cooked grains will keep in the fridge surprisingly long, but I like to bag up smaller portions to toss in the freezer as well. Another tip: cook your grains in vegetable broth to impart more flavor.

Nuts and Seeds 
I keep mine in quart-sized mason jars and try to keep them close to full at all times. I just keep my favorites on hand, which are whole raw almonds, walnuts, pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds), and hemp seeds. Since they are always "in stock" and easy to see in glass jars, I never forget about them.

Ultimately, as you learn to add-on to your green salads, you'll realize that a salad doesn't actually need to consist of any greens at all in order to be called a salad. Pasta and grain salads are a great way to mix up your salad regime, or provide a slightly heartier dish. They're also the best candidates for potlucks and picnics, and pretty much guarantee that you'll bring home an empty bowl.

For instance?

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Grapes
So far in this series, I've covered how to change up your greens to invite non-salad lovers to partake, and given suggestions on add-ins to increase a salad's staying power. In Part 3, I'll share with you some of my favorite homemade salad dressings, including both sweet and savory, as well as tips on creating your own signature salad dressing recipe. Stay tuned!

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