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Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived, we’re starting to crave light, fresh and healthy dishes. One of the easiest nutrition-packed meals that you can make for yourself is a salad! While classic’s like Caesar salads, Greek salads and Spring Mix salads are delicious; there are many other wonderful salads that you can make.

This week we’re featuring a variety of salad recipes to inspire you to try something new!

What makes a great salad?

A great salad has contrasting textures and balanced flavours, like crisp fresh lettuce, vegetables and fruit, crunchy salty seeds and a creamy sweet dressing.

Everything you need to know about lettuce

Wondering how to make your lettuce last longer in the fridge? Not sure how to select the best head of lettuce at the grocery store? Then you should definitely check out our detailed Lettuce 101 article to get all the answers that you need.

Options beyond lettuce

Everyone knows that lettuce leaves, like Bibb, Romaine, Red Leaf and Iceberg, taste great in a salad. But they aren’t your only options! Here are some great alternatives that are also very tasty!

Arugula: It’s peppery taste can range from mild to bold, so it’s best to taste the leaf before adding it to your salad. Mildly spicy arugula is a wonderful leafy salad base that is delicious when paired with cheese, like in this Arugula Greek Salad. Arugula that is very spicy can be added to salads in small quantities to add flavour, similarly to how you would add fresh herbs to a salad.

Beet Greens: The leafy green tops of young beets are tender and slightly spicy in flavour. They can be eaten raw, but wilting the leaves will make them taste a bit sweeter. These purple-veined leaves can add flavour and a pop of colour to any salad. Check out this article filled with tips on different vegetable greens you can use instead of throwing them away!

Brussels Sprouts: Did you know that you could eat Brussels sprouts raw? They are delicious when shredded, or thinly sliced, and added to salads with a vinaigrette dressing. You can also wilt the shredded sprouts for a comforting Warm Brussels Sprout Salad.

Cabbage: Cabbage always makes a welcome crunchy addition to salads. They are obviously an integral ingredient to any delicious slaw, but are also delicious when served with root vegetables like beets, carrots, or parsnip. Check out our Tangy Thai Coleslaw using Ontario grown cabbage.

Dandelion Greens: These bright green leaves add a tangy bitterness to salads when used raw. They are best served with a strong vinaigrette dressing. They can also be cooked to reduce the bitterness. Many people spray dandelions with pesticides and other chemicals, so it’s best not to harvest them unless you have grown them yourself in a chemical free environment. Cultivated dandelion greens can be found in most grocery stores.

Kale: Kale is one of the hardiest members of the cabbage family. Kale is often massaged with olive oil and salt before adding to salads, which helps to tenderize this tough leafy green. Kale can be used in recipes like this Ontario Pear, Stilton and Kale Salad or this Kale Caesar Salad recipe.

Mustard Greens: These dark green leaves have an intensely peppery, mustard-like flavour. They are best used sparingly in salads so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. A bacon-based dressing can help balance out the pungent flavour of these greens. Mustard greens can also be cooked, which helps to reduce the intensity of the flavour.

Radicchio: Like many other Italian leaf chicory (including endive, frisée and escarole) this pink-hued vegetable has a slightly bitter, spicy flavour that is delicious when paired with sweeter greens and a citrusy dressing. It can also be grilled or roasted before adding to salads.

Spinach: With a flavour that is much milder than other dark leafy greens, spinach is incredibly versatile. Raw spinach is great in salads and sandwiches. Baby spinach leaves are more tender, making them ideal for eating raw. These young leaves pair very well with fruit in salads, like this Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Watercress: Like other members of the mustard family, watercress has an intense, peppery flavour. You can tame the flavour of a watercress salad by adding a citrusy dressing on top.

Get more salad recipe ideas

Craving more salads? Then take a look at our Salad Roundup with over 20 fresh recipes!

Salad tips

  • Salad dressing won’t stick to wet leaves, so be sure to dry your salad greens thoroughly before using.
  • Season your salad with a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavors of all those fresh ingredients.
  • Toast your nuts before adding them to a salad. This brings out their nutty flavour and crunchiness.
  • Try adding herbs to your salad to add a pop of fresh flavour.
  • When packing salad for your lunch, be sure to pack the dressing separately so your vegetables will still be crisp by the time you’re ready to eat.
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