Mar 1, 2010

Salad Toppings

by Ellen Wilson

Turn your side salad into a full meal.
As soon as the weather starts getting warmer, I look forward to crispy summer salads.  But, since we are in Utah, it's likely we have a few more flurries heading our way before we can relax on the green grass.  But just because the air is still frigid doesn't mean we can't have a hearty salad for lunch or dinner.  Turn your side salad into a meal by taking a look at your leftovers.

Proteins: Cook a little extra protein one day and add it to your salad the next.  Great choices are chicken, ground beef or turkey, crumbled soy burgers, tofu, or a hardboiled egg.  For items you don't have to prepare, try chopping up lunch meat or opening a can of tuna. Nuts also add protein with a bit of a crunch.  Traditional nuts are almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts.

Beans: Kidney beans are a must on salads.  Open, drain, and rinse a can to use for one big salad or multiple salads throughout the week.  Other good choices are cannelloni or other small white beans. Do you have a southwestern palate? Black beans should be your first choice, if so.

Grains: Toss your leftover orzo, penne, tortellini or other pasta into your salad. Rice or couscous is also another filling option that you may already have made.  If you don't have any croutons, cube a slice of thick, crusty bread and add as the final ingredient.

Fruit: Although I am not positive about bananas, almost every other fruit you can imagine is delicious as a salad topper. Slice apples, pears, strawberries, and mango or top your lettuce off with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and orange segments. If you don't have any fresh fruit, canned or dried fruit can easily be kept on hand for a sweeter salad.  Try mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks or dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, or raisins.

Vegetables: I won't even attempt to give a full list of vegetables you can add to your salad but some of our favorites are cucumber, bell peppers, fresh spinach, peas, asparagus, radishes, artichoke hearts, carrots, corn, avocado, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms, water chestnuts, olives, pickled beets, broccoli, zucchini, and onions.  Sorry, I have a lot of favorites. Chop up fresh vegetables, or if you have time, grill a few for a warm salad.

Dairy: The only cheese that must be eliminated from this list is cream cheese. Other than that, shredded cheeses, like cheddar, Swiss, Colby,  or Monterey Jack, immediately make your salad more filling. If you're feeling fancy, crumble feta, bleu, or gorgonzola cheese over the top.

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