When I had two young boys running around the house and a hectic work schedule, I loved those “one-pot” meals like beefy mac and green been casserole because they were just so easy, even if they weren’t always the healthiest. Funny that it took me this long to figure out that salads—or “one-bowl” meals—are just as easy but a whole lot lighter because they incorporate so many fresh vegetables, fruits and lean protein.
People tend to roll their eyes when I tell them that Michael and I have started enjoying salads for dinner pretty much every night we’re home. I know what they’re thinking: salads are boring and we must be starving. I’ve been accused of a good many things in my life, but never boring or starving. We’re very creative with our salads and change them up all the time.
It’s so simple, y’all!
We start with a foundation of leafy greens in various shapes, sizes and colors. Michael and I like pairing green-leaf lettuce and spinach with the strong flavor of baby arugula and the smooth, soft texture of butter lettuce. From there we’ll add dried and fresh fruits or vegetables, nuts of our choosing, a lean protein like grilled chicken or boiled eggs, and a sprinkling of cheese.
The choices are endless.
With that simple equation we can make dozens of salads: dried cranberries, chicken and walnut with blue cheese; bell peppers, almonds, with eggs and feta; or red grapes, pistachios and goat cheese. And the best part is, all of these ingredients store really well, so as long as you have groceries in the fridge, you’ll have a delicious and hearty salad waiting to be assembled.
Dress it up.
And because there’s so much flavor packed into the farm-fresh produce and toppings, you’ll be less likely to drench your salad in dressings. I like to make homemade dressings because so many of the store-bought ones are oily and loaded with fat and sugar. Making my own allows me to control what goes in and the result is often a fresher tasting and lighter version of what I can buy. It really takes your salad to the next level, upgrading it from little side salad to big entrée.
Like the one-pot meals of my past, salad bowls teeming with greens are incredibly satisfying and better for you. Michael and I basically dice up the entire food pyramid, toss it into a bowl and dig in.
Sample some of Paula’s favorite salad recipes:
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Roasted Beet Salad with Cocoa Vinaigrette
Southwestern Avocado and Black Bean Salad
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps