Green Salad Series: Add Some Interest (and More Nutrition!)

In part three of my Green Salad Series, we will be going over some simple (and even obvious) ways to add interest to your green salad. In part one we talked about our salad greens and in part two I shared how to make a simple dressing.

Recently, I noticed that my husband didn’t seem very interested in our green salads. I would always end up eating the leftovers. But once I started adding in some other vegetables and herbs for interest, he started enjoying our salads so much more. It really makes a difference for presentation, and taste appeal. You also get the benefit of all that added nutrition. This really works well for us (For more works for me wednesday tips, go here)

Adding Vegetables

While there are even many more options than I am giving here, this is a good starting point. One type of vegetable can be added to a salad in many forms. For example, a carrot can be grated, chopped or made into ribbons, which I will be explaining below. Varying how you prepare you vegetables does add interest and variety. But making vegetables ribbons is one of my variates right now.

Making Vegetables Ribbons

To make these pretty carrot “ribbons”, wash and peel your carrot. Then, putting your carrot flat on the cutting board, take your peeler, and run it top to bottom creating a “ribbon”. Continue to do this until you are about half way down the carrot, then turn around and do the same on the other side. As long as your peeler is sharp, you should be able to use most of the carrot.

You can actually do the same thing with asparagus (my mother in-law was the one who first showed me this). This is also very pretty and adds a nice crunch and taste to your salad.

Another thing that is very tasty, if you can get our hands on them at the farmer’s market, are these young, sweet onions. I don’t usually like raw onions, but these are wonderful. I just thinly slice and add to my salad.
Another classic salad addition is cucumber. They are more in season right now, so they are really good. If you leave the peel on, make sure it’s not bitter. Otherwise, peel them before slicing.
And you can see in my picture on the top of this page, I also had some thinly sliced red and yellow peppers prepared as well. These are a favorite of mine as well. As long as you don’t get the green ones, they are sweet, crunchy, and very flavorful. Sometimes I thinly slice them, other times, I cut them into small pieces. One last, and one of the most favorite additions, is avocado. They add healthy fat and nutrients and a wonderful taste to your salads. It also makes it more filling.

One last way to add a lot of flavor (and, again, nutrition) is to add fresh herbs to your salad.

(Fresh thyme from my garden)
“Fresh herbs add extra phenols to salads, and phenols protect your cells against oxidative damage, which, over time, can lead to cancer, heart disease and more. In one study, sage, rosemary, thyme and marjoram added the most antioxidant power to a salad. In fact, fresh marjoram leaves more than doubled a salad’s antioxidant value, while adding a slightly sweet, minty flavor. Although your body’s native antioxidants (catalase, glutathione and SOD) are your top cellular protectors, herbs and spices seem to help mightily.”

I like basil and thyme especially. Just rinse, tear into smaller pieces and toss with the greens. Another, very refreshing herb to add is cilantro. Obviously, if you do this, don’t add herbs to your salad dressing!

I can guarantee that doing some or all of these steps will liven up your salad, and make it more of a main dish event! Tomorrow, I will be sharing some of my favorite protein additions, so stay tuned for that!

How about you? What are your favorite vegetable or herb additions to your salad?

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Kimi Harris says

    Yum, that sounds delicious! I realized I need a whole post on fruit and salads! One of my favorite additions is red grapes, cut in half. It’s especially good with chicken on the salad as well.

  2. hanananah says

    Instead of peeling a cucumber, I usually score the peel with the tines of a fork to make it look prettier.

    During the summer my family often eats a large salad made of various meats, greens, and vegetables. This dinner works well for those days it is simply too hot to cook indoors.

  3. Alison @ Pennythoughts says

    Great series. (I linked to it in my post today) I particularly love your idea for veggie ribbons. I need to try that. I’m a big fan of chopped red or yellow bell peppers, jicama matchsticks, avocado, or even shredded kohlrabi. Yum!

  4. Kimi Harris says


    That’s a great idea. I bet that would look prettier. I think that salads as the main dish are a great dinner on a hot day. Nothing is more refreshing!

    Thanks for the link! I need to try jicama. I always forgot about that vegetable! Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home says

    My standards are colored bell peppers, grated carrots, cucumber, and something I learned from my mother-in-law… chopped red/purple cabbage! It looks so colorful, and adds a really nice crunch, and it’s just so nutritious!

    I also like to add seeds, esp. sunflower and pumpkin. Grated or cubed cheese goes over well, as does chopped hard boiled egg.

    In salads with fruit (my favorite is butter lettuce with strawberries!), soaked and dried nuts are such a nice addition- walnuts, pine nuts and pecans!

    I’m also with you on avacado- I think that’s my husbands favorite and becoming one of mine. We also use a lot of cilantro in salads, and I’m looking forward to using more as my herb garden gets growing.

    Good series, Kimi! It’s good to be reminded of how great a simple green salad can be!

  6. Julie says

    I love basil or cilantro in salads and then make it a more Italian or Mexican “theme”: mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar or cheddar, peppers, tomatoes, leftover taco meat (warmed)- so good and the possibilities are almost endless!

  7. Kimi Harris says

    Stephanie and Julie,
    You guys have some great salad ideas. Thank you for sharing them. They sound delicious. 🙂

  8. Alison @ Pennythoughts says

    I tried making carrot ribbons, and they were great! It took less time than I expected, and the salads were gorgeous and fun (if a bit unwieldy) to eat. I can’t wait to try it with asparagus.

    Oh, and I second Stephanie’s suggestion of shredded red cabbage. My mom always put that in salads, and I still love it.

    One more idea: For a Mexican-themed potluck dinner last night, I combined mixed baby greens, thinly sliced red onion, avocado, and orange slices with a homemade orange-cilantro vinaigrette. It was sooo yummy! (And dairy-free too)

  9. Kimi Harris says

    I am glad that they turned out for you! I think they are so pretty.

    Your Mexican salad sounds great. 🙂
    I bet some black beans and/or corn would be yummy on it too.

  10. Alison @ Pennythoughts says

    Funny you should mention black beans and corn. Alongside the green salad I described above, I served a black bean and corn salad. It had tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno, and cilantro in it with a lemon juice-olive oil dressing. Great minds think alike!

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