We have talked about the health benefits of green salads, making our own dressings, and adding vegetables and herbs. Now let’s talk about adding protein to your salad. This can make a side dish salad into the main dish. Salads can be so refreshing on hot, summer nights. They are easy to make, take little time, don’t heat up your kitchen, and are healthy and frugal too (especially if you make your own dressing)! I like to serve it with muffins or buttered bread on the side.
Here’s a few ways to up your protein in your salads. You can do combinations of many of these options. Above all, be creative and use what you have and enjoy.
One of my husband’s favorite protein additions is boiled eggs. When you toss cubed eggs with your salad, the yolk mixes in with the dressing, creating a creamy delicious dressing with a lot of flavor. It’s also one of the most frugal ways to add protein to a salad. Check out my post about how good they are for you too!
To boil your eggs, put desired amount of eggs in a pot. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat immediately and keep at a low simmer for 15 minutes. Cool eggs by running cold water over them. Peel, then cube, quarter or slice eggs. They look very pretty arranged on the top of salads.
One delicious option is adding in chopped or sliced nuts. They add such a satisfying crunch to salads. It’s hard to imagine a nut that wouldn’t taste good in a salad-almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pinenuts. You can serve them raw, but they are also delicious toasted. It really brings out the flavor of the nut and adds more crunch. Just put in a hot pan (over med-high heat) and stir until you smell the fragrance of the nuts being released and they are just starting to brown.
Another great option are sunflower seeds. Growing up, my Grandma and Great Aunt would serve salads with roasted and salted sunflower seeds. To up the nutritional value, you can also sprout them.. Though they won’t be as crunchy this way, they are still delicious and really add a lot of nutrition (it produces more vitamin c, vitamin b’s reduces phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down complex sugars responsible for gas).
Here’s directions from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
“These are one of the most satisfactory seeds for sprouting. Sunflower sprouts are just delicious in salads but they must be eaten shortly after sprouting is accomplished as they soon go black. Use hulled sunflower seeds purchased in airtight packages. Rinse 2 times per day. Sprouts are ready in 12 to 18 hours, when the sprout is just barely showing. “
Another interesting, and unusual option is pumpkin seeds. They are a superfood and full of protein and zinc.
I love chicken in my salad. I will shred any leftover roasted chicken and add that to my salad. You can also dice up raw chicken breast and saute it in a pan with oil and your favorite seasonings until cooked through. This is delicious and doesn’t take huge amounts of meat. A few suggestions would be garlic and rosemary, Italian seasoning, curry powder, or Mexican spices.
One of my favorite and simple salads is adding chicken, red grapes cut in half, sliced celery and almonds to a green salad and serving it with a champagne vinaigrette. Very refreshing and elegant.
While not as natural of a fit, I also enjoy seasoning ground beef (much like the chicken), and adding that to my salad as well. You would be surprised at how good it is!
Salmon is so good for you. But it can be expensive to serve large portions to everyone. A less expensive way is to serve it on a salad. It’s also very delicious this way. You can bake, or grill a piece and cut in small pieces and scatter over your salad. I have also found smoked salmon delicious. It only takes a small amount to add a lot of flavor. This is also a great way to use leftover salmon.
There is a world of cheese just waiting to be put in your salad. Blue cheese, feta, and cheddar are some of my personal favorites. In fact, one of the things I miss most, while being off dairy, is adding freshly grated raw cheddar cheese to my salads. There is something about the richness of the cheese against the tartness of the dressing that is sooo good.
Present that Salad like a Masterpiece!
Finally, I want to leave you with one presentation idea. I have some beautiful bowls that I like to serve my salads in. It makes it seem very special. I have a wooden bowl that I got as a wedding gift. I also have a green pottery bowl that makes a very pretty serving bowl for salads.
But a new idea, that my Great Aunt showed me, was laying out your salad on a large platter. I have to admit that it is a bit prettier. Simply layer your green lettuce, vegetables, and other additions on the plate and drizzle with your dressing. It looks incredible! Instead of serving from the middle of the bowl, you serve from the side of the plate. It is really a great idea (apparently they serve salad like this in some of the European countries).
What about you? What do you like to add protein wise to your salads? Or what is your favorite way to present them?
This Post is part of Frugal Friday! For those of you here from Frugal Friday, may I invite you to a frugal food event? Stephanie and I are hosting a Nourishing Frugal Food Event to help pool our resources of frugal, and nourishing meals to help us combat rising food costs. We would LOVE to have you join us. Go here to read more of the details. I hope you can join us!