The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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Craveable Salad Essentials

Craveable Salad Essentials

Dietitian Dialogues

April 29, 2012

Spring has sprung, and that means time to jazz up the menu with springtime salads that please the palate and the eyes. There are three things that make a salad craveable and irresistible:
  • COLOR – switch it up with different colored vegetables, fruit and legumes. Each different color contains unique health promoting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so bring on the vibrant colors.
  • TEXTURES – a variety of textures add interest to a salad. Think chewy grains like farro or barley, tender grilled chicken, creamy goat cheese, smooth white beans, crunchy snap peas, pistachios or dried edamame.
  • FLAVOR – little explanation needed here! Sweetness (fresh or dried fruit), salty (lightly salted nuts, beans or cheeses) and bitter (endive, arugula, olives), sour (lemon, lime), savory or umami (mushrooms, cheese, soy sauce) flavor combinations make for a bold and exciting salad. Also, herbs go a long way to add flavor and freshness to your salads.

In honor of National Salad Month and to get you started on some amazing flavorful and craveable combinations – read on. And remember that adding protein to your salad gives it staying power and makes it a filling meal.

Elegant Asparagus, Red Peppers and White Beans with Parmesan:

  • Toss roasted asparagus and red peppers with white beans and shaved parmesan.

Roasted beets, Arugula, Goat cheese and Pistachios:

  • Wash beets, trim the top and bottom and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and roast at 425F for 30 minutes or until beets are tender. If you have a cast-iron skillet, I highly recommend using it for roasting your beets. Remove cast iron skillet from oven and top beets with goat cheese (break apart with your fingers and spread among beets). Let cool. Top arugula with the beets and goat cheese. Add pistachios and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Farro, Tomato and Pine Nut Salad:

  • Combine cooked and cooled farro, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh parsley and chopped red onion. Squeeze half a lemon overtop and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Top with toasted pine nuts. Serve with lemon slices.

Grilled Asian Salmon Salad:

  • Combine 4 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic. Toss shredded cabbage, sliced scallions, fresh mint and mandarin orange slices with the vinaigrette. Let marinate at least 4 hours. Top with chopped peanuts and grilled salmon.

Strawberries Fields Forever:

  • Combine 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. Whisk well. Toss with spinach, sliced strawberries and walnuts. Top with grilled chicken, if desired.

Simple or complex, your consumers can indulge in salads all year long. Help them get creative by sharing menu suggestions like the ones provided through Facebook, Twitter or online videos, offering up in-store demos or enticing shoppers with delicious displays. This is one healthy meal they can truly enjoy.

Jennifer Shea MS, MPH, RD is a passionate health and nutrition communications expert and Registered Dietitian. Shea holds a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from Boston University, a Masters in Nutrition (MS) from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Tufts University School of Medicine. Shea is currently the Retail East Dietitian for SUPERVALU where she covers the supermarket chains of SHAW'S and STAR MARKET, FARM FRESH, SHOPPERS and ACME Markets on the East Coast. 

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