The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Inspire Salad Creativity with Color and Variety

Inspire Salad Creativity with Color and Variety

Dietitian Dialogues

May 29, 2011

How often do you hear or say the words: “Wow! That salad looks amazing!” I found myself saying those words and hearing those words more often once I ventured off from the world of lackluster and uninspired tossed salads, Greek salads and Caesar salads, and into the world of mixing grains, sweet and savory flavors, fruit and creativity into everyday salads for inspired salad creations. If this is a rare exclamation heard in your world, it’s time to jazz up your salad universe and help your clients, customers, family and friends do the same.

Remember, we eat with our eyes first, so it’s important to bring a variety of color, shapes, textures and flavors into our salads. Giving our customers and clients ideas to get them started on the path to culinary inspiration will move them towards getting more fiber-filled and nutrient rich fruits and vegetables into their diets.

Demonstrating these ideas with online or Facebook videos, live demos and media segments are great ways to bring these suggestions to life. Throughout the demonstration, focus on flavor and visual appeal, while emphasizing that every item they choose for their dish and the nutrients the food provides has a different role in our body.

Be sure to include different colored fruits and vegetables – green, red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, white and more. Each color contains unique health promoting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, great flavor.

Here are a few ideas to get you and your clients and customers started thinking about creative salad inspirations:

  • Grilled romaine with beets and goat cheese (one of my favorites): Slice hearts of romaine in half, brush with olive oil and grill over low heat until slightly wilted and lightly charred. Top (while warm) with small bits of goat cheese and sliced roasted beets. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spinach and strawberries: Combine rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk well. Toss with spinach, sliced strawberries and walnuts.
  • Jicama mango slaw: Combine diced mango, julienned jicama, chopped cilantro and diced red onion. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice. Top with slivered almonds and serve with lime slices.
  • Watermelon feta salad: Combine cubed watermelon and feta cheese. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Top with fresh mint leaves.
  • Quinoa, tomato and feta salad: Combine cooked and cooled quinoa, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and feta cheese. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Serve with lemon slices.
  • Tabouli and pine nuts: Combine cooked and cooled bulgur (a hearty grain), sliced scallions, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, dried cranberries, sliced mint leaves and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Cabbage and apples: Toss shredded cabbage, sliced scallions, chopped green apples and walnuts with cider vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Caprese salad: Layer thinly sliced tomatoes with thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Top with slivered basil, salt and pepper.

Encourage the combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheeses and whole grains into the same salad and you’ll uncover a fresh and crisp wonderful world of sweet and savory that is perfect for summer! Enjoy!


Jennifer Shea, MS, MPH, RD is the Retail East Corporate Dietitian for SUPERVALU®, covering the supermarket chains of SHAW’S and STAR MARKET, FARM FRESH, SHOPPERS and ACME. Shea is an active member of the American Dietetic Association, the Massachusetts Dietetic Association and the Food and Culinary Dietitians Practice Group. In 2009, she was awarded the Women of Influence in the Food Industry Award by the Griffin Report of Food Marketing.

As a nutritionist working for a supermarket, you have a unique outlook on how retailers are increasing health awareness at the store level and the kind of questions that shoppers ask. Each month, we'll be featuring a guest column, written by a nutritionist, that communicates this point of view on a variety of topics. And we want to hear from you. If you are a supermarket nutritionist interested in sharing your perspective and insights, we would love to help you share your thoughts! Please contact Allison Bloom at