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The salad vernacular

From the simplest combination of fresh greens to main dish entrees, salads provide a special flare to our meal time fare. Salad no longer implies a mound of lettuce. Tossed salad seems a bland reflection to our salads of today. With hundreds of items in the produce section, the beginnings of salad are vast, exciting and often unpredictable.

Mixtures of colors, textures and flavors brought about by combinations of greens, other vegetables, fruits and meat are unlimited. Salad dressings heighten the excitement and allow a complete change of character with simple variations. Try a gourmet vinegar based salad dressing today and a honey and mustard combination tomorrow to create a new flavor sensation to your favorite salad.

Salads provide the opportunity for even the non cook among us to be creative, there are NO rules or limitations. Combine your favorite foods and keep in mind the basic principle of keeping it fresh, simple and nutritious.

The salad vernacular

Nothing is quite so nutritious as a blend of fresh salad greens. The extensive range of salad greens available throughout the year means that you will never be short of exciting ingredients to work with. Consider these ingredients the next time you build a salad.

  • Iceberg - Not the most nutritious of greens, this salad basic is always available and offers a crunchy foundation for many salads.
  • Romaine - The crisp texture and mild taste mix well with the stronger greens.
  • Curly endive (Chicoree frisee) - A peppery taste that adds pizzazz to any salad.
  • Belgian endive - This very crisp lettuce offers variation in color and blends well with other vegetables.
  • Radicchio - This deep rich purple red lettuce holds an equally strong flavor.
  • Red leaf - This mild flavored lettuce adds color to any combination.
  • Arugula - This small leaf, deep green, very strong flavored lettuce stands alone for those who like a definite bite to their salad. It also mixes well with other lettuces.
  • Frisee de ruffee - Similar to curly endive, with larger leaves, it holds a slight peppery taste and provides a good contrast to other vegetable combinations.
  • Watercress - This strong mustard flavored lettuce is best when mixed with other greens.
  • Spinach - This nutritional powerhouse stands on its own as a great salad and is particularly good with the addition of fruit.

Rate your greens

Food Item kcal
2 cup
Vit A
Vit E
Vit C
Iceberg 14 1 .5 21 177 37 .5 4
Romaine 18 1 1 40 325 291 .5 27
Endive 17 2 .8 52 314 205 .9 7
Radichio 18     25 242 2 0 6
Butterhead 15 1 .3 36 288 109 .5 9
Arugula 10 0 .6 64 148 95 0 6
Watercress 7 1 .1 82 224 320 .7 29
Spinach 25 3 3 111 625 752 2 31


Turn the simplest of green salads into a signature salad with interesting add ins. Try tossing your green salads with any of the following:

  • Slivered Almonds
  • Chopped fresh chives
  • Black olives
  • Grapefruit or orange slices
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Cheeses- While many cheeses are high in fat, some of the strongest cheeses are available in a form that adds flavor without many fat calories. Try adding crumbled feta or blue cheese or a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Preparation tips

The only essential pieces of equipment required for green salads are a sharp chef's knife for chopping, a colander for draining greens, and a whisk for making dressings.

Greens require a thorough washing to remove grit or soil and to keep them crisp. Equally important is making sure that the greens are dry. Wet leaves diminish the crispness and dilute the flavor of otherwise wonderful salads. A salad spinner is a handy tool to ensure crisp salad greens.

If salad is to be served with the main source, keep it simple, a mixture of greens with a fresh dressing will complement rather than compete.

When choosing a dressing remember that the creamier dressings go best with sturdier, crunchier greens. The tender greens (butterhead, Musculun and Boston) are best complemented with a thinner, lighter dressing.

Dressing recipes

The most simple yet satisfying and versatile of all dressings is the basic vinaigrette. While it may seem bland, a few simple additions make way to a world of flavor combinations. Make it once and we guarantee you'll be hooked.

The standard recipe for vinaigrette is one part vinegar to three parts vegetable oil, but this formula will vary dependent on individual preferences and additions. The fat calories of this formula are easily reduced with the addition of herbs, mustards, flavored oils and vinegars, garlic or poppy seeds (to name a few of the possibilities). Using one part vinegar to two parts oil works well with the addition of strong flavors.

Try a few of these variations:

Basic Vinaigrette    
1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
dash salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and mustard. Gradually add oil in a steady stream, while continuing to blend with whisk until thickened. Store in an air tight container, refrigerated.

Serves: 2-3
Calories: 81
Fat: 9 grams

Tip: All ingredients can be mixed in a shaker jar for a speedier process

Simple Variations:
Use almond oil in place of olive oil
Use raspberry or balsamic vinegar in place of wine vinegar
Use lemon juice instead of vinegar
Use chicken broth in place of some of the oil to reduce fat
Add 1/2 tsp. rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, nuts, honey or poppy seeds

Virtues of Vinaigrette
  • Toss with hot or cold pasta
  • Marinate meats, poultry and seafood before cooking
  • Brush on French bread or hard rolls instead of margarine or butter

  Berry Vinaigrette  
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or champagne
2 Tbsp. strawberry or raspberry preserves
1 Tbsp. canola , olive or other salad oil
5 cups trimmed, washed spinach
2 cups halved fresh strawberries or raspberries, hulled
1/4 cup slivered almonds

In small jar with tight fitting lid, shake together wine vinegar or champagne, preserves and oil. Refrigerate until used.

Tear spinach into bite sized pieces, pour dressing over spinach, and add almonds and strawberries. Toss to coat.

Serves 4
Calories: 113
Fat: 6 grams

    Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt or fat free sour cream
1 Tbsp. wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a shaker jar. Shake to blend. Refrigerate until used.

Serves: 4-6
Calories: 10
Fat: < 1 gram

  Classic Italian Dressing  
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped green onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 tsp. (dry) Italian seasoning OR 1/2 tsp. oregano plus 1/2 tsp. basil
OR 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano and/or basil
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard, optional

Combine all ingredients together in shaker jar. Shake to blend. Refrigerate until used.

Simple Fruit Dressing    
1/2 cup lemon or plain reduced fat yogurt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fruit preserves

Combine all ingredients in a shaker jar. Shake to blend.

Serves: 2-4
Calories: 35
Fat: Less than 1 gram

  Marinated Vegetable Salad  
4 cups assorted fresh vegetables, chopped in bite sized pieces (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes or carrots)

Marinade #1 1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing or bottled no fat or low fat Italian salad dressing

Marinade #2 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar or wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove, minced or 1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
3 Tbsp. nonfat vanilla, plain or lemon yogurt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs or 2 Tbsp. dried (basil, dill, chives, oregano, tarragon, singly or in combination)
Dash pepper and salt
1/4 tsp. tarragon

Combine marinade ingredients in shaker jar or container with tight fitting lid. Shake to blend. Add vegetables. Cover, chill for 1-8 hours.

Serves: 4-6
Calories: 70
Fat: 7 grams

    Cabbage Salad
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1/4 cup chopped onion

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened apple juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. spicy brown or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
salt to taste

Combine first 3 ingredients together.
Mix dressing ingredients together. Pour over cabbage mixture; toss gently. Cover and chill before serving.

Serves: 4 (1 cup servings)
Calories: 28
Fat: 1.5 grams

  Chinese Coleslaw  
1 head green cabbage, finely shredded:
3 green onions, sliced (include tops)
1 package lowfat ramen noodles
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. red wine or tarragon vinegar

Combine cabbage and green onions together.
Break up "block" of dry ramen noodles into small pieces. Toast broken noodles, sesame seeds, and almonds together at 375 - 400 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Watch carefully so they don't burn.) Set aside.
Combine vegetable oil, vinegar, and seasoning packet from the ramen noodle package together. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture, gently combine.
To serve: Put cabbage mix on plate, top with toasted noodle/nut mix.

NOTE: Do not mix the toasted noodles and nuts with the cabbage before hand as the noodles will get soggy.

Courtesy of: Lil Neeley

Serves: 10-12
Calories: 111
Fat: 6 grams

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Salad    
2 Tbsp. olive oil or chicken broth
3 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or 2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh or 1 tsp. dried oregano and basil
10 ounces portabello mushrooms
4 cups mixed greens

Combine all ingredients except greens in plastic zip lock bag. Allow mushrooms to marinate a few minutes to a few hours. Grill or broil mushrooms for about 4 minutes on each side. Spread greens over 4 salad plates. Top with mushrooms. Add a garnish of sliced tomatoes or bell peppers and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with fresh melon and onion bagels.

Serves: 4
Calories: 96
Fat: 2 grams with chicken broth, 7 grams with oil

Broccoli Salad    
1 bunch broccoli, florets and stalks
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup Spanish peanuts
1 small red onion, chopped fine

1 cup fat-free mayonnaise or salad dressing
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1/3 cup sugar

Chop broccoli into small pieces (Include broccoli stalks - peel first, then cut into fine pieces). Add the next 3 ingredients. Mix dressing. Add to salad, mixing well. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.

Serves: 4-6
Calories: 200
Fat: 6 grams

  Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad  
1 bunch broccoli, florets and stalks, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 red onion, chopped
Ranch dressing, fat free

Combine vegetables in a large serving bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables to cover. Stir and chill.

Serves: 8-10
Calories: 44
Fat: < 1 gram
Fiber: 2 grams

    Pea Salad
1 head lettuce, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
4 - 5 green onions (including tops), chopped
10 oz. pkg frozen peas
2 cups mayonnaise, fat free
2 Tbsp. sugar (heaping Tbsps.)
Grated Parmesan cheese, fat free
Imitation bacon bits (optional)

Combine lettuce, pepper, and onion in a 9" X 13" pan. Rinse peas with hot water, drain and sprinkle over salad mixture. Mix sugar and mayonnaise, spread over salad. Sprinkle bacon bits over mayonnaise. Then sprinkle Parmesan cheese as desired over bacon. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Helpful hint: To save time, mix the sugar and mayonnaise ahead and chill.
Serves: 12-15
Calories: 48
Fat: < 1 gram

  Carrot Salad  
1 lb. carrots, grated
1 cup pineapple, diced and drained
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1/2 tsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. mayonnaise, fat free

Combine carrots, pineapple, raisins, marshmallows, and sugar. Add mayonnaise to coat mixture. You may want to add more mayonnaise depending on how moist you like your salads. Chill and serve.

Serves: 10 - 12
Calories: 53
Fat: < 1 gram

Spinach-Orange Salad    
1/2 pound fresh, spinach, washed and trimmed
3 large oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted if desired
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Yogurt-Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 Tbsp. nonfat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar
1 Tbsp. nonfat milk
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. grated orange rind

Combine salad ingredients together in a large bowl; toss gently. Serve with yogurt-poppy seed dressing.

To make yogurt-poppy seed dressing, combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl; stir well. Cover and chill thoroughly. (Makes 1/2 cup.)

NOTE: Toasting nuts enhances and intensifies their flavor so that you can often use less nuts, but still get that wonderful "nutty" taste. To toast nuts, spread them on a shallow pan or baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. Use your microwave when you are in a hurry. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
Serves: 8
Calories: 67
Fat: < 2 grams

  Asparagus Rasberry Salad  
So light and simple, this unlikely blend of flavors has an elegant flair. The contrasting colors of bright green and rich crimson set off any plate. Serve on it's own dish or next to the main course.

1 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup water, divided
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
11/2 cups fresh raspberries

Snip off ends of asparagus. Trim with peeler to remove scales. Cook asparagus covered in small amounts of water about 5-6 minutes or until crisp and tender. Drain, cover and chill.

Combine cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water to blend. Add remaining water, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and ginger. Bring to a boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill.

Gently rinse raspberries. Spread asparagus over 6 salad plates. Add berries, drizzle dressing over all.

Serves: 6
Calories: 49
Fat: 2 grams
Adapted from Cancer Research Newsletter

    Rebecca Sauce
1 cup fat-free sour cream
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. rum or bourbon (optional)

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well.

Serve over fresh fruit (strawberries and blueberries work especially well).

Serves: 16
Calories: 24
Fat: 0 grams

  Pear and Grape Salad  
Colorful, simple and luscious
3 cups spinach leaves, washed
2 sliced pears
1 cup seedless red grapes
1/2 cup celery
2 Tbsp. pecan pieces
1/2 cup plain, lemon or vanilla reduced fat yogurt
1/4 cup apricot or raspberry spreadable fruit

Arrange spinach on platter. Place pears pinwheel fashion on top. Dot with grapes, celery and pecans. Combine yogurt and preserves and serve with salad.

Serves: 4
Calories: 140
Fat: 3 grams

Adapted from the Cancer Institute Newsletter

Chicken and Spinach Salad    
Dressing: 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. salad oil
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

6 oz. fresh spinach or other deep greens
2 oranges or 2 cups chopped cantaloupe
2 cups strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Mix dressing ingredients together in shaker jar with tight fitting lid. Shake and refrigerate until used. Tear spinach or greens into small pieces; place in large salad bowl. Toss in fruit and chicken. Serve with dressing.

Serves: 6-7
Calories: 130
Fat: 6 grams

  Crunchy Barley Salad  
Try barley, high in soluble fiber, as an alternative to rice in many of your favorite recipes.

1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1 small carrot, shredded
1 small tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup diced green peppers
1/3 cup commercial oil-free Italian salad dressing

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes or until barley is tender and water is absorbed.
Combine barley with prepared vegetables. Pour dressing over all; toss gently. Cover and chill before serving.

NOTE: Substitute any of your favorite fresh vegetables in this salad. Your favorite flavored vinaigrette could replace the bottled Italian dressing.

Serves: 4
Calories: 132
Fat: < 1 gram

    Black Bean and Bell Pepper Salad
A bright, colorful salad that's quick and easy.

1 (16-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cooked corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 cup chopped bell pepper (combination of red, green, & yellow peppers)
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne pepper

Gently combine first 6 ingredients. Mix together olive oil and vinegar. Stir into salad mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste.

OPTIONS: Add 1 cup diced tomatoes or salsa for additional color and flavor.

Serves: 5-6
Calories: 118
Fat: 5 grams

Compliments of: Betty Hertz

  Lentil-Rice Salad  
3/4 cups lentils, washed
2 cups water
3/4 cup quick-cooking brown rice
1 medium tomato, diced
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
2-3 green onions with tops, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese, optional

Dressing #1 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Dressing #2
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Add lentils to water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain. Cook rice according to package directions. Mix lentils, rice, and vegetables together. Choose preferred dressing (#1 or #2). Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over vegetable mixture. Chill well before serving. If desired, sprinkle with feta cheese before serving.

NOTE: Couscous or white rice may be substituted for the brown rice.

Serves: 5 (1 cup servings)
Calories: 214
Fat: 1 gram

Roasted Potato Salad    
2 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, diced in bite size pieces
Vegetable spray
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
chopped chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes in a baking dish large enough so they will be in one layer. Spray potatoes with vegetable spray. Top potatoes with garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake about 30 minutes. Turn potatoes, so they will be brown on all sides. In a large serving bowl, combine vinegar and mustard, beat in oil. Add potatoes to dressing mixture. If desired, sprinkle with chives. Serve warm.

Serves: 6
Calories: 250
Fat: < 5 grams

  Cinnamon Spice Chicken Salad  
2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 large apple, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped

2 Tbsp. reduced fat or fat free mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. plain or lemon nonfat yogurt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. pepper

Stir dressing ingredients together in small bowl. Combine chicken, celery, apple and nuts. Spoon dressing over this combination and stir to coat. Serve on bed of deep green lettuce or spinach. Serve with hard rolls.

Serves: 4
Calories: 96
Fat: 4 grams

    Chutney Chicken With Greens
A main dish salad that is quick to prepare. The chutney provides a flavorful dressing for this salad.

2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1 pound)
2/3 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup sliced green onions (include tops)
2/3 cup mango chutney (or other fruit chutney)
6 cups loosely packed torn raw spinach or romaine lettuce

Place almonds on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until toasted. Set aside. (If in a hurry, a microwave can also be used. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and saute on each side until done. Remove chicken from skillet and cut across the grain into thin slices.

Combine chicken slices, celery, onions, and chutney in a bowl. To serve, arrange spinach or lettuce on a salad plate. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over greens. Top with almonds.

Serves: 4
Calories: 250
Fat: 8 grams

  Fruits and Grains  

Grains and fruits mix well together for delicious combinations of flavors and textures. Couscous lends itself to a lighter, smoother taste, while bulgur gives the dish a heartier, nuttier blend of flavors.

1 can pineapple chunks in juice
1 can (14 1/2 oz. ) chicken broth
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
3 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg or allspice (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (10 oz) uncooked couscous or 1 cup bulgur

Drain juice from pineapple into a 3 t. saucepan, reserving the pineapple chunks. Add broth, apricots, raisins, onion, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice, if desired and salt to saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous or bulgur and cover. For Couscous let stand 5 minutes, bulgur will require 10-15 minutes. Place in large bowl and fluff with fork. Stir in reserved pineapple. Garnish with fruit. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 9 (2/3 cup serving)
Fat 1 gram

Tuna Salad    
1 (6-oz.) can tuna, packed in water
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup apple, diced
2 Tbsp. nuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon or 1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine tuna, feta cheese, celery, apples, nuts and tarragon. Mix well. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Serving suggestions: Serve in pocket pita bread or on a bed of lettuce.

Serves: 4
Calories: 100
Fat: < 4 grams

  Watergate Salad  
1 (18-oz.) can pineapple, crushed
1 small box pistachio pudding
1/4 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 (9-oz.) container frozen whipped topping, fat free

Drain pineapple, mix juice with pudding until dissolved. Add pineapple, nuts and marshmallows. Fold in whipped topping and chill.

NOTE: Use rainbow marshmallows for added color.

Serves: 12 - 15
Calories: 53
Fat: < 1 gram