The Salad Trend You Didn't Know You Needed
Spiralized salads give you all the delicious noodliness of pasta salad with the veggie-packed, low-carb goodness of a green salad.
This month I'm taking on EatingWell's salad-a-day challenge. That's right-every day for the next 31 days I will be eating salad for lunch. (If you want to hold me to my word, follow me on Instagram to see my progress and delicious salad solutions.) But I'm not one of those people who packs the same thing for lunch every day. I get bored easily-when I'm cooking for myself, I never choose recipes that make more than 2 servings, because I only want to eat the leftovers once. Introducing the salad trend that's changing my life: spiralized salad. It's like the love child of a green salad and pasta salad: all the delicious noodliness of a pasta salad with all the veggie-packed, low-carb goodness of a green salad. And the best part? You don't even need a recipe. Just follow this basic formula to come up with endless zoodle-y salad combos of your own. Salad-a-day, here I come!
Related: The Best Spiralizer on the Market
Step 1: Spiralize
Using a spiral vegetable slicer with the chipper blade attachment (for thick noodles), cut your veg lengthwise into "noodles." Then give those noodles a rough chop into 2-inch lengths to make the salad easier to eat-you don't want to be noisily slurping up veggie noodles in the office at lunch every day, that's just embarrassing. Start with a hearty vegetable that can stand up to your spiralizer, such as one of these:
- Summer squash
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
Step 2: Add Your Mix-Ins
All those veggie noodles make a great salad base (you can even spiralize a whole bunch on Sunday so you have them ready to throw into packable salads for lunch all week long!), but what's a salad without plenty of other mix-ins? Add extra veggies, cheese, nuts and even fruit for color and texture. Try a few of my favorites as a jumping-off point:
- Pearl-size fresh mozzarella balls
- Cubed feta cheese
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Diced avocado
- Sliced olives
- Chopped pecans
- Sliced olives
- Sliced strawberries
Step 3: Dress It
I'm not going to say it's the best part of the salad, but man, dressing is a very important component, so don't skip this step! Plus, a little bit of fat helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, like A, E and K, from all those veggies. For a simple homemade vinaigrette, combine 1/4 cup oil (try extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil) with 2 tablespoons vinegar (such as red-wine, cider or balsamic) plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (like oregano, basil, cilantro or rosemary) and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; use 2 tablespoons of this combo per serving. Or for a major time-saver, use a bottled dressing with a simple ingredient list.
What's so great about a spiralized salad is that since it's made up of sturdy veggies instead of tender greens, you can pack it with the dressing already on it in the morning and you won't have a soggy salad come lunchtime. Instead, the veggie noodles will marinate all morning and take on tons of yummy flavor.
Step 4: Top It Off
If you stop after Step 3, you'll have an awesome salad to take to a potluck or barbecue for an impressive (and easy!) vegetable side dish. But if you're packing these babies for lunch, like I do, you can add some protein to give the salad more staying power until dinner-3 to 4 ounces of protein per serving does the trick. Enjoy any of these protein-providing toppers:
- Grilled chicken
- Sauteed shrimp
- Roasted chickpeas
- Hard-boiled egg