Plus my go-to easy salad dressing that goes with basically everything.

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

By mid-February, we can all agree that spring is getting closer (even if it doesn't feel like it in Vermont). After the doldrums of December and January where I only want to eat warm foods in a bowl, I start to crave foods that are fresh and light. Late February is also usually when I start planning and daydreaming about my garden, which may or may not help my cause. Since fresh flavors and snappy produce is on my brain, I wanted to share my go-to hack to make my salad more craveable and interesting.

There is one very versatile ingredient that I add generously to all of my salads: herbs! Plenty of salad recipes are heavy on the herbs, like Parsley Tabbouleh, but I like to brighten up a simple green salad with the fresh taste of basil or dill. Nearly every night, I include a side salad with a romaine base and lots and lots of herbs on top. My favorite herbs to use are parsley, cilantro, basil and dill (or some combination of them). I imagine that tarragon, mint and chives would be really delicious additions as well. They mix well with crunchy greens like romaine without overpowering it.


Herbs boast some pretty impressive health benefits, too. One half cup of parsley has 61% of our daily vitamin C needs, 12% of our daily folate needs and 11% of our daily iron needs. Oregano is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods around, with one tablespoon having four times more antioxidants than a serving of blueberries. Rosemary and mint also have impressive antioxidant and nutrient profiles. Adding generous amounts of herbs to your salads can help you get through the huge bunches you get at the grocery store. Cut down on food waste and boost your nutrition with this one simple trick.

To top it all off, I make a super simple, pleasantly bright salad dressing that is ready in 2 minutes. We have ample delicious salad dressings and vinaigrettes, but this easy combination is my go-to. Here is my formula:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp dijon mustard
  • Salt & black pepper

You could easily swap out the lemon juice for vinegar, which I'll do sometimes if I want something with a stronger flavor. Balsamic, red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar all work great in this "recipe". This light dressing brings the salad together and lets the greens and herbs shine without being too strong.

Side salads are a great way to add extra vegetables to your meals. Plus, having them consistently and using ample herbs can help you add a healthy boost and get through your grocery haul before it goes bad. Try this easy herby salad for a fresh, easy addition to your meal tonight.