Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, Mains, Recipes

Better Homemade Salads + Dressing Recipe

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe.


After a sobering swimsuit try-on session and a horrifying facial break out, I recently committed to eating more greens. Fruits and veggies, especially dark, leafy greens, are not only kind to your waistline but also help do things like balance out your hormones. Another measure I am taking is cutting way back on my sugar intake. This has been HARD but something I’ve known I needed to do for quite a long time. I stopped adding sugar to my tea, oatmeal, etc. a while back but could not say no to a cupcake…or a pack of Starburst at the grocery store checkout. The list goes on and on. Am I eating sugar-free salads for every meal and washing them down with green juice? Boy, bye! But I am taking steps to maintain some balance and not be powerless against the sugary sweet things in life.

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

It’s been over a year since I posted my chopped southwestern salad here so when I decided to make a big meal salad for my lunch prep this week I thought I’d share with y’all my method for making restaurant-quality salads at home as well as a quick and [ridiculously] easy salad dressing recipe at the bottom. These are basic components I look to incorporate into every salad whether I make it at home or order when I’m eating out to keep things interesting.

Green Base

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

This is a given. When you think salad you think of green. My daddy calls salads “plates of leaves” which, while technically true, is his way of disparaging and turning down the meal. Believe it or not, the type of green you choose is important to the type of salad groove you’re going for. Types like kale and chard are hardier and usually take a little finesse. You’ll want to let your dressing marinate on them for a little while. Butter and Bibb lettuces are softer (hence the names), while types such as romaine and iceberg are very crispy. Pre-mixed salad bags at the grocery store make choosing easier but buying the lettuce heads or bundles yourself is way cheaper. My favorites are spinach, kale, and arugula.

Color

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

It’s true that we eat with our eyes first. To me, any dish that is just one color is just not right. I look for a variety of colors in the form of produce and toppings, which also helps me add different textures. Win-win.

Flavor

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

I love adding fruit to my salads for sweet-tooth-related reasons mentioned above but sweet isn’t the only taste I employ. Things like Granny Smith apples or dried cranberries will add tartness, Citrus will add zest and acidity. Even different types of greens have different flavors.

Crunch

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

Speaking of textures, I always add a crunchy thing or two because a mushy salad is not only unappetizing but also boring. Consider nuts, seeds, croutons, pita chips, toasted coconut or crisp veggies like carrots or fresh cucumber for crunch and things like avocado or different cheeses for creaminess.

Protein

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

I’m clearly not a vegetarian so, for me, protein usually means it used to be alive. Chicken, fish, shrimp, and even the occasional piece of red meat are in my regular rotation. Of course, you can get your protein from other sources. This is just my preference. Adding meat makes a salad feel more like a full meal to me.

Dress it up and make it real for me.

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

Some view salad dressing as optional. Not me. Have I eaten dry salad before? Yes, but I was under duress. 🙂 A good dressing can bring all the flavors of your dry components together beautifully AND provide some added nutritional benefits. Put down the ranch. The basic components of any vinaigrette are oil and vinegar. From there, you can add your own flair. My easy apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe is just below. It’s simple but delicious with a little kick.

Easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette Recipe

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (I use the kind with the mother)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar, zip-top bag, or other sealable container and SHAKE. That’s it! Store in the fridge and shake well before each use. Makes about 8 servings.

Make better homemade salads with this collection of simple tips, an easy & good-for-you apple cider vinaigrette dressing recipe by Dash of Jazz

With the above in mind, I try to incorporate at least five different ingredients into each salad, which almost always guarantees I hit the flavor, texture, and color marks. What do y’all like best in your salads? Let me know below. Thanks for reading!

Signature Dash of Jazz

P.S. More yummy salads: Crunchy Kale Salad, Grilled Sesame Chicken w/Beets & Arugula

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11 Comments

  1. Beautiful salad! And nothing beats a homemade dressing!

    1. Thank you! So true, homemade is always the best.

  2. Love a good homemade dressing!!!

    1. Me too lol! Thanks for reading.

  3. […] smaller containers. For example, I used a gallon-sized zip top bag and the jar pictured to store my perfect salad and homemade dressing for work a couple of weeks ago and just served some up in a bowl each day. This is ideal for meals […]

  4. Love this! It looks so yummy and of course, very nutritious!

    xo, Amanda | http://www.thegoldengirldiary.com

  5. Oh this sound delicious! WIll have to make ASAP

    Rachel | http://www.theconfusedmillennial.com

  6. I love salads, which is a good thing. Not only are they nutritious, but, having Celiac disease it is sometimes the only choice at restaurants. I think one of my favorite vegetables in a salad is shredded or spiralized butternut squash. The variations are only limited by your imagination. Your dressing sounds delicious. I love homemade dressings.

  7. I’m a vegetarian obsessed with salads. For protein I love sunflower seeds, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, pecans, almonds or a hard boiled egg!

    1. Jazz

      Thank you for reading! I LOVE chopped hard boiled egg in my salads.

  8. […] smaller containers. For example, I used a gallon-sized zip top bag and the jar pictured to store my perfect salad and homemade dressing for work a couple of weeks ago and just served some up in a bowl each day. This is ideal for meals […]

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