Early last year I was on a huge salad hiatus. I simply couldn’t get salads to taste good anymore. They were too bland, too blah. Quite frankly, they were living up to their reputation of tasting like cardboard and rabbit food.
Then one day I was assisting with a photo shoot and the recipe editor announced that she had made us a big salad for lunch. Expecting a few leaves of romaine and bottled dressing, I grabbed a bowl and headed to the kitchen.
Next she asked if we would like a poached egg. I love poached eggs, but I’d never tried an egg on a salad. I accepted as I cast my eyes over all the delicious toppings set out on the counter next to a large bowl of mixed greens tossed in a simple miso dressing.
That egg and those toppings ended my salad hiatus. This is what I was forgetting about salads! I like stuff on my salads. In an effort to cut out high-sugar toppings, like my favorite dried cranberries, I’d managed to get my salad down to an unappealing mix of lettuces and tasteless dressings.
Since that day, all those tasty toppings have inspired me to create my favorite go-to salad. I eat it several days a week for lunch. It’s super simple to pull together and plenty filling. If you make a hard boiled or 8-minute egg (like I have here), you can cook those up early in the week and they’ll be ready to go at lunch time.
The recipe here is for the salad pictured, but the exact ingredients change for me from time to time. I have come up with a basic list of must-include components to make the kinds of salads that I actually enjoy eating.
- Mix the greens. Choose a spring mix or make your own with lettuces, spinach and arugula. It just needs something more than basic romaine. It also needs more than one variety to give it flavor and texture.
- Chop it up. Well chopped greens are equally as important as the toppings for me.
- Add a cruciferous veggie. I use massaged kale most often. I get it. Not everyone likes kale. Finely chopped broccoli slaw or thinly sliced cabbage are my second favorites.
- Red onion makes it better. Just a little bit of pungent flavor is perfect.
- Make a dressing with olive oil, a vinegar, honey (if you need it) and a pinch of salt and pepper. When I use balsamic, I add a little honey. Sometimes I use a mandarin vinegar that is sweet enough without honey.
- Grab more than one bowl. We’ve got to overcome the one-bowl prep thing here. It’s okay. It literally takes about 45 seconds to wash an extra one. You’ll need a large bowl for whisking the dressing and tossing the greens. Then you can transfer everything to your pretty serving bowl.
- Use smoked and/or dry roasted and salted nuts. Give it some flavor.
- Use unsalted seeds. Save on your sodium here.
- Trade beans for a big scoop of hummus. It’s so smooth and creamy and mixes throughout the salad as you eat it.
- Put an egg on it. I prefer my 8-minute egg like I have pictured here, but poached works. Or go full hard-boiled.
- Add a sprinkle of a strong cheese. Here it’s aged shredded Parm. Feta is another good option.
Boom! Delicious salad success.
To say that this is my favorite winter salad isn’t completely accurate. That’s because it’s my favorite salad in spring, summer and fall, too.
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup finely chopped kale leaves
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 large pinch ground black pepper
- 2 cups mixed lettuces, such as spring mix, chopped
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped smoked almonds
- 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared hummus
- Coarse ground black pepper
- Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full with water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly, but maintain the boil. Use a spoon to carefully add the egg to the water. Cook uncovered for 8 minutes.* Drain the hot water and immediately rinse the egg in cold water. Set aside. You can start on the salad while the egg cooks.
- Add the kale to a small bowl. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Use clean hands to massage the oil and salt into the kale. Let sit while you prepare the dressing.
- In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey. Next, whisk in the the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and then the pinch of black pepper.
- Add the lettuce and red onion to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat. Add the kale and toss again until all ingredients are evenly coated in dressing. Transfer the greens to a serving bowl.
- Sprinkle the almonds and pumpkin seeds over the salad and then sprinkle on the cheese. Place the scoop of hummus on one side of the salad, on top of the greens. Peel and cut the egg in half. Arrange cut-side up on the salad. Sprinkle the salad with coarse ground black pepper and serve.
- *I've been playing around with cooking times and methods to get my perfect egg for a while. This method gets the yolk just the way I like it - set, but still viscous and creamy. I've found that if my heat settings aren't exactly the same every time, the results aren't consistent. Since stoves vary, you may need to play around with the timing until you find your perfect egg. You can cook more than one egg at a time. They'll all be ready in 8 minutes. I usually do about 3 at a time.
Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.