I’m not a big fan of store-bought, already prepared salads because I think creating your own can be creative and delicious. It’s all about really crafting something gorgeous, and guess what? It takes no time at all. Here are a few basics:

1. Pick a great base

Pick something fun, maybe baby kale for texture, arugula for a peppery taste, butter lettuce for well, a buttery taste or red leaf lettuce or frisee for something different…get crazy. And forget about iceberg and romaine!

NOTE: I buy lettuce in a box or bag depending on where I am. I’ll grab free-form lettuce from the farmers market, a box of triple-washed spinach or baby kale from Whole Foods, or a bag of arugula from the health food store. I always try to look through the boxes and bags to make sure the lettuce looks as fresh as possible. Sometimes if one or two pieces look a little limp, I’ll skip that bag and move to the next.

2. Add Veggies

Add various vegetables with different textures. You can add them raw such as carrots, cauliflower or celery. Or you can add some leftover grilled vegetables or roasted sweet potatoes from dinner two nights ago…it’s all fair game!

3. Add Dressing

Do you want something like a vinaigrette, or do you want a creamy base?

I really support making your own salad dressing. It’s super easy, and I do it once a week on Sunday afternoons, so I have it on hand for the week. Just stick all the ingredients in a blender, and let it do all the work for you—voilà! I store it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it as needed. Super easy and way healthier than a store-bought dressing.

4. Give it some crunch

Throw in some nuts, seeds, croutons, etc.

5. Throw on some protein

Add some grilled chicken, roasted salmon, poached shrimp, etc. It’s a good idea to get protein in at every meal for extra energy.

6. Add the extra goodies like cheese, herbs, fresh fruit, toasted quinoa, hemp seeds, etc.

Then it’s game time! Toss it up and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

Cobb Salad with Asparagus, Artichokes & Avocado

  • 2 heads butter lettuce separated into individual leaves and roughly chopped
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 Easter radish, very thinly sliced
  •  1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
  •  3 T. chopped fresh dill
  • 3 T. chopped fresh mint
  •  8 canned artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 12 oz. roasted asparagus (recipe follows), cut into 2-inch pieces
  •  Lemon-Champagne Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl. Top with the sliced cucumbers, radish, avocado, dill, mint, artichoke hearts, and roasted asparagus.
  2. Toss with the lemon-champagne vinaigrette, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Roasted Asparagus

  • 2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
  •  1 T. olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  •  1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
  •  Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra lemon wedges
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence and place in the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, until just tender.
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, drizzle with lemon juice, and dust with the lemon zest.

Lemon-Champagne Vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  •  1 T. Champagne vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

The dressing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Serves 4 to 6

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