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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna

how to make the perfect salad (with a recipe!)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: N/A

Makes 1 large salad

I've always thought salads are like a blank canvas with a world of opportunity. Honestly! You can pull together so many different ingredients to come up with a thousand combinations. Whatever your brain can mold together, I say go for it.

That said, I tend to follow a loose guide when I make any salad. It creates consistency & allows room for creativity, best of both worlds, right?

Here's what I recommend...

how to design the perfect salad

Step 1: Pick a dressing - I often create a salad around the dressing I want; something creamy, light & refreshing, citrusy, sweet, sour, etc. I've come to believe that a dressing is really where one salad stands out from the next.

Step 2: Choose 1-2 greens for your base - arugula, romaine, kale, mustard greens, dandelion, etc.

Step 3: Pick an herb, dried or fresh - cilantro, parsley, mint, basil, oregano, dill, etc.

Step 4: Pick 1 cooked element - this has taken my salads to a new level! Think sweet potato, onion, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, etc.

Step 5: Pick 1 raw side veg - celery, cucumber, carrots, onion, mushrooms, fennel, etc

Step 6: Choose a sweetener - apple, orange, dried cranberries, apricots, etc.

Step 7: Pick a crunch - walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, etc.

Step 8: Final touches to accentuate - cracked pepper, flaky sea salt, chili flakes, sesame seeds, cheese, sprouts, etc.

Of course, not every salad lines up with this perfectly, like the one below (it's all raw veg) - which is totally fine. This is meant to be a guide that can help you come up with a delicious salad that's a little different every time.

how to design the perfect salad (+ recipe)

the tahini caesar salad recipe

I've never quite understood the craze of a caesar salad. But when the urge for a creamy dressing leaped into my mind, I was ready: a caesar salad but crafted with tahini, a few apples, pumpkin seeds, & loads of arugula. At this point, I'm not sure you could really call it a caesar salad, but, oh well...


Greens: Romaine lettuce is the classic green of choice for a ceasar salad recipe, so it only felt right to include. But, I like salads with more than 1 base item, ya know? Arugula is by far my favorite green, it's very bitter which makes it an excellent option to support the liver's functioning. And because it's bitter, it pairs really nicely with its sweeter, less flavorful friend, romaine.

Dressing: You'll probably have a little leftover, depending on how big your salad ends up. I like to store the leftovers in the fridge & use as a quick dressing for my lunches throughout the week! It comes in handy.

Cheese: Grated parmesan would be the perfect way to round out this recipe. It's not listed as an ingredient because I'm currently omitting dairy, but when I'm not, it will definitely be added.

Pumpkin seeds: I really like these for a caesar salad but of course, whatever you have on hand will do. Pistachios, almonds, & even sunflower seeds are great options. Plus, pumpkin seeds are a great source of phytoestrogens which can help if you're experiencing low levels of estrogen (this is common during menopause or amenorrhea, aka, a missing period).

Hormone balancing ceasar salad

salad ingredients

2 c arugula

1 large head of romaine

1 apple, thinly sliced

c pumpkin seeds

2 celery stalks, chopped

cracked pepper to top

splash of apple cider vinegar

dressing ingredients

⅓ tahini, runny

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

½ Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp water (or more) to thin


Start by preparing the dressing.

In a small jar or container, combine all of the ingredients except the water. Mix together. Add your water to thin the dressing, depending on how thick or thin you'd like it. Feel free to skip the water if you're happy with the consistency. *NOTE: If you notice the dressing looks like it's separating (sorta like curdled milk), add 1 Tbsp of water, mix, & repeat until it comes together again - I promise, it will!

Prepare the salad.

Start by chopping your celery stalks to the size of your preference. Set aside.

Using the sharpest knife you have, thinly slice your apple. Cut the apple in half, then in quarters, & slice from there. Set aside.

Loosely chop your head of romaine & place in a large bowl. Add the arugula, pumpkin seeds, then your chopped celery. Lightly mix together to incorporate. Add the apples & mix again. *NOTE: I tend to add the apples later on to prevent them from breaking as much as possible.

Add about 1/2 of the dressing to your bowl & mix together. Be patient, as you continue to mix, the dressing will disperse more evenly. Then, assess if you think it needs more. If so, add about half of the dressing that's left in the jar & mix again. *NOTE: I typically use 3/4 of the dressing in the salad. Store the remainder in the fridge.

Lastly, add a crack of pepper & a splash of apple cider vinegar. The ACV helps to spread the dressing a bit further & add an extra tang.


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