Monday, September 2, 2013

The Salad Algorithm: Infinitely Appetizing

Have you ever wanted a tasty salad, but had no idea what to put in it besides just lettuce and tomatoes? Have you ever had a great idea, but not the ingredients, nor the drive to go to the store to get them? If so, this one's for you. By following a simple algorithm for choosing five ingredients, you're minutes away from a fresh, delightful delicacy no matter the goods in your groceries!

Without further ado, the Salad Algorithm:

Green + Fruit + Nut + Cheese + Onion = SALAD

Believe it or not, this works. I discovered it myself when attempting to make one of my all time favorite salads (the Strawberry Spinach Salad) for my family in Germany. The only thing was, we didn't have most of the ingredients. Luckily, we're a clever bunch and we started doing what any clever, hungry people would do in such a situation - substitute! Feldsalat for spinach, a fancy French cheese for Monterey Jack, white onions for green... you get the picture. 

The funny thing was, for all these changes we made, the salad was clearly no longer Strawberry Spinach, but it was still amazing. We realized that by matching the basic flavor profile for ingredients, nearly any combination would be delicious! And so, the Salad Algorithm was born. (Special thanks to my Aunt Mary for the catchy title!)

And now some examples, just to get the creative juices flowing...

The greens (and pinks and yellows).

It's easy to fall into a rut with greens for a salad, grabbing a head of iceberg lettuce or a bag of spring greens every time we're at the store. Well, in case you're interested in what else is available out there, check these out! Clockwise from the top: rainbow chard, baby spinach, romaine, green leaf lettuce and butter lettuce. Each one has a different texture and taste, so be sure to explore the produce aisle and find your favorites!

Be fruitful!

Next up: fruits! The examples seen here are all fairly common and easy to find - pears, nectarines, mango, Fuji apples, dried apricots and raspberries. As you can see, the fruit doesn't have to be fresh, though fresh is nice and juicy. Dried cranberries are already quite the staple in many salad makers' homes, but why not try something a little unexpected, like apricots? (FYI, unless you're an apricot hater, you won't be disappointed.)

Aw, nuts!

And now it's time for the nuts (or seeds if you prefer). These little guys not only add a nice crunch, but also some valuable protein. Clockwise from the top: pepitas, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts. That last one is pretty expensive, but it's also pretty scrumptious. Try roasting them for extra flavor!

My, these captions are cheesy!

Where would we be without cheese? Clockwise from the upper left: blue cheese, Colby Jack, mozzarella, smoked Gouda and shaved Parmesan. Adding cheese to a salad gives your creation a savory, creamy component that you might not get if you opt for a vinaigrette type salad dressing or even none at all. Just like the other ingredient categories, the possibilities are endless!

Don't worry, the tears are for the joy of eating!

Even the onions have much variety to choose from. Not just white and yellow, but leeks, green onions, shallots, red onions and pearl onions, too! My personal favorites for salads are red or green onions, but it's definitely worthwhile to expand your horizons and find out which pairings work best for your taste buds, too.

With the ingredients done, I do believe it's SALAD TIME!

Green leaf lettuce, raspberries, pine nuts, smoked Gouda and leeks.

Romaine, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, blue cheese and pearl onions.

Rainbow chard, nectarines, walnuts, mozzarella and shallots.

Butter lettuce, Fuji apples, pepitas, Colby Jack and green onions.

Baby spinach, pears, almonds, shaved Parmesan and red onions.

If you're looking for a delectable dressing to go with your salad, the following recipe is a great option. While designed for the salad that inspired it all (the Strawberry Spinach Salad seen below), its combination of flavors compliments any creation from the Salad Algorithm. (Note: the recipe makes enough dressing for salads several times over, so be ready to eat!)

Simple Salad Dressing
                                                      1 C vegetable oil
                                                      1/2 C red (or white) wine vinegar
                                                      1/3 C sugar
                                                      1/2 tsp salt
                                                      1/4 tsp ground white pepper
                                                      2 cloves garlic, minced
                                                      1/2 tsp paprika

Spinach, strawberries, almonds, Monterey Jack and green onions.
Homemade Simple Salad Dressing on the side.

You may have noticed that apart from the salad dressing, there are no actual measurements for the different ingredients listed in the Salad Algorithm. That's because the algorithm itself is not a recipe with steps and amounts to follow to the letter (or the number). It was born out of creativity and open for more. Explore, innovate and have fun doing it! 
Bon App├ętit!


  1. WOW! They all look Great....
    I like your watermark also.

    1. Thank you! We've got extra if you're interested! ;)