Balsamic Ginger Vinaigrette + How To Build the Perfect Salad

I know a thing or two about making a good salad.  And by good, I mean downright delicious.  The kind of salad that you never want to end, that you make a little larger each day so it can last longer, and you hesitate when someone asks you if they can have a bite.  That’s the stuff!  What’s gotten me to become a salad queen?  Practice, and homemade dressing. I was hooked the first time I made dressing, and after a few months of tweaking (and the addition of ginger), I am ready to share my results!

This dressing is easy to throw together, and will last you the week.  Forget about added sugars and preservatives because this is the real thing…balsamic vinaigrette how it should always be with the genius addition of fresh ginger!
I like my dressing to be bold and flavorful, that way you can use less without sacrificing taste.  I also happen to be a sucker for garlic and ginger 🙂

When you make this dressing, don’t compromise it’s integrity by putting it on a dull salad.  I’m talking about ice burg lettuce salads with unripe tomatoes and cucumbers.  That’s not a salad! With summer fast approaching, I have been eating nothing but salads for lunch (and sometimes dinner) the past few weeks.  I have a good idea of what makes a salad a solid meal instead of a lame side.  Here are my four key ingredients to a kick-ass salad:

1.  Fresh, Fun Greens.  Get yourself some good spring greens with baby chard and spinach.  Mix arugula, baby kale, and chopped radicchio.
Pair romane lettuce with thin cut collards and mustard greens.  Fresh herbs make a great addition. Simply get creative with your greens!  I usually use a spring mix from Wegmans or the power green mix from Costco (baby kale, baby spinach, and baby swiss chard.)

2. Include some sort of Roasted Veggie or Fresh Fruit.  I say when in doubt, add sweet potatoes.  I recently shared my recipe for crispy smashed sweet potatoes and they make a mean addition to any salad.  My favorite salad creations with them to date have been my burger salad and pecan crouton grilled chicken salad (the combination of the toasted pecans and sweet potatoes made the salad taste like dessert!)

3.  Always Add Avocado.  No exceptions.  Avocado makes everything better.  You gotta trust me on this one.

4.  Protein.  I don’t mean to get all macho on you, but this is an important part of any salad.  If you are making a side salad (or snack salad), then a bit of cheese or some nuts will suffice. However, if you are making a meal out of a salad, you best be adding some sort of protein.  My favorite additions are usually leftovers from dinner or things I can make a lot of at once to last the week (such as grilled chicken, burgers, hard boiled eggs, etc).  If you are vegan/vegetarian, throw on some tempeh, beans, or high protein grains like quinoa, buckwheat, or wheat berries.  Just make sure you are adding some sort of protein to your salad up or it won’t fill you up 😛

If you’ve been following me on instagram, you know just how salad obsessed I am.  I love the variety salads offer as well as their size.  Who would rather eat a small sandwich when you could be eating a divine salad the size of your head, guiltlessly?!  I hope to inspire you to catch the salad bug with this delicious dressing recipe.  If you follow my four steps to build the perfect salad (and use my balsamic ginger vinaigrette) you too will become a salad fiend!
Balsamic Ginger Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 garlic cloves, zested
1-2 tsp zested fresh ginger
salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk everything together until well blended.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge.  
*It is normal for the dressing to separate and slightly solidify.  Either take it out 10 minutes before dressing your salad, or microwave it for a few seconds.
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