Posted by: Hil | January 13, 2009

Formula for a Fantastic Salad


One of the most important staples in my brown bag repertoire is the whole grain salad.  These salads are equally delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature and you can make them in advance for the whole week, so they are the perfect entree for a brown bag lunch.  And if you design them well, these salads can be a nutritious meal in and of themselves.

I vary my salads depending on what I have in the fridge, but I tend to follow the same general formula:

  1. The Base–cooked whole grains, beans, or whole grain pasta
  2. A red fruit or vegetable–orange or yellow can work, too; the point is the contrasting color and flavor
  3. A green vegetable or leafy herb
  4. Dressing–Lemon and evoo is my favorite, but vinaigrette, peanut sauce, pesto and soy sauce with sesame oil can also be great, depending on the dish
  5. Cheese, toasted nuts, seeds or meat for garnish (optional)
  6. Salt & Pepper and any other dried herbs or flavorings you care to add

If you think about it this way, these salads pretty much invent themselves.  You will pretty much always be able to make a salad according to this formula from what you have on hand, particularly if you keep roasted bell peppers or sun dried tomatoes in the pantry as a back-up option.  If you have a variety of colors in your dish, your dish will look pretty and you will probably have a variety of flavors, too. 

For this week’s salad, I used (1) half a pound of whole grain orzo, (2) one chopped red bell pepper, (3) three or four large handfuls of spinach, (4) lemon juice and olive oil and (5) a couple ounces of crumbled feta cheese from the farmers market.  I stumbled on this combination awhile ago and it is one of my favorites.  I will definitely enjoy eating this for the rest of the week!



  1. Your salad looks amazing! I’ve been looking for something like this for when school starts! Thank you!

    First time commenting, just wanted to say that I love your blog!

  2. That salads looks AMAZING! I love any grain pasta – and actually crave it COLD! I’m going to have to take a stab at your version – its making me hungry!

  3. I love grain salads, too. My fav is tabouleh in the summertime!

  4. Sounds great. Getting in a whole bunch of food groups!

  5. Wonderful dish!!

    **Just as a heads up: I will not be able to comment on blogs as often now, during this semester, due to work overload (I’m stressed already) – PLEASE know that I’m still loyally reading, but just won’t have time to comment. I hope you understand!!

  6. yum yum, i do this same sort of thing 🙂 in fact… i did it this week and that looks oddly familiar!

  7. I like these salads too because I’ve found they are good cold or warmed up!

  8. oh wow this looks pretty awesome! i should try it out sometime~

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