how to put a dinner salad on the table everynight

When I mention that we eat a dinner salad almost every night, M-F, I get furrowed brows and lots of hows? No one asks why, because most of us know, because most of us are looking for simple ways to get more vegetables into our day and into the bellies of our tiny humans. But how? I once heard a simple vegetable wisdom. It goes like this: If you want to get more vegetables into mealtimes, especially with kids, start with them. Fill up on them first.


This post was created in an ongoing partnership with Roth Cheese, makers of handcrafted alpine-style cheeses made in Wisconsin. This month I’m playing with Roth Flavor Ups™ Blue Cheese Crumbles. These convenient, single-serve cups preserve freshness and reduce food waste.

So we did and we do. About a year or two ago, we started starting most meals with the vegetable, with a salad, like a first course. Courses sound fussy and fancy. I agree. But this dinner salad is neither of those things. In order to make it extra doable, to make it actually happen, I have a couple rules for myself: no chopping or grating. Just tossing and crumbling. Rules are just parameters for creating, for executing, for pulling off an idea. Figure out what yours are, where your tipping point is, and stay within those boundaries. 

In branding, they say to create an expectation and meet it again and again and again. Dinnertime isn’t so different. With this rhythm, there’s a little less negotiating, a little less dread, and not as much complaining around vegetable-eating from the tiniest among us. Once we finish our salad, we move on to the rest of the meal, usually sitting on a hot pad off to my right, Kev’s left, which is something to look forward to, something to expect, if you’re 6. 

Let’s break this down to doable.

Red wine vinaigrette recipe

How to Put a Dinner Salad on the Table Every Night

Main rule: Keep it super simple (KISS) when composing a dinner salad. It’s a side salad, meant to go on the side, not stand in as the main meal. Let it be that. To compose, stick to these 4 components: loose leaf greens, house dressing, crumbly cheese, and crunchy sprinkles.

LOOSE LEAF GREENS

Stock your favorite loose leaf salad greens. Think spring mix or arugula, greens that need no special preparation, chopping, or washing. (See below for storage tips.)

HOUSE DRESSING

Make a homemade, house dressing at the start of the week (or month). Think like a restaurant here and have a house dressing recipe or two in your back pocket. I typically keep one homemade dressing around the house at a time. Our current dressing: Red Wine Vinaigrette. (See below for the recipe.)

CRUMBLY CHEESE

Pick your favorite crumbly cheese for added texture and tang. Think Roth Flavor Ups™ Blue Cheese Crumbles, Roth Chèvre Goat Cheese, or another crumbly cheese (like feta) that can crumble under the weight of your fingers. Crumble on the whole salad or serve on the side. The beauty of using a crumbly cheese is that no grating is necessary. No extra dirty dishes. You can also crumble to taste preferences. We’re a house divided over here. Surprise, surprise. Kev is so happy about these single-serve cups. Now he can have his Blue Cheese on a daily basis at home. NOTE: The Flavor Ups™ come in a pack of 3 and stay fresh in the fridge for several weeks.

CRUNCHY SPRINKLES

Top with nuts or seeds. Think something crunchy and salty. We spring for salted sunflower seeds almost every time. Keep your preferred crunchy sprinkles stocked in the pantry.

EXTRAS

Anything extra is, well, extra. Add as time permits. Grate carrots, slice green onions, sprinkle with dried or thinly sliced fresh fruit to change things up, as the season permits, when the fridge has a little extra.

homemade red wine vinaigrette

Dinner Salad Tools

I keep a couple trusty tools around to help pull this off, most notably the mixing bowls also used at salad shops. They’re lightweight, easy to wash, and store. I have 5 of the same size.  

spring mix

Tips for Crispy Greens Throughout the Week

I can hear your question. But how do you keep your greens fresh throughout the week? Here are a couple of things to try. 

  • Buy the freshest greens at the store. I vary between boxed and bulk lettuce, whichever looks the crispiest on that particular day at the store. Trust your eyes.
  • Remove any wet, decaying greens right away as they’ll take down the whole lot. 
  • Store greens in a bag with a paper towel or produce keeper container to keep moisture build-up away from the greens. 
  • Try storing in different areas of your fridge to find the best results. Our fridge has cold spots, which causes the greens to freeze and thaw and wilt. 

Happy house salading (if you’re into that sort of thing)!

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how to put a dinner salad on the table everynight

House Dinner Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette


  • Yield: 1/2 c. dressing 1x
Scale

Ingredients

Red WineVinaigrette

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
a couple cracks of pepper
6 tbsp. olive oil

Salad

loose leaf greens
sunflower seeds
crumbly cheese (like Roth Flavor Ups™ Blue Cheese Crumbles, Roth Chèvre Goat Cheese, or feta)
a couple cracks of pepper 


Instructions

  1. At the start of the week, make the vinaigrette in the large salad bowl. Add all the vinaigrette ingredients except for the olive oil. Whisk to combine. (NOTE: I like to use my microplane zester to finely mince the garlic in this recipe.) Add in the oil and whisk until emulsified, until the oil and vinegar have become one. Leave enough dressing in the bottom of the bowl for the salad that night, pouring off the rest in a jar. Store at room temperature for up to a month. Feel free to double or triple the recipe, making once a month. 
  2. To the salad bowl, add the greens, just enough for one sitting. Using salad tongs, gently toss to thoroughly coat the greens in the dressing. Taste, adding more as needed. Top with sunflower seeds, crumbly cheese, and a couple cracks of fresh pepper. 

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Roth cheeses can be found in your grocer’s deli case and online via Instacart and Amazon Fresh. To find Roth Flavor Ups™ Blue Cheese Crumbles near you, head this way for the store locator.

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