Inside Secrets of Salad Making

by Darcie

Here’s a secret: I never really liked salads. In fact, just recently, on my girls’ weekend in Napa, I ordered a salad and my friend was like, “But you don’t eat salads.”

That used to be true.

A lot has changed since I was an 18-year-old college student, and now I’m a huge fan of salads.

I’m not taking anything fancy. There are tons of incredible blogs out there with 15 ingredients, 30-minutes-to-make salads. If that’s your jam, go for it.

That’s not these salads.

Lately I’ve been into more functional salads. Salads made from “this is what I have in the fridge.” I bet that’s how you roll many days because life gets busy and we can’t – and don’t always want to – buy tons of ingredients and make our own salad dressings.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that sometimes too. I really enjoy cooking and appreciate a homemade dressing, but there are days when I just don’t have the time or energy or desire to whip up a dressing but still want a pretty darn healthy dinner.

And you can too! I encourage you to get creative. If you toss some things into a bowl and it doesn’t taste incredible this time, try something else next time.

Now, some of you might be thinking, I don’t cook at all, so when you say “use whatever’s in your fridge,” there’s nothing, girl.

I hear you. That’s why I’m posting 4 salad recipes that can be used as a guideline to create your own. But I really encourage you to experiment and adjust to your own tastes.

Also, I use Trader Joe’s salad dressings in each recipe to make things ultra-easy. Of course you can make your own, but sometimes you just gotta make things a little easier on yourself!

I’m not including any proportions. Use whatever sounds good to you. You got this, because the inside secret to making a salad is that there is no secret. You can really use whatever you want/have on hand/sounds good.

I’ve made salads before with spinach, avocado, whatever cheese is in the fridge (because every salad needs cheese – duh), and whatever dressing I have on hand. It’s delicious!

If you’re vegetarian, eliminate the meat in any of these recipes. They’re completely customizable.

*Note: all veggies are raw unless otherwise noted.


  • spinach – I use spinach in pretty much every salad because it’s so nutrient-rich. You could also use kale or any green really. But if you want to make the most of your salad health-wise, steer clear of plain ol’ lettuce.
  • black beans
  • pepper jack cheese
  • corn – which I pan-roasted in bacon fat!!
  • avocado
  • diced bell pepper – any color you prefer!
  • Trader Joe’s cilantro dressing


  • spinach
  • chicken pan-fried in ghee with salt to taste
  • chickpeas (from a can)
  • zucchini
  • edamame pan-roasted in ghee
  • broccoli
  • candied pecans (from Trader Joe’s)
  • goat cheese (plain but I’d love to try an herbed one!)
  • Trader Joe’s sesame soy ginger vinaigrette


  • spinach
  • rotisserie chicken (from Costco – the best!)
  • corn pan-roasted in ghee, olive oil, or bacon fat!
  • black beans
  • goat cheese
  • diced bell pepper
  • diced onion
  • avocado
  • Trader Joe’s organic balsamic and fig dressing

Creamy Seafood

  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • zucchini
  • corn – pan-roasted in ghee
  • feta cheese
  • shrimp – pan-fried in ghee
  • Trader Joe’s goddess dressing

Hope you love these suggestions for throw-together salads! Comment your recipes below; I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Featured image by Kaboompics


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