Best Dressed

I eat salads every day for lunch. I've always loved them, I especially love topping salads with a protein or root vegetable, piping hot from the skillet or oven. A big piece of pan seared salmon on a perfectly-dressed bed of greens. A serving of pulled chicken atop a bowl of creamy slaw. A bowl piled up with olive oil-dressed greens, grains and crispy, roasted sweet potatoes. Those are my kind of salads.

Packing salad for lunch is tricky. Dressing on the side is a must for most salads, and I'm always on the hunt for salads that can be dressed in advance.I've assembled four of my go-to salads that make for both convenient and delicious lunchtime munching.

Kale Caesar Salad

Bring on the memes. I'm all for a good kale joke. This trendy, superfood is the same curly leaf that decorated the Wendy's salad bar back in the day, so it's funny to me that this banquet dinner garnish is a trending topic on social media. And now I'll eat my words: when properly prepared, this is one killer salad. Working the greens is key. It's time consuming, and oh, so worth it. The dressing is salty-tangy-cheesy goodness, and the kale is just the right green to hold up to it. That's right, romaine. Move over. All hail, kale.

Shirazi Salad

This cucumber and tomato salad looks a whole lot like the salad a grew up eating during the Louisiana summertime when creole tomatoes and cucumbers were overflowing on our countertop produce basket. This Persian salad is an absolute delight with its lemon-lime combo, red onion and pop of fresh mint. This is a must for summertime produce but works well any time of year with grape or cherry tomatoes. I love topping a bed of greens with a big spoonful of this salad and topping with roast chicken. It's also excellent on its own with a cup of soup or a sandwich.

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Cauliflower subs in for the traditional cracked wheat or bulgur in this Middle Eastern salad. I'm in love with this salad, and I really mean it when I say that I don't miss the carb-heavy components. You're never going to convince me that cauliflower can stand in for rice-I'd rather just call it what it is: cauliflower. But in this salad, I absolutely adore the crunch and blank canvas that this cruciferous veggie offers. The cucumber, red onion, chickpeas and lemony vinaigrette shine. I often nosh on this salad on its own, but it also makes a great side for lamb meatballs. So yummy.

Jalapeno Peach Black Bean Salad

Crunchy, hearty, tasty. This salad hits all the marks. I often serve this one with chips for dipping-like a salsa. It's also a great topping for grilled fish and shrimp. I make this one often on Sundays to enjoy throughout the week with my salads. I especially like making a bowl with creamy slaw, a big spoonful of this salad and sautéed shrimp, hot from the skillet. A southwest bowl of deliciousness   



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