Introduction: "Everything & the Kitchen Sink" Salad

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

We've all heard the saying, "Everything but the kitchen sink." Well this salad formula is everything AND the kitchen sink...because nothing is off limits!

Use as much or as little as you already have in your kitchen, and just plug it into this formula accordingly.

I've come to learn that a GREAT salad--one that you'll crave--comes from a mix of anything and everything you can throw in it! The plethora of textures, colors, and flavors keeps your taste buds guessing and your mouth begging for more.

This salad formula I've created will combine each step's ingredients per roughly 2 cups of lettuce. Also, when a specific amount is given, it is referring to the TOTAL amount of everything you want to mix in from that category. For example, if it's 1/2 cups of grains and legumes, that would be 1/2 cups total of a mix of rice, couscous, quinoa, beans, etc per every 2 cups of lettuce.

Let's begin...

Step 1: Lettuces Galore

Lettuces Galore: Mix and match as many lettuce types as you have on hand. Butter lettuce, red, endive, wild, iceberg, romaine, spinach, mignonette, oakleaf, red coral, radicchio, cos, rocket, watercress, chicory, etc etc etc. Whatever tickles your fancy. :) I like to buy the "Artisan" lettuce packs because they come with four different types already in them.

Use as much as you'd like.

Step 2: Seeds & Nuts (omit If Allergic)

Flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, etc seeds. Almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnut, Brazilian, etc nuts.

Add in roughly 2 Tablespoons-1/4 cup (aka 4 Tablespoons) per every 2 cups lettuce.

Step 3: Legumes & Grains (omit If Allergic)

Add some legumes and grains to your salad (unless you're allergic). This adds another layer of textures to make your salad even more enjoyable. These can include rice, quinoa, couscous, lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.

Add about 1/2 cup of legumes/grains for every 2 cups of lettuce.

Step 4: Something Sweet

Adding in something sweet keeps the savory and saltiness of the rest of your salad grounded. Oh how your taste buds will love the hints of sweet! This category includes raisins, dried cranberries, pickled beets, agave nectar (usually added to the dressing, not drizzled over the salad...but there's a first for everything lol), fruits (dried and/or fresh, including tomatoes), etc.

Use as much as you'd like.

Step 5: Veggies

Add in a plethora of veggies. This includes broccoli, onions, cauliflower, peppers, celery, carrots, etc.

Use as much as you'd like.

Step 6: Something Unexpected

Always include something unexpected! Something that seems even unrelated to what is already in your salad. Such unexpected items may include artichokes, black or green olives, spicy items like jalapeno peppers, sour or tangy items (like lemons), hummus, etc.

Keep these to roughly 1/3-1/2 cup for every 2 cups of salad. This keeps your mouth guessing and enjoying the "hunt" for these special endeavors.

Step 7: Spices and Herbs

If you plan to use something simple for a dressing (such as olive oil), you can add in different spices, seasonings, and herbs (fresh or dried) to add some fun and pizzazz to your salad. These include salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasonings, nutritional yeast flakes, etc.

Use just a sprinkle of each. So roughly 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon altogether per every 2 cups of salad.

Step 8: A Simple Dressing & Optional Items

With all the amazing naturally-occurring flavors in your salad, it'd be a shame to cover them all up with a heavy or strong dressing. So use something light. I like mixing together olive oil, minced garlic, Bragg's amino "soy" sauce, and nutritional yeast flakes. An even simpler go-to is just olive oil with lemon juice (and maybe salt and pepper). The choice is yours. Mix it up, change the dressing for each salad you create, and make something you love! Be sure to taste-test the dressing as you create it to get exactly the flavor you're going for.

Use only the amount of dressing you need to finish off your salad...nothing more, nothing less. For 2 cups of lettuce, I enjoy roughly a couple Tablespoons of dressing.

Optional Additions: For those who want to beef up their, sorry about the pun ;) can add meat, cheese, yogurt, etc.

Use these items sparingly as they add cholesterol and fats to your salad (and your arteries). I'd suggest keeping the combination of these items to roughly 1/4-1/2 cup per every 2 cups of lettuce.

Step 9: Finished

Now for some completed salad close-ups. (The marinated artichoke hearts look funny in the pictures, but I sure love them!) I went for a type of Mediterranean flavor today with a few surprise ingredients.

You're done! Bon appetit! Share your impressive salad pictures in the comments below. :D