I used to find salads a chore – so much washing, peeling, and chopping. All that, only to end up with tasteless, watery, food suitable only for hamsters.
But then I discovered Lego salads.
Remember Emmet, from the Lego Movie? When he sings, “Everything is awesome when you’re part of a team,” it hit me: What is salad if not a well-oiled team?
Lego salads are fast food, full of flavor, as well as a storehouse of nutrients your body needs for good health. Win-win. Here’s how to build a Lego salad.
Pick your salad blocks from each of the food types in Vinny’s Lego salad tower. Use glass jars to built your salad in layers. Fill a jar for every day of the week. Make a lot of dressing and pack an individual serving in a small glass bottle, to top your daily creation when you’re ready to eat. Awesome!
Building blocks for Vinny’s Lego salads
- Greens – spinach, romaine, red lettuce, rocket (AKA arugula), mache, kale, watercress
- Crunchy cruciferous veggies – red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, fennel
- Colorful veggies – carrots, beets, radicchio, radishes, tomatoes
- Fruits – berries, grapes, dried cranberries and raisins, apples, mangoes, pears
- Oily foods – avocado, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, ground flaxseed. Crumbly cheese could also fit into this category. Goat’s cheese or blue cheese are favorites with Vinny.
- Starchy carbs – quinoa, barley, wild or brown rice, chia seeds, pumpkin
- Lean protein – if you haven’t added grains or cheese with decent amounts of proteins to your plate, beef up the protein with a little chicken, tuna, shrimp, salmon, egg or sardines. These ingredients should be added on the day you eat your salad.
- Vinaigrettes made from oil and vinegar, plus flavorings – see my last post for the basics.
To make preparing salads easy, get set!
Prepping your veg
Buy your salad ingredients fresh. When you get them home do some prep work.
- Greens – Wash them in lots of cold water. A salad spinner is a nice tool. Spin them dry then lay them out flat on a clean towel. Roll them up and store them in the cooler in the fridge. They last about a week this way.
- Shred your cabbage. I use a mandolin. A food processor is also useful, or you can get along with some well-practiced knife skills. Store the chopped veggies in a plastic bag in the cooler drawer of the fridge.
- Wash your berries. They won’t keep long, so I buy them in fairly small quantities, wash them, and eat them up in a day or two.
- Starchy carbs – Boil up a cup or two and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Root veggies – cut the green tops off carrots, radishes and beets. Wash the soil off the roots and let them dry on the counter before storing them in the fridge. wash the greens if you plan to use them.
- Vinaigrette – Make up one or two different types and store in containers in the fridge.
Building your salad towers
Build a Lego salad tower, with a little of this or that, and save just the right block for the top. I like to add lean protein last, on the day I’m planning to eat the salad.
- Find some large clean glass jars with lids that seal well. Sealers will do, or large jars with screw tops that pickles or soup come in. Then fill them up!
- Lay down some greens. Add a layer of veggies, then a carb layer, then some fruit for sweetness.
- Top with nuts or seeds, avocado or cheese from the oily food list.
- Save room to add the lean protein last.
- Make them all the same, or make each one different, mixing and matching from your storehouse of great ingredients.
At lunch time over the next week, pour the salad from one of your jars onto a wide plate. Add the dressing and toss. And in a minute, you’ve got a lunch full of crunch, sweet and sour bite, creamy tastiness and good health.
A few salad combinations that Vinny loves
Lego salad day 1: Strawberry Spinach Salad
- 1 pound spinach, washed, spun dry and coarsely chopped (4 or 5 ounces a person for a main-dish salad)
- 1 pint (8 ounces) strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons (or more) sliced sweet onion
- a sprinkling of chopped pistachios
- Sweet and sour dressing from Vinny’s previous post
Day 2: That same Lego salad, topped with a poached egg
Day 3: Our third jar of Lego salad, topped with goats cheese and dressed with beet vinaigrette from Vinny’s previous post
Anyone can make delicious salads using building blocks stacked Lego style. Come and play!
- Vinny Grette’s best vinaigrettes – Learn the basics to making a great salad dressing. The ABCs plus some recipes.
- Lady Pomegranate swings her partners – Some great salad recipes featuring kale and of course pomegranate.
- Walnuts raw develop the jaw – Best salad idea ever: a crunchy leafless party salad with walnuts, broccoli cauliflower and cranberries, plus an amazing easy nutty vinaigrette.