The Parisian Way To Jazz Up Your Salad For A Dinner That Truly Satisfies

We all want to be eating more salad for dinners, and while there are plenty of ingredients to elevate salad, sometimes even the freshest homemade versions fall flat. You can make homemade dressing, or toss on chicken or a hard-boiled egg, but you still end up powering your way through your meal out of obligation instead of excitement. There might not be anything inherently wrong with your recipe, things sometimes just get boring, and even changing toppings won't do the trick. That's when you need to look at the French and mix up your standard greens with options that are more flavorful and robust.

Look at recipes for classic French salads, or on the menu at a Parisian café, and you won't just find spinach and romaine. French cooking is famously seasonal, and they embrace the full range of greens and cabbages for salads with much more flavor and character. That means plates filled with endive, radicchio, dandelion greens, and frisée. These veggies have more bitter and assertive flavors than your normal bag of iceberg, and they can be just as crunchy and textural. Basing a salad around one of these is a surefire way to create something that's more interesting and satisfying as a full meal. And that move beyond your standard salad greens extends to embracing fresh herbs as well. By mixing up the fresh flavors you are building your dinner around, you unlock the salad's full potential.

Experiment with less common ingredients

All the greens and lettuce out there can be a little overwhelming. A good place to start is endive, radicchio, or escarole, which are plants from the chicory family. Endive is the basis for the aptly named French endive salad, which combines it with cheese, pears, and walnuts. Endive and radicchio are crunchy, bright, and bitter, and they have enough flavor on their own that they can even stand up to being cooked or grilled. Instead of drowning under the tastes of salad dressings and other ingredients like milder greens, they'll elevate everything by adding their own notes.

If you aren't sure how to make it work in a salad you also don't need to go all the way with it either. Adding some chopped radicchio along with your spinach in an existing recipe is a great way to add extra crunch and flavor without needing to fully commit to an unfamiliar ingredient.

Then there are robust green leaves like mustard and dandelion. These are hearty plants full of flavor that can be treated much like kale or Swiss chard. Paired with strong savory toppings, they can make a filling and unique salad. French chef Jacques Pépin liked to use fresh dandelion greens as the basis for a salad with a mustard vinaigrette, eggs, and bacon. Step outside of your comfort zone with greens, and you'll never get bored of your dinner salads again.