Take A Savory, Comfort Food Approach To Create More Appealing Salads

Having shed their stigma as boring and unsatisfying "rabbit food," salads have garnered well-deserved popularity and appreciation in recent years. Their versatility and adaptability to any customization have won us over. While we would often take a comforting bowl of macaroni and cheese or a slice of pizza over even the most elaborate salad, you can have the best of both worlds by turning your favorite comfort foods into salads.

Comfort foods are heavy, filling, hot, and abundant in fat, carbohydrates, and often protein, which may sound like the antithesis of a simple green salad. However, you can deconstruct any comfort food, redistributing its various ingredients into bowl with raw and cooked vegetables, using its flavor profile to inspire the seasonings in salad dressing or roasted vegetable marinades. To uphold the filling, hearty appeal of comfort foods, you can use cooked vegetables, hearty winter greens, and cream- or mayonnaise-based salad dressings.

While there's a basic formula to build a balanced salad, the ingredients are entirely up to your culinary whimsy. So integrating cozy ingredients provides a creative and clever road map to plan a week of delicious, flavorful salads. Since comfort foods encompass a broad range of recipes, you'll have plenty of fodder for salad ingredients and dressing combinations.

Comfort food salad ideas

If it's hard to reimagine comfort foods as a veggie-packed salad, you can start with comfort foods that already contain raw or cooked vegetables. For example, burgers typically come topped with raw or pickled veggies. You could invert the proportions of toppings to meat, building a burger salad over shredded iceberg lettuce with diced tomatoes, onions, pickles, shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled hamburger meat, and chopped bacon. Thousand island dressing makes the perfect condiment-inspired pairing. Finish it with a sprinkle of crushed potato chips to invoke french fries.

You could deconstruct spinach artichoke dip into a spinach salad with jarred marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, shaved parmesan cheese, and an herby sour cream and cream cheese-based dressing. For a twist on chicken pot pie, you could create a carrot, snap pea, celery, and romaine foundation for shredded rotisserie chicken and pie-crust croutons, to smother in a rich and creamy buttermilk dressing. Pizza is the ultimate comfort food, and often uses salad or greens as a topping. You could transpose it into a pizza salad, using garlicky croutons and ricotta salata instead of the white pizza base. 

A well-known comfort food-inspired salad is taco salad. Iterations use shredded chicken, fajita steak, shrimp, or tofu crumbles flavored with taco seasoning over a bed of lettuce and shredded red cabbage, with pico de gallo, roasted corn, tortilla strips, pickled jalapeños, and avocado with a creamy jalapeño ranch or cilantro vinaigrette.