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In the Kitchen: Try a salad for dinner

It’s the new year and most people I know say they’re trying to eat healthier in 2019. 

One of the best things to try to incorporate into your diet are salads. I know. I know. Salad is probably not the first thing to come to your mind when you think about what you want for dinner. I am convinced the reason so many people don’t “crave” salad is simply because they are in a salad rut — boring lettuce, the same old ingredients and low fat or fat free dressing. Get ready for some salad inspiration. 

First things first. A good salad is only as good as its greens. My absolute favorite lettuce and other greens are grown right here in Forsyth County. If you haven’t tried Circle A Lettuce, you are truly missing out. The Circle A team grow all of their produce hydroponically in a giant greenhouse. The lettuce (and everything they sell) is delicious, lasts longer than the store- bought kind, and is super healthy. 

One of my favorite things about this locally owned and operated business, is they deliver right to my door. Just visit the website at and see if they deliver to you. 

They also offer other products and are continuing to add to their online store. You can also visit their store — check out the website for the address and hours. 

If you do purchase lettuce at your grocery store, I highly recommend buying organic varieties. Remember the latest romaine lettuce scare? Yuck. 

The next most important thing for the best salad is the dressing. If you have been buying the pre-made bottled salad dressing, you might want to check the ingredient list. Most use highly processed soy bean or canola oils and most also contain a whole slew of additives and other things you would not keep in your pantry. 

Making homemade dressing is so simple and takes only a minute. Just pour some good quality extra-virgin olive oil and your choice of vinegar into a small jar. Add a little bit of Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper, and shake. Of course, you can add other things to make it even better — minced shallots, minced garlic and fresh herbs are terrific additions. 

As far as the salad itself, include plenty of fresh vegetables for sure, but don’t forget other toppings. 

Boiled eggs, olives, toasted nuts, croutons, dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, cubed ham and/or turkey, rotisserie chicken, grated cheese, edamame, thawed frozen peas, capers, berries, apples, avocado, canned artichoke hearts, canned hearts of palm, roasted or pickled beets, and the list goes on and on. 

Here are a few of my favorite salads that will hopefully inspire you. Here’s to a healthier 2019.

Warm spinach salad with chicken, bacon, mushrooms

3 eggs

6 slices bacon

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or cubed

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 bag or bunch of baby spinach, thoroughly cleaned

3 tablespoons bacon grease

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey (or sugar)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Boil eggs, run under cold water and then peel and slice. Cook bacon until crispy and then remove to a paper towel lined plate. Remove 3 tablespoons bacon grease and set aside. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until almost done, and then add the mushrooms and cook another few minutes. Remove onions and mushrooms to a plate. 

To skillet, add bacon grease, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper and heat over medium heat until hot. Divide spinach into salad bowls. 

Top with cooked chicken, cooked onions and mushrooms and sliced boiled eggs. Pour hot bacon dressing over salads and serve. 

•    •    •

Cobb salad with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing

1 head/bag/bunch of Romaine lettuce, thoroughly cleaned and chopped

2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed

1 avocado, seeded and cubed

1/2 small red onions, thinly sliced

2 green onions, sliced

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves

4 boiled eggs, chopped

8 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

Ranch Dressing (recipe follows)

Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange salad greens on a platter. On top of salad place ingredients in rows — chicken cubes, avocado cubes, red onion slices, green onions, cherry tomatoes, chopped boiled eggs, crumbled bacon. Pour dressing of your choice over the top and toss to combine. 

Ranch dressing

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch salt

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons chives, minced

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream 

Buttermilk to your desired consistency

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon fresh dill (more to taste)

Pinch paprika

Pinch cayenne

Whisk together garlic, salt, parsley, chives, mayonnaise and sour cream. Add buttermilk a little bit at a time until dressing is your desired consistency. If you are using it as a dip, you will want it thicker. Stir in the vinegar, Worcestershire, dill, paprika, and cayenne. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to allow flavors to meld. 

Blue cheese dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons chives, minced

6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, Worcestershire, chives, blue cheese, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let flavors meld.