I had big plans of doing a series of photos capturing all the salads we've been eating with our meals lately and demonstrating the significance of color in salad appeal. Sadly, my camera was left - along with a chunk of my heart (2 terribly adorable little girls) - at a dear friend's house in Seattle. So please bear with me.
It is difficult to rouse oneself to want to eat dinner when it LOOKS bland on the plate. I have several tricks for this. One, is RED plates, gloriously deep, yet bright, red plates. If I know a meal is going to lack a little color, I pull out the red plates (our larger set of plates are a simple, modern grey).
My second trick, is to almost always include a side salad. It doesn't have to be a boring lettuce-carrot-onion salad, it doesn't even have to have lettuce (I suggest finely chopped parsley or cilantro for a little kick). It does, however have to have several different colors shapes and textures to entice the eye, and then satisfy the tongue.
This may go without saying, but varying the presentation of the salad (even the "boring" one), can have tremendous effect. For example, thinly cut carrot "sticks" one night, rounds the next, triangles the following, and another favorite presentation trick of mine: strips of peeled carrot. I like the last option additionally because it is so easy. Peel the outer skin into the compost bucket, and then peel, peel, peel the rest onto the salad. I also vary the lettuce presentation: torn, chopped, shredded.
I like to throw unexpected items into our nightly salads. This is usually an impromptu affair to help use up whatever we might have on hand. Diced cherries, thinly sliced, or cubed apples or pears, raisins, nuts, leftover steamed veggies or cubed leftover baked potatoes. The salad is my nightly creative endeavor. Do you have a favorite unexpected salad addition? Please share!
Lastly, though not a help with color (and remember, various colors mean various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients), I also vary the dressing. Of course the basic, olive oil, flax seed oil, lemon, salt and pepper remain, but there are 9 different vinegars in my cupboards, various mustards, fresh fruits, cayenne or oregano or basil or thyme - you get the idea. I do prefer vinaigrettes however, not only for their taste, but also their simplicity. I keep empty spice jars, pour in the ingredients, shake it up, pour it on and toss. Done. A little added elegance and appeal to the meal.
I know there is something to the visual appeal of a salad because my nearly 3-year-old, who for the most part will not eat a salad, always insists that I put some on his plate (he will pick stuff out, but all that raw veggie goodness is hard to chew for kids without all their molars. Also, kids have a hard time converting beta carotene into vitamin A. Butter is a better source for easily assimilated vitamin A) . He won't start unless it looks right (and, of course, he wants his plate to look like ours).
For lack of photos to convince, I have used a plethora of words. I hope it has worked and that you feel inspired to get creative with your salads. I want a report back!