The best salads are those that have toppings with a mix of textures—crisp, soft, crunchy, colorful, salty, or sweet. At the same time, consumers are learning that the more toppings on a salad, the more calories it packs. The good news is that you don’t need to stick with a bland salad. Certain toppings can be both a great source of nutrition and incredibly delicious. Here are a few helpful examples of toppings with great texture for guests who want the “skinny menu.”
1. Gluten-Free Roasted Chickpeas
People love chickpeas because they are an easy way to get in a good amount of protein and fiber. One serving of chickpeas (1/2 cup) yields 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, with no fat or sugar. And when you roast them in olive oil, you get a crispy, crunchy, salty, and healthy bite that makes a perfect salad topping.
2. Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad Topping
We love salads with a mix of textures: cold, crisp, soft, and crunchy. Croutons are wonderful, but they don’t add much nutrition, even if they are whole wheat and baked. Sweet potatoes are delicious and are also loaded with antioxidants, which we all need more of in our diets. They make a crispy, sweet, nutritious, and unexpected topping for a salad. Just cut the sweet potatoes thinly on a mandolin fitted with the crinkle blade. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes. Sweet potatoes become crispier as they cool.
3. Pickled Red Onions
How beautiful are these? A sweet and salty vinegar brine, peppercorns, and a few spices are really all you need to turn sliced red onions into crave-worthy pickles. Even for guests who aren’t fans of raw onions, these tender, sweet-and-tart pickles might be just their speed. Besides being an amazing topping on salad, they are great on sandwiches, burgers, sliders, pitas, and tacos, or cooked in omelets and other egg dishes. Really, you can add them to pretty much any savory dish for a pickled burst of flavor. And of course, they develop a delicious purplish pink color as time passes.
4. Pomegranate Seeds
Tossing fresh pomegranate seeds on a salad is a brilliantly colorful, crunchy, and nutritious addition. We suggest this topping for a jicama, avocado, cucumber, and mango quinoa salad, or a pear, red onion, gorgonzola, pecans, and spinach salad. The pomegranate is one of the oldest known fruits, and yet it is seeing a recent surge in popularity due to new discoveries about its nutritional value.