I love a good salad. Even more so, I love a good, GIANT salad that I don’t have to share because my six-year-old hates veggies. What I don’t love is paying $15 for one. Especially when I’m treatin’ myself to them every day for lunch like a Salad Queen.
Pandemic Me realized pretty early on that I was going to have to find ways to DIY my favorites or I was going to need to start DoorDashing on the side to cover my DoorDash fees.
It’s a good thing it’s insanely easy to make better versions of almost everything in the salad dressing aisle and dupe some of KC’s best salads with stuff you likely have in your pantry. Plus, by making it yourself, you can cut down on single-use waste, swap in better organic ingredients, and control the amount of salt and sugar.
There are some tools I love that make things easier, like this OXO dressing bottle, salad spinner, garlic press, mason jars for prepping, and a giant bowl (some may call this a mixing bowl, but they are wrong). I also love grocery delivery services like Misfit Market and Imperfect Foods. These companies are a huge time saver, help to cut down on food waste and packaging, and have lots of seasonal organic options.
Check out some of my favorite copycat recipes and tips below, and know that all of these are versatile and will work great with whatever you have on hand.
Kansas City’s Best Salads
1. Best Homemade Ranch (You should probably double the recipe):
I know this isn’t officially a Kansas City salad, but I couldn’t make a list of salads and dressings without including the Best Homemade Ranch. I’m not a monster.
If you want bonus points, try making your own mayo to use. Here’s Gordon Ramsay showing how easy it is to make, so easy he doesn’t even have to cuss. And this powdered buttermilk is very handy for those times when you don’t have fresh on hand…which, if you’re like me, is every time.
2. Unforked’s Hail the Kale Salad
3. The Mixx’s Garden of Eden Salad
This salad from The Mixx is so good, I never get tired of it. The main ingredients are mixed greens, gorgonzola crumbles, granny smith apples, and candied pecans (Trader Joe’s sells them). Then toss with this Champagne Vinaigrette.
4. Le Fou Frog’s Chevre Salad
In my pre-kid times, I used to go to Le Fou Frog’s happy hour every week for half-priced champagne, french fries, and their Chevre salads. It was perfectly indulgent and feels like a lifetime away, but if I squint my eyes and block out Encanto in the background, it’s basically like I’m there. Ok, not really, but it is a really good salad.
To recreate the salad, toss some butter lettuce and jarred roasted red peppers with this vinaigrette, and then top with a chuck of Chevre or whatever soft goat cheese you can find. They also add some fig compote on top of the cheese, but you can leave that off or sub in blueberry or raspberry jam instead.
5. Lidia’s Caesar Salad
If only Lidia could be our collective Grandma and invite us to Sunday dinners full of mouthwatering Italian everything. Till then, we can settle for her Caesar salad paired with whatever non-authentic pasta we can make from the pantry.
6. The Russell’s Chimi Dressing
If you haven’t had the chance to try The Russell on Main Street, you should stop everything and go. The whole menu is amazing, but the chimichurri dressing they add to a few different bowls and salads haunts my dreams. It is so delicious and somehow works on every kind of meat and veggie combo, so make a batch and go crazy!
7. Saigon 39 Peanut Sauce (I miss you, Saigon 39)
While, technically not a dressing, it works great on Asian-inspired salads. I love mixing the peanut sauce with cold soba or rice noodles, chopped green onions and carrots, cilantro, and baked tofu.
Life Happens, Save the Veggies
I don’t know about you, but the amateur chef I am wandering the food aisles and ordering food online is NOT the person I am when I have to figure out what to make for lunch and dinner. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. FOREVER. It’s exhausting and usually means the fresh stuff ends up getting tossed.
Here are some tips to save some of those aspirational grocery store buys:
- Zest and juice your lemons and limes. You can save both in the freezer using jars and ice cube trays. Also, check out this amazing trick for used lemons!
- Pre-chop onions and save portions in the freezer. No more half onions slowly dying in the fridge drawer. Or pickle them! It’s quick and easy and they are delicious on salads, sandwiches, and tacos.
- Freeze fresh spinach to add to smoothies and any cooked recipes.
- Here are several ways to save your fresh herbs!
- The TikTok veggie hacks rabbit hole has 1 million tips on how to make food last longer.
Whew, if you made it this far, clearly you are also Salad Royalty, we should start a club. Or would it be a monarchy? Either way, I’d love to know any good ones I missed, so please share your favorites in the comments!