Anyone can throw together a bunch of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, but what makes you shell out 10 bucks at a restaurant for a salad. Its good for starters, it has fresh ingredients, different textures and it usually is visually appealing.
The dressing is also the key. You can find some good GF dressings - I like San-J Tamari Ginger for when I do an asian salad, Annie's has a few good ones and Ken's Steakhouse is our go to for Ranch and Blue Cheese. A lot of times I make my own vinaigrette - its easy with oil and vinegar. You can add salt and pepper or any other spice you want like oregano, fresh tarragon or parsley. Adding some citrus like lemon juice or a bit of orange juice adds flare as well as a bit of mustard so experiment.
1. Ceasar Salad. This one always sounds hard but it isn't and there is no way a store bought ceasar dressing is any good.
You'll need: lettuce, anchovy paste, garlic, lemon, greek yogurt, Worcestershire (I use Lea & Perrins - its GF), fresh pepper, dijon mustard, fresh parmesan cheese and a bowl.
To make it really fancy put the plates in the freezer to chill them. Wash the lettuce - use romaine. I also make and keep some GF croutons in the house. We don't keep a can of anchovies around but I keep a tube in the refrigerator. Squeeze a bit of the anchovy paste into a bowl, a clove of garlic, some fresh ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of worcestershire and 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard. Mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a nice paste. Next add a spoonful of yogurt, yes yogurt (I use Chobani greek yogurt), instead of a raw egg. Then 3 Tablespoons of EVOO - keep mixing. Add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon. Add the lettuce and toss until evenly coated. Throw on a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese, add the GF croutons and serve on your chilled plates.
2. Cobb Salad
You can find this on the Williams-Sonoma website but I'll lay it out here. You can obviously throw some eggs, bacon and tomatoes on some lettuce and add dressing, but the time spent making this salad is worth the effort.
The dressing: whisk together 1/4 Cup red wine vinegar, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mash in 1 oz. Roquefort cheese until it is like a paste, the whisk in 1/3 EVOO to form the dressing.
Make a bed of lettuce, add eggs, bacon, avocado, turkey or chicken (i've added canned tuna or salmon), cheese (Roquefort, I've usually made it in a pinch and have a tub of Trader Joe's gorgonzola that I substitute) and tomatoes. You can add parsley, chives, and watercress but I usually only have and add the parsley.
Pour over the dressing and sit back and enjoy.