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This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Domino, titled “Primary Palate.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue!

As warmer weather approaches, we’ve started to crave healthier and lighter meals—so it’s time to re-think our approach to the humble salad. A simple lunch stape and often formulaic side, there’s no reason your spring salad has to be boring. Quite the contrary: We enlisted chef and food stylist Camille Becerra to elevate the dish from ordinary to extraordinary. Her solution to lunch fatigue? Choose monochromatic ingredients.

Ahead, Becerra reimagines the salad in five vivid monochromatic shades. Though they might look decadent and impressive, they’re brimming with healthy, easy-to-source seasonal ingredients. Whether prepping for a springtime soirée or looking to upgrade your desk lunch, you’ll want to add these monochrome salads to your repertoire, stat.

Choose a color palette

Steamed kabocha squash, raw shaved carrots, pickled fennel in turmeric, puffed kasha, carrot romesco, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, flaky salt Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Salads don’t have to be full of plain vegetables; as a matter of fact, they don’t even need lettuce. Get creative by compiling veggies and toppings in radiant colors like orange and red. As with any dish reliant on fresh ingredients, the key factor in these salads is seasonality. For example, if you want to incorporate springtime ingredients, Becerra recommends a pink palette. Use pink grapefruit, watermelon radish, red radish, and cara cara oranges to pack a vibrant punch. Already thinking ahead to summer salads? Becerra says yellows and purples are the way to go. Pick up corn and chicory to jumpstart your rainbow-hued salads.  

Start with one ingredient

Pink chicories, pink grapefruit, lobster, hearts of palm, shallots, champagne vinaigrette Photo by Marcus Nilsson

“If you’re going to the market and you’re walking into a lot of different ingredients, it’s good to start with one in mind,” says Becerra. If you want to create a completely green salad, for example, start with something like asparagus, and hunt around for other produce that pertains to the fresh color palette. Becerra is a fan of adding peas and fava beans.   

Use a large platter, not a bowl

Shaved raw artichoke, celery, lime supremes, pistachio, Parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, flaky salt Photo by Marcus Nilsson

The backdrop matters: When a salad is on a large platter, it tends to live better and longer. According to Becerra, if you toss everything into a bowl, all the dressing goes to the bottom and gets weighed down. Instead, opt for a stylish serving dish to keep your salad fresh.

Don’t be afraid to change the recipe

Escarole, hijiki, spirulina dust, nori sheets, black sesame salt, miso honey dressing
Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Sometimes even a chef-approved recipe could use a little something extra. “It’s hyper important to always make a salad, take a bite with all the ingredients, then reevaluate,” says Becerra. “Maybe it needs more salt, or maybe it needs some cheese, or maybe it needs a nut. It’s always good to taste it and then just go back to it.”

For instance, Becerra’s first go at a completely pink salad wasn’t the final product—it needed a note of something savory. She added sliced shallots to add another dimension of flavor. In her white salad, she tweaked it a bit by adding a final topping of sesame seeds for some crunch.  

Always have quality olive oil on hand

Asian pear, radish, cooked rye berries mixed in Greek yogurt, poached chicken, sesame seeds, citronette Photo by Marcus Nilsson

You could be attempting to create the worlds most elaborate Nicoise salad or tossing together various items in your fridge so that no perishables go bad. Whatever the case may be there are no excuses. “The number one top ingredient is a really good olive oil,” says Becerra of her secret weapon.

See more meal ideas:

13 Spring Salad Recipes That Don’t Taste Like You’re on a Detox

4 Ingredients a Food Network Star Always Has on Hand (and How to Maximize Them)

Follow These 10 Chefs on Instagram and You’ll Never Run Out of Recipe Ideas

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