How to build a family salad – The formula salad


I present to you the formula salad! And my step by step process on how to build a family salad, fully customized to your and your kids’ liking! Simple, yet delicious. Perfect for a quick dinner for the whole family to enjoy. If you want to know my take on the spring salad then keep reading. Also, I’m sharing my top 3 tips on how to offer this salad to your toddlers.

The formula

  • Leafy greens. You can choose any leafy green vegetable that you like, kale, spinach, arugula, rocket, lettuce, etc. Or any combination of those. Personally I prefer the baby version as they are more tender but of course you can use the regular kind.
  • Other Vegetables. This is where you can let your instinct lead you. Also you can let your kids pick, which is usually a great activity when you go to the market. Ask them to bring to you three vegetables of different color. This way you will make sure that you get a variety of textures and nutrients in your diet. You know how much we love to eat the rainbow right?
  • Legumes. To add a good amount of protein in your salad, you should add any legume of your preference. Green lentils, white beans, red beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, etc. I simply wash under runny water and soak overnight. Then I boil until fork tender.
  • Grains. For some good and much needs carbs you should add any grain of your liking. Bulgur wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, brown rice etc.
  • Nuts-seeds. To add some good Omega 3 fatty acids, you should add any nuts and seeds that you like. To maximize the nutrition you can add a combination of nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hemp seeds, cracked flax seeds, poppy seeds etc.
  • Herbs. I love to add herbs in my salads as they add freshness and extra flavor. Great examples are mint, basil, cilantro etc
  • Dressing. A salad is not complete without a good dressing. On my free e-book “The colorful Plate” you will find a lot of dressing recipes.
  • (Optional) Cheese. This is optional as you may want to keep your salad dairy-free. You can use any cheese of your liking. Feta cheese, goat cheese and cheddar work great on salads.

The Spring Salad

The veggies: In the spring’s version of this salad I wanted to include all the delicious and vibrant in-season vegetables. So I decided to add fresh baby spinach, tender asparagus stems and sugar peas. For the asparagus and sugar peas, I just boiled it for 3-4 min until fork tender. If you want to know how to prepare the asparagus you should check out the equivalent section on my asparagus savory cake recipe. I also added cherry tomatoes and cucumbers for some color and crunch.

Legumes and grains: I used white beans (great northern beans to be exact) which I soaked overnight and boiled until fork tender. For the grain on this salad I used one of our favorite grains in this family, quinoa. If you want to know how to properly prepare quinoa check out my quinoa cookies recipe.

Seeds and Herbs: I used a combination of hemp seeds, chia seeds and poppy seeds and they blended perfectly with the quinoa. Also for herbs I added Panos’ favorite herb, mint, along with cilantro for a little spicy kick.

I didn’t use any cheese for the spring version of this salad as I feel that all the flavors complimented perfectly with each other. But you can’t skip the dressing. I used my go to citrus olive oil dressing which goes well with the most of the salads and here is the recipe.

3 tips on how to serve to your toddler

  1. Let them pour the salad dressing. Yes this can make all the difference! Kids love to get involved and have the power of preparing their food.
  2. Thinly chop the leafy greens of the salad so it is easier for the to eat
  3. Add a fun element! In today’s salad the fun element is the popped sugar peas. Both my young toddler and my older toddler absolutely loved those and this was the reason that they started eating the salad.

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How to store

You can prepare all the elements of the salad for the day before and then add the dressing 5 min before you serve it. This way your salad will not get soggy. Always store in your fridge in an air tight container.

For more salad inspiration

Want more tips?

For more tips and tricks on how to teach your kids to love salads you should subscribe to my email list and download my free e-book “The Colorful Plate” where we discuss in details about salads.

The formula salad

Recipe by Panos EatsCourse: SaladsDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 cups green leafy vegetable

  • 4 cups other vegetables

  • 1½ cup boiled beans

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • ¼ cup herbs

  • ¼ cup seeds/nuts

  • Dressing

  • (Optional) ¼ cup cheese


  • Just mix all the ingredients together and you have a great family salad to enjoy

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