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.
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. The salad above has steamed kabocha squash, raw shaved carrots, pickled fennel in turmeric, puffed kasha, carrot romesco, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon and flaky salt. 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
“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. This pink salad contains pink grapefruit, lobster, hearts of palm, shallots and champagne vinaigrette.
Use a large platter, not a bowl
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.
Want to recreate this green salad? It has shaved raw artichoke, celery, lime supremes, pistachio, Parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon and flaky salt.
Don’t be afraid to change the recipe
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.”
Always have quality olive oil on hand
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.
For this vibrant, white-themed said you’ll need to combine Asian pear, radish, cooked rye berries mixed in Greek yogurt, poached chicken, sesame seeds and citronette.
This article originally appeared on Domino.