Salad Basics – How to build a salad that tastes good

It’s time to revamp your boring salad!

Salads can be the most boring dish ever that no one wants to eat; or a delicious blend of your favourite flavours. It’s all down to deciding to make it a little bit more interesting. We are in Winter here so if I have forgotten some wonderful vegetables from other seasons across the globe, my apologies.

When it comes to making a tasty salad the point is, GET CREATIVE!

Often you can make a very tasty salad out of what is left-over in the fridge; but with a little forethought and buying new salad vegetables on your weekly shop, you can start to create fast tasty vegetable dishes that are filled with colour and nutrition.

Caution: it doesn’t take much to turn a healthy salad into a calorie bomb – watch how many add-on’s you add, be sensible about portions, and mindful about dressings and dips!

The basics:

  • Any green / purple salad leaves, the darker the better: for example; rocket, spinach, lettuce, chard, dandelion greens, Chinese lettuce, watercress, and any of the multitude of coloured leaves available.
  • The cruciferous power players: red cabbage, purple cabbage, green cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
  • Chopped vegetable selection: tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, corn, onions, scallions, baby beans, snap peas, baby corn, etc.
  • Power herbs: basil, coriander, parsley, chives, etc.

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The twists:

  • Grated or spiralled vegetables such as carrot, beets, celeriac, cucumber, courgette, jicama, etc.
  • Roasted or grilled vegetables: peppers, aubergine, large capped mushrooms, onions, courgettes, fennel, etc.
  • Fruit: grapes, sliced apple, citrus fruits, pomegranate, etc.
  • Dried fruit: raisins, sultanas, goji berries, chopped prunes, or cranberries
  • Pickled or preserved vegetables e.g. olives, sundried tomatoes, gherkins, etc.
  • Hot stuff: grated ginger, turmeric, chili, garlic
  • Dried beans like chickpeas and soya beans or sweet chestnuts can give a crouton like effect

 

The toppings

Adding some fats to your salad will improve the absorption of fat soluble antioxidants in your vegetables and also fulfil your appetite. Consider adding one of two of the following:

  • Avocado
  • Fresh or toasted nuts and seeds
  • Sliced or grated cheese

The fuel:

Adding some grains or lentils or root vegetables to your salad will meet the needs of exercise and high activity demands: NB cooked!

  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Squash
  • Brown, red or wild rice
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Beans and pulses
  • Lentils – Puy or speckled green hold together better
  • Cooked or defrosted soya/ edamame beans

The protein:

This can be mixed in or served on the side:

  • Sliced or diced chicken or turkey
  • Canned tuna, mackerel or salmon
  • Smoked salmon/ mackerel/ trout
  • Sliced or diced ham
  • Beans and lentils (provide protein and carbohydrates)
  • Hummus or cottage cheese
  • Poached, boiled, fried egg
  • Grilled sliced bacon
  • Grilled black pudding
  • Diced lamb, beef, pork etc

The dressing:

  • Home-made oil and vinegar dressing (e.g. olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey)
  • Balsamic vinegar / syrup or flavoured vinegars
  • Pesto
  • Mayo+yogurt dressing (e.g. mayonnaise, greek yogurt, Dijon mustard/ wasabi mustard, dash of milk or honey as needed)
  • Coconut milk dressing
  • Hummus or tahini dressing

Mix it all together in a nice big bowl, make extra for your lunch.

Enjoy!

Here’s a salad I prepared earlier from kale, cabbage, broccoli, radish, grapes, grilled peppers, grilled mushrooms, sultanas, dates, mixed seeds and home-made dressing. I served this with an egg and a tiny pancake made from left-over short grain brown rice. 

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