Often when people think of salad, they think of soggy, limp lettuce leaves, unctuous salad dressing and something wholly unsatisfying. However, salad doesn’t have to be a lifeless pile of leaves covered in greasy dressing; in fact salad can be as fulfilling as it is nourishing. In this blog post, I want to share a few tips on making a tasty, nourishing and completely satisfying salad.
A green foundation
With so many lettuce varieties now available, we really are spoilt for choice. However, stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to leafy greens can often be rewarding. Rather than sticking to the same old ice-berg or cos lettuce, try mixing in some darker leafy greens such as baby spinach, silverbeet or kale. Not only are these dark leafy greens full of iron and nutrients such as folate, they add depth, flavour and colour to your salad.
Add interest and texture to your salad with something crunchy. This could include nuts (almonds, cashews, pine nuts, brazil nuts), seeds (sunflower, chia or pumpkin seeds), toasted grains (rice, quinoa, oats), or fresh vegetables (snow peas, broccoli florets, celery or cucumber).
Add some colour
If you have more colours in your salad bowl, you’ll feel like you’re eating more. For a vibrant array, try combining bright, contrasting vegetables such as shredded purple cabbage and julienned carrot. For a deep autumnal, earthy feel, add some roasted beetroot and pumpkin. Rather than just adding one colour capsicum, use a combination of red, green and yellow.
Include zing with fermented foods
Fermented foods kill two birds with one stone; they’re amazing for gut health and they’re a great flavour element. Some fermented foods to include in your salad are tempeh (high in protein and fiber), kimchi (adds some kick with spice) or sauerkraut.
Add some protein
For a salad to be satisfying, we want it to be filling, and protein-rich foods are the perfect candidate. Add protein in the form of shredded cooked meat (chicken, beef or pork), eggs, tofu, tempeh, cheese, legumes or fish (tuna or salmon).
Bulk it up with left overs
Mixing in left overs such as grains (quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal pasta), vegetables or meat not only increases the density of your salad, but also assists in eliminating food waste.
Be smart about how you dress it
While creamy dressings are delicious, try mixing it up with vinaigrette based dressings to further boost the nutritional content of your salad. These are so easy to make at home that you really needn’t buy them from the shops.
To build a vinaigrette dressing, mix together your favourite vinegar, oil, lemon or lime juice, and any herbs or spices you like. For the oils, try to focus on oils rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as avocado or cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
I hope that these steps inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new the next time you’re building a salad.