First off, I want to say thanks so much to Emwills Eleven and Walk In The Sunlight for nominating me for the Liebster Award and the Versatile Blog Award respectively. You both have beautiful blogs and it’s so great to know you like mine. I haven’t had chance to answer the questions/find others to nominate so that will have to wait for another time, but just wanted to give you a mention.
Now, salad. Poor salad has such a bad rep. The very word tends to conjure up images of a sad pile of soggy lettuce leaves, a few chunks of tomato or cucumber, perhaps a dodgy dressing, and very little else. For a lot of people that’s what their experience of salad has always been. But in fact, salad can be so, so much more than that; a good, fresh, filling salad, stuffed full of flavour and goodness and drizzled in a zingy dressing, is very very hard to beat. It’s also incredibly simple. With a few simple steps, anyone can have lunch on the table in 5-10 minutes.
1. Pick your leaves.From lettuce to rocket to watercress to cabbage to spinach to kale, there are unlimited options when it comes to the first layer — the base, if you like — of a good salad bowl. Lettuce is the easiest on the palate for those who are not yet convinced by salads, and it’s sweet crunchiness makes it my personal favourite too.
2. Pick your wholegrains. This is optional; I don’t always put grains in my salad, but if you’re looking for a heartier meal they’re a great addition as they really will fill you up. You can pretty much use anything – wholewheat pasta, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa (the latter two are my favourites).
3. Pick your veggies. Ideally, vegetables should be the bulk of your salad. The tip here is to choose the most flavoursome veggies; I like using roasted vegetables a lot of the time (you can bulk roast and store in containers in the fridge for several days!) because I think the added crunch and flavour really adds something to a salad. I’m a big fan of eating seasonally so at the moment I’m enjoying roasted salted parsnip, cauliflower, sprouts and sweet potato in my salads; in the summer roasted peppers and aubergines are delicious. Other flavoursome options are sun-dried tomatoes, pitted olives, and caramelised or roasted onions. Don’t forget you can also use fruit — chopped apple or pear is gorgeous with chunks of beetroot, walnuts and goats’ cheese, for example, and in summer I love adding sliced strawberries to salads.
4. Pick your protein. This is important to make sure the salad is really filling and wholesome. I’m a vegetarian, but I know a lot of people enjoy adding grilled chicken or tuna. Crumbled feta or goat’s cheese adds a lot of flavour and creaminess, and sliced boiled eggs, lentils, beans, hummus, nuts and seeds are all great vegetarian sources of protein (not to mention vitamins, minerals and healthy fats).
5. Add fresh herbs. Honestly, you need them in your life. Fresh coriander, basil, parsley, mint, dill etc. just add so much flavour to everything they touch. Get them in there.
6. Make a great dressing. This is what makes the salad, and it really is a question of personal taste. I absolutely adore sharp, tangy dressings with lots of vinegar and lashings of dijon mustard, but some people find that much to strong (my Dad has likened it to paint stripper). The trick is to play around! Create a simple base using extra-virgin olive oil and a vinegar of choice (apple cider, red wine, white wine, balsamic…) or lemon juice. A generally accepted ratio is 3:1, so three tbsps of oil to one of vinegar; I more often have a ratio of 1:2 but that’s me! From there you can add honey or mustard or salt or pepper…the choice really is yours. After some experimentation you’ll work out what you like and which flavours work well together.
7. Mix it all up! Get everything coated in that delicious dressing, mix it all up so everything’s evenly incorporated all throughout, and tip it all into a big bowl.
My favourite combinations:
- Greek. Cherry or sundried tomatoes, olives, feta, avocado.
- Waldorf. Celery, raisins, apples, cabbage, walnuts.
- Winter. Cranberries, pecans, kale, pears, beetroot, goat’s cheese.
- Middle-Eastern. Lentils, chickpeas, aubergine, lemon juice, parsley, coriander.
- Spring. Carrots, radishes, spring greens, potatoes.
- Asian. Sesame seeds, peanuts, soba noodles, shredded cabbage, carrot & soy beans.