As soon as the sun starts to shine and weather begins to warm up its time to say goodbye to cooked dinners and hello to lovely fresh tasty salads! A salad is such a great light meal for the summer months and it is so versatile you can literally add in anything you want. It is also a very easy way to pack in lots of different colours, tastes and textures and more importantly lots of different nutrients! For some people, the idea of a salad is not very exciting at all, they think of salad as a few lettuce leaves, cucumber and tomato maybe. But what we are talking about here is so much more….Salads bursting with lots of different ingredients, amazing colours, tastes, textures and combinations! Salads are so handy to make too, a scrumptious meal can be prepared in just minutes. The perfect accompaniment to just about anything, or as a whole meal in itself, read on for our favourite salad ingredients and combinations and some info on salad dressing to finish off your creation to perfection!
Spinach makes the perfect base for a salad instead of your normal lettuce. Packed full of vitamins and minerals this salad is going to pack a serious punch nutritionally! A very simple mix of finely chopped bacon and hard-boiled egg is so tasty with a simple french dressing, kind of like a cooked breakfast salad, so tasty! Or a nice mix of cooked cubes of butternut squash, nuts & goats cheese also works great with spinach. One good tip, don’t add in your dressing until you are ready to eat as your spinach will wilt if its dressed too soon.
Kale is such a versatile ingredient. Many people are not too keen on it, and only ever try it cooked. But finely chopped, kale makes a really great base for a salad and so nutrient dense it is going to make for a really healthy meal. A good tip is to leave the stalks on for some extra crunch, just be sure to chop well. Add grated raw beetroot & apple to finely chopped kale for an unbelievably tasty and juicy fresh salad. The kale kind of soaks up all the juices and all the ingredients grab on to it. You could add pomegranate seeds and some toasted seeds for some extra crunch too, so tasty! Dessicated coconut or toasted flaked almonds work really well with kale too!
Make a meal out of your salad by using quinoa, rice or pasta as your base. Quinoa works great with anything really, try berries, mint and an apricot dressing for a lovely fruity combo or throw in some cooked cubes of butternut squash, avocado and feta, the quinoa will cling to them, so tasty. A good tip too is to use a tricolour quinoa if you can get it, looks so pretty in a salad bowl J Using rice is great too, a favourite of ours is curried rice, which goes down great with smallies too. Adding curry powder into the water when you are cooking the rice works great, add plenty of colourful peppers and veg and then add more curry to your dressing later to really strengthen the flavour.
Salad veg doesn’t have to mean just lettuce, tomato, cucumber, any veg at all can be used in a salad. Try grating for a change to bring out the juices; beetroot, carrot, courgette. Add cubes of cooked squash or sweet potato to make it a bit more filling. Shred cabbage, celeriac, lettuces for slaws. Raw broccoli makes a great base for a salad, add toasted hazelnuts, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and a nice pesto dressing for a fab taste explosion! Add avocado wherever possible for a great source of good fat.
Salads don’t have to be limited to just veg either, fruit makes a great addition to summer salads, orange segments, berries, apple and grapes work really well. And of course fruit salad itself is a classic summer dessert. Try adding plenty of fresh mint and nuts like pistachios for a bit of crunch and add a squeeze of lime for a bit of a kick and a squeeze of honey to bring the whole lot together
Nuts & Seeds
Throw in nuts and seeds in wherever you can. They are great for adding both crunch and flavour and are also a great source of protein. A good tip is to toast them first to bring out the full flavour and if you add a little coconut oil and salt and pepper when toasting they are extra delish!
Herbs & Spices
Don’t be afraid to throw in lots of fresh herbs and spices to your salads. Parsley, coriander, mint, chilli, tumeric, paprika, any ones at all. All are going to boost the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of your salad
The general rule of thumb with salad dressing is 3 parts good quality olive oil to 1 part vinegar of your choice. You can play around with the tastes of different vinegars. Season a little and add some herbs, maybe garlic, a dash of shoyu or tamari and a little squeeze of honey will make a lovely dressing that will pull the whole salad together. For a creamier dressing add a little probiotic natural yogurt. You can even puree a little fruit, like dried apricot works well, to make a sweeter more fruity dressing. Experiment and try out different tastes!
Make a meal of it
Add some good quality protein on top of your salad to transform it into a complete meal. Eggs, meat, fish, whatever you choose, salad works well with any of these!
Top tool – A mandolin slicer is the handiest gadget to have in your kitchen when it comes to making salads, they making slicing so quick and easy and will have you preparing meals in half the time! These are available very reasonable in most kitchen shops or online