Say hello to fresh salads, full of flavour and nutrient boosting ingredients! Here are my five steps to creating a sensational summer salad.
Salads often are shooed away from home kitchens, with people’s reluctance to create a salad as a stand-alone meal at an all time high due to fear of rejection by other family members.
They’re typically bullied off the menu at cafes and restaurants too, when orders for wholesome salads more often that not accompany an air of persecution and judgment. ‘Is that all you’re having? You can’t just eat a salad!’
But salads (like my over-the-rainbow-salad pictured above) are a whole lot more than a couple of iceberg lettuce leaves and dash of dressing. They’re often the star of many of my homemade meals, and I encourage them by placing them slap bang in the middle of the dining table, centre stage with the spotlight shining directly upon them and leaving other well known sides to drift backstage.
This month I’m sharing with you my ‘five key steps’ to creating your own summer salads that will help you to develop your own creations with simple ingredients that you already have hanging around in your crisper drawer and pantry.
In a nutshell, salads are about being creative and experimenting with new leaves, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, and more importantly they’re about making the most of what you already have available at your fingertips.
Follow my five steps this salad season and you’ll be surprised how delicious, nutritious and filling your creations will be.
1. Choose a base:
The base is the filler ingredient that adds bulk to your salad and is what the additions in steps 2-5 bind to. Mixed leafy greens, baby spinach, kale or rocket are some of my favourite bases. Any can be used alone or mixed with others to create a different base every single time.
2. Add crunch:
No one likes a floppy salad that lacks texture or crunch. Use some fresh vegetables to create the chomp in your salads. Green beans, creamy cauliflower, celery, cucumber, broccolini or radishes are a great addition in step two. Here you can also add some toasted nuts and seeds for additional flavour.
3. Add protein:
If you’re vegetarian add some boiled eggs, quinoa, buckwheat or chickpeas to ensure you’re getting a good hit of protein from your salads. For meat-lovers or muscle bound hunks, add some grilled fish or chicken for a lighter addition.
4. Drop in some good fats:
In step four we include good fats that your body needs and loves. Flaxseed oil, olive oil and tahini are all yummy additions to a summer salad. Avocados are another amazing source of monounsaturated fats that help reduce inflammation and are packed with fibre to help make you feel full. Be generous with the avocado - I never can quite understand why people put half an avocado in a salad that is serving six people! Aim for about half an avocado per person.
5. Flavour it up:
Add fresh, home grown herbs for some extra greens and flavour. Try and mix a couple of different herbs such as mint, basil, coriander and parsley to get a different flavour every time. Step five is also the time to season with some sea salt and cracked pepper. You may also want to add the juice of half a lemon or lime and crushed garlic or apple cider vinegar for a fresh summer zing to your salad.
If you’re unsure where to begin and need a little inspiration, follow the steps to making my Over the Rainbow Salad with Tahini and Lemon Dressing which is featured in my recipe book Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian.
For a healthy spin, combine any raw veggies you have available in this kaleidoscopic feast for a completely balanced meal. The tahini and lemon dressing tastes so much better than any pre-packaged dressing you would buy in the grocery store, and it literally takes a nanosecond to prepare.
I have a tip for you too, for a cheesier dressing, add two tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes or parmesan. If you love soy, this salad can be garnished with cubed fresh, organic tofu, marinated in wheat-free tamari for five minutes and fried in a small amount of coconut oil on all sides until crispy.
Whip it up and let me know how you liked it and if you made any of your own additions.
For more salad inspiration, head over to our recipe collection here.