I know you’ve been seeing a lot of soup recipes pop up, and rightly so as Autumn makes a pretty nice arrival, but while there are still some kale plants in the backyard, and some herbs hanging around, let’s not throw your salad bowl in the back of the cupboard just yet.
I live off salad, and at times it has nothing to do with health and everything to do with time and convenience. My fridge is always packed full of fresh produce, and cupboards with nuts and seeds so for me, it is often much easier to throw everything into a bowl to create the base and majority of a dish, than it is to cook a different or more complicated meal. Strangely enough, this is the same thought process I have with vegetable soups, but I want to hold onto my summer food just a bit longer. Thanks to the pop up restaurant crew last year for being the feature shot in this article too.
So what should a salad NOT be…and what it should…
The question many people ask, is how do you make a salad taste great? Grated carrot, cucumber and iceberg lettuce is what Maccas call a salad, and what I call a terrible garnish. It’s about rich ingredients and variety and having confidence to build something awesome.
It shouldn’t be boring, tasteless, watery, made from 3 awful ingredients, a side thought or a last resort.
It should be nutritious, tasty, look appealing, be full of fats and proteins, have colour, and be a great foundation to your meal. I make sure my salads always have plenty of greens, some coloured vegetables in season, seeds and nuts, optional meats of your choice, and of course if you’re like me, haloumi is always a favourite.
Making friends with salad
1. Start by building a base of greens. Broccoli, spinach, rocket, and kale are all great choices.
2. Next, add some colour by choosing your favourite in season veg or even a little fruit if you’re that way inclined. I’m loving roasted baby beets and baby carrots right now.
3. Texture is key! Toasted or raw nuts and seeds shouldn’t be taken lightly, add plenty and don’t be scared to try new options. Brazil nuts are awesome right now for selenium boosting.
4. Dress me. You can skip the cheap mayo or the chemical-filled lite dressings and go straight for the good stuff. Think hemp, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, miso and maple.
5. I always like to add one thing that brings the whole salad together, and this is usually a herb like coriander, hot chili flakes, or sprinkled nori sheets. Just boosts the nutritional profile while adding a finishing touch.
6. Finally, if you feel like it, you can add haloumi, free range roasted chicken, organic boiled eggs, coconut oil roasted kumara fries or home made falafel.
Here are a few of my go-to salads for the evenings and I always make enough to take some leftovers for lunch. I haven’t made a complete recipe as it’s more about seeing how you can easily throw together something awesome the more you practice and get the hang of it. For my seasoned salad lovers, you may just take a little bit of inspiration and make your own version. I can’t wait to see some of your own salad shots.
Roasted baby carrots, red cabbage, red onion, coriander, toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted walnuts, avocado oil, salt and pepper.
Roasted baby carrots are the star of the show, adding texture and flavour. Mix all other ingredients on a plate or large platter and serve hot toasted nuts and seeds on top.
Rocket, celery, sprouts, raw mushroom, broccoli, optional free range pulled chicken breast and dressed with lemon, olive oil, chopped basil, salt and pepper.
The sprouts are a secret weapon here and bring the nutrient count up massively. I lightly steam my broccoli and then add all other ingredients to combine. This would go great with any fish also.
Grilled haloumi, courgette ribbons, cucumber slices, green apple, hemp oil, crumbled nori seaweed sheets, lemon juice and pepper.
I actually forgot the walnuts I was going to use in this salad, but they would have been amazing. Pan fry the haloumi while you throw all other ingredients onto a large platter. Place hot haloumi on top and then crush nori sheets in your hands over top. Lemon juice helps absorb the non-haem iron for you plant lovers.
Roasted kumara, baby spinach, red capsicum, coriander, roasted red onion, tamari almonds with a miso, maple and sesame oil dressing.
This is such an easy to make roasted vegetable salad, and you can change it up to suit what you have on hand. Pumpkin and beetroot would go equally well roasted. Simply roast the vegetables you want, allow to cool, and then mix all other ingredients in carefully. Whisk up the dressing and then fold through and serve with extra herbs for garnish.