I love salads. Which is lucky, I would be a lot less healthy if I didn’t. I often make a side salad for dinner and a few times when I had people over, they would ask me for the recipe. Thing is, I don’t have one. Which isn’t what people want to hear. And it’s certainly not ideal when you write a recipe blog.
My idea of a good salad is about the opposite of your average cafeteria salad. Quite frankly, I hate those: a few sad looking pieces of Iceberg lettuce (which is a great crunch adder for wraps, tacos or burgers but rarely makes it into my salads because it’s about as exciting as plain water on a cold day), topped with an insanely heavy dressing that has more calories than the daily special would have and if you’re lucky, a few shredded carrots. Thanks, but no thanks. How is that supposed to be healthy? Not to mention tasty..
My go-to is what I refer to as “discovery salads” and usually constitute of what I find – discover – in my fridge. Are you thinking, thanks, I could have figured out that one myself? Ok, here’s a very general recipe:
- Basis: greens of some sort. I love Spinach, Butter lettuce, Arugula, or Romaine but choose what you like and can find. Mix if you like.
- Vegetables: I frequently add peppers, cucumber (shredded or cubed), carrots (shredded or cubed), tomatoes and celery (sticks). A bit more special are beets or (mixed) mushrooms tossed in warm vinegar. Is cabbage a vegetable? Either way, needs to be listed too, so good.
- Fruit and Berries: Apple and Pear (both either shredded or cubed) go verywell with most salads. Make sure you add it at the very end and sprinkle it with lemon juice because both oxidize quickly and look ugly. If you add fruit, leave out some of the veggies. Raisins or dried cranberries and fresh berries in the summer (Black-, Blue-, Straw- or Raspberries) also add some sweetness.
- Protein: Sliced chicken (baked or cooked, seasoned if you like), canned tuna or salmon, eggs, Feta cheese, goat cheese, grated Parmesan. I would stick to one or two. Chicken goes well with any of the cheeses listed, fish well with eggs. Sliced Parmesan on Arugula with a simply olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing is one of my favourite salads.
- Healthy fats: Avocado, seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin..) or nuts (almonds, cashews, pine, walnuts or your favourite). What’s delicious and super fancy tasting is if you warm up the nuts in a bit of water in a frying pan, add some brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir over low heat until there is no liquid left, only gooey yummy sticky candy-like nuts.
- Grains: quinoa, barley, couscous, even lentils, have made it into my salad bowl. De-li-cious. Where do chickpeas fit in? A must try!
- Toppings: green onion, purple onion, olives, artichoke hearts, cilantro, parsley, mint, lime or lemon zest. I’d stick to one leafy topping per salad but it’s your choice.I personally absolutely detest cilantro but most people I know love it and think I’m crazy, so I felt compelled to list it.
- Salad around the world: give it a South American feel by adding corn and black beans. Or Asian, with peanuts or sesame seeds and a soy sauce dressing. Please don’t be offended if you’re South American or Asian and think I’ve simplified things. I’m Swiss and people think all I eat is cheese and chocolate. And they are right. No, seriously, to me that tastes South American or Asian.
Obviously I never add everything I just listed, that would be quite ridiculous, but I encourage you to be creative and you’ll be surprised at what goes well together. Oh and check out these dressings to make any salad (even the one from your work’s cafeteria) more interesting.
What is your favourite creation?