3 Ways to Love Salad

by Laura Gale

It worries me that when I say ‘salad’, you might have visions of a big sad bowl of 5-day old, watery ice berg lettuce; tomato wedges that were cut with a knife too blunt for such a delicate operation; maybe some bits of cucumber; probably chunks of carrot that can be heard being crunched around the table and, if you grew up in a typical Aussie house, maybe you were lucky enough to have some chunks of tasty cheese thrown in.  So with that in mind, I get it.  Salad as a meal isn’t all that appealing.  But, I’m here to tell you that it can be – with a few simple strategies. Here’s how to love salad:

Texture, texture, texture!

My general rules: raw veg, roast veg, fresh herbs, toasted nuts and something creamy or rich.

    • Raw veg: this can be as simple as your chosen green base. Forget about iceberg and think about baby spinach (safe), rocket (peppery kick), kale (very fibrous, advanced salad eaters only – chop it as fine as you can and massage with a bit of olive oil to make it easier to eat).
    • Roast veg: the charred edges and soft centres of your chosen roasted veg will win over even the biggest critic. Whether you roast in advance and serve cooled, or add to the salad straight out of oven, this step is non-negotiable.  Think: cubes of sweet potato, wedges of pumpkin or beetroot, florets of cauliflower/broccoli (include the cauli leaves and/or broccoli stalk) or, my current fave, chunks of purple cabbage.
    • Fresh herbs liven up any salad. Choose 1-2 herbs and add in a couple of handfuls.  Coriander, mint, parsley and dill all work well.  Use your bright green soft herbs, more so than woodier herbs like thyme or rosemary.
    • Toasted nuts are another way to add some interest, another flavour and some ‘crunch’. As well as some good fats, fibre and protein. Roast raw almonds in the oven while you’ve got your veggies in there.
    • Last but certainly not least, you must have something that’s rich and/or creamy. Think avocado, fetta, or grilled haloumi as a starting point.  You can probably skip this if you’re using a particularly creamy dressing, like my miso-tahini listed below.

Manage your macronutrients.

It’s hard to make a satisfying meal without including carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

  • Protein often gets left out, especially if you’re creating a meat-free meal. Aside from the obvious choice of chicken; think about getting creative with some spiced and fried chickpeas, quick-braised lentils; some flavoured tofu; sliced and fried tempeh; poached or hard-boiled eggs or even serving your salad on a bed of hummus.
  • Add a grain to add some bulk, some carbohydrate and, if you’re super canny, extra protein and essential fatty acids! Without some sort of grain element, you (or whoever you’re trying to coax into being a salad-lover) might be back fossicking around the kitchen looking for something to fill a rumbly tummy not long after you’ve created your masterpiece.  Brown or black rice are great options, as are quinoa, buckwheat and pearled barley

A delicious dressing!

Finally, find a delicious dressing that brings it all together and always keep the ingredients on-hand. Some tried and tested ideas as follows (note: my dressing ‘recipes’ are really approximations of what I do at home but there’s TONS of dressing recipes out there on the internet if you’d like something a little more refined):

  • Wholegrain mustard vinaigrette (combine 3-4 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs red wine/apple cider vinegar, 1 tbs mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup/honey, a good grind of salt and pepper).
  • Lemon miso vinaigrette (combine 3-4 tbs olive oils, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs mellow white miso (or whichever miso you’ve got in the fridge), salt and pepper).
  • Miso-tahini dressing (My fave! Combine 2 tbs tahini, 1 tbs miso, thin with water or apple cider vinegar to desired consistency).
  • Lemon-tahini dressing (Combine 2 tbs tahini, 1 tbs lemon juice, 1 tsp maple syrup/honey, thin with water to desired consistency).

So with all that in mind, why don’t you try making a salad as a meal this week.  It’s really just a re-imagined, way more exciting version of a meat/meat-free protein and three veg.  Let me know how you go!

For further information or to book a consultation with Laura contact the clinic on 035977 0117 or book online here.