Salads are definitely one of my preferred lunch options, especially during a work week. Salads are easy, relatively inexpensive and pretty darn healthy. One thing I’m often asked by friends and colleagues is how to make salads interesting, and filling. I think people sometimes get thrown just by the word “salad” as if it automatically equates to a bowl of leafy greens. I rarely eat leafy green salads, as I don’t find them filling, so if you’re someone who gets stuck in a salad rut, I hope this post provides you with some new and fresh inspiration.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I like to eat a high percentage of raw foods, so I try to keep most, if not all of my salad ingredients raw. But in the interest of making salads enjoyable and versatile for a greater number of people, I’ve included a load of options below, both raw and cooked.
The below steps should serve more as a guideline, rather than a recipe. The more you create, the more adventurous you’ll get with mixing up the ingredients.
Step 1. Start with a filling, protein rich base. Think brown rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, noodles or even pasta. And if you’d prefer to keep it raw, try sprouting the grains/legumes/pulses. Plant-based proteins and complex carbohydrates add a wealth of nutrients that keep us feeling full, are high in fiber and low in fat and sugar.
Step 2. Add some greens. You could stick with the regular rocket, baby spinach or cos lettuce. Better yet, add asparagus, green beans, broccolini, brussels sprouts, flat parsley, coriander – anything green really! Green vegies are packed full of nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.
Step 3. Throw in a feature. I like to add one or two ‘feature’ ingredients. Something that will add texture and a burst of flavour. Try nuts, seeds, thick cut chunky veg like roasted beetroot, pumpkin or potato, grated carrot, sauerkraut, tofu/tempeh or avocado.
Step 4. Dress is up. Dressings generally tie the whole dish together and are a simple way to add flavour and moisture. I always make my own dressing by simply combining basic condiments like tahini, mustard, miso or chutney, with extra virgin olive oil and a tangy/acidic cider vinegar or citrus juice + a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Following are a couple of my favourite combinations…
- Black rice, cos lettuce, mixed mushrooms, chili/miso dressing (chili olive oil, miso paste, liquid veg stock to thin).
- Sprouted chickpeas, baby spinach, grated carrots and fresh lemon/olive oil/salt & pepper dressing.
- Quinoa, shredded kale, almonds and garlic/olive oil dressing.
- Sprouted mung beans, flat parsley, sauerkraut and mustard/tahini/lemon juice/olive oil dressing.
- Soba noodles, coriander & mint, grilled tofu and sesame oil/soy/ginger/fresh chili dressing.
While I don’t always stick to this formula, because for me, it comes down to what I have in the fridge/garden, what’s available seasonably, and what I feel like. However, it is a great way to base decisions if you’re doing a weekly shop and planning meals.
What are your favourite salad combinations?