Salad is not what it used to be. It wasn’t long ago that all I would expect of (green) salad was iceberg lettuce, wedges of squishy tomato, rounds of cucumber and if you’re lucky cubes of cheddar/tasty cheese and/or Paul Newman dressing of one variety or another.
Green, leafy vegetables are some of the healthiest things you can eat, and it turns out that all you have to do to make them delicious is add a few more ingredients and you have half a meal. Ok, salad can be a whole meal in itself… sometimes, but you usually need an extra flavourful ingredient to make it so.
My criteria for wonderful salads:
- more ingredients! I know i just said ‘all you have to do is add a few more ingredients’, but I really love salads where there is variety in each bite.
- fresh herbs. Don’t just think parsley, basil, coriander etc either, the ‘woodier’ herbs such as pineapple sage, or even kaffir lime leaves can be added if sliced really finely first.
- Add (cooked) veggies! Putting a little effort in beforehand to steam some broccoli or roast some pumpkin etc always pays off.
- Mix it up with different nuts/seeds/cheeses
- Add something sweet! I used to think this was sacrilegious, seeing as salad is supposed to be healthy. Turns out a scattering of dried cranberries or candied nuts etc is actually fabulously tasty and balances some of the bitter tastes you might get with the greens, so there is nothing wrong with that!
- Think about ingredient pairing. My favourite recently is pear and walnut, and pear slices in balsamic vinegar are heavenly.
Basically, there are I don’t know how many combinations of fantastic ingredients out there to make really tasty salads. I’ve been experimenting and it usually pays off.
One trick though, if you don’t have any great fruit/nuts/cheese on hand, is to dress your salad greens with some fancy vinegar. For some reason i’m happy to steam/roast some additional veg, but find mixing up dressing a bit of a chore. That’s no problem when your local farmer’s market has a selection of exotic vinegars. Splash this on, along with a top quality olive oil, and that is actually all you need.