Salads, like soups, have no rules behind their coming into being. They lie entirely in the interpretive hands of their maker, and unless you do like my friend at a college kid house party, who cooked rice not realizing it was the glutinous sort, and sloshed the whole tasteless sticky mess onto a bowl of lettuce and expected us to eat it (which we did because that was all there was), there is a very slim chance that a salad can be made bad.
Like most vegetarians, I started out making salads. I loved it. But my only reference to making salads at the time were the ones they served as a side with meat at restaurants. Not the most inventive salads, as you would imagine. Thankfully with exposure to cookbooks and restaurants that actually specialized in salads, I learned not just now to make my salads more unique in taste, but more nutritious and filling too.
Making a wholesome, satisfying salad is not exactly rocket science, but it’s still basic knowledge I wish I knew from the very beginning of my plant-based journey.
Here are some suggestions on how to build your own salad. It features the major food groups to make a proper meal out of it. However, this is still just a guide, and I highly encourage you to discover your own special combinations of taste and texture.
Choose your Leaf
In this case, Lollo Biondo lettuce.
Other suggestions: Arugula, Romaine, Lollo Rossa, Spinach, Local lettuce
2. Choose your Carbohydrate
I’ve picked oven-baked potatoes this time.
Other suggestions: Pasta, Couscous, Sweet Potato, Barley, Pumpkin
3. Choose your Protein
I’ve been a little ambitious to feature three proteins: Fried Tempeh, Roasted French Beans, and Walnuts. Keep in mind that these food groups are not absolute and your ingredients will cover more than one group. For example, the walnuts also deliver a healthy dose of heart-healthy Omega 3 fats.
Other suggestions: Tofu, Edamame, Chickpeas, Almonds, Broccoli, Quinoa, Lentils, Black Beans, Pumpkin Seeds
4. Choose your Fat
For the dressing, I’ve mixed Hemp Oil and Chia seeds, also highly sought-after for their Omega 3 fats, together with fresh orange juice. I added agave nectar, apple cider vinegar and salt, to bring out the flavour of this combination.
Other suggestions: Olive Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Tahini, Peanut Sauce (Yes, I mean Satay Sauce!)
5. Choose your Jazz
Let your imagination run wild with extra ingredients! I used up a container of Cucumber, Mango and Shredded Turnip that I previously prepared for Sushi. Salads are a great way to use leftover raw fruits and veggies. Dried fruits and nuts, sundried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and even unusual ingredients like crackers, granola and ready-to-eat nori seaweed, are fun and palatable toppings. Adding extra sweetness, tang and crunch will make the party in your mouth the greatest one in the block.
Layer it up!
Enjoy your simple DIY bowl of nourishment!