Summer salads always arrive on the menu when the sun comes out, the temperatures warm-up, and the days lengthen. With all that renewed activity taking place, it’s always more encouraging to eat lighter, fresher and faster like what you see on Gourmet Recipes.
1. Fresh is best
You can’t beat fresh ingredients and the extra flavor they bring to a salad. There’s nothing worse than limp lettuce or browned or limp leaves being served up. If your ingredients are fresh from the market all the better but that’s not always possible. When composing your salad try to get as many fresh ingredients on there as possible as that’s where the most nutrition is. At the end of the day you want your salad to be both tasty and a healthy recipe.
2. Get creative with ingredients
Go wild with veges. How about including some freshly cut green beans, grilled zucchini, avocado, grated beetroot, mushrooms, cherry tomatos, different coloured peppers, or shredded cabbage. Or try something a little different like fennel, snow-peas, asparagus, or artichokes. A scattering of cheese like shaved parmesan or crumbled blue cheese gives a scrummy taste boost. Torn mozzarella or crumbled feta are fab too. How about adding some fruit? Cranberries, fresh blueberries, watermelon, sliced pear, orange or manderin segments all work well and provide a good taste balance to the savory ingredients.
3. Think outside lettuce
If you’re looking for greenery there are hundreds of different types to choose from. OK maybe they’re not all available at your local market, but if yours is anything like mine, there are at least six different types of lettuce off the top of my head. Some of my favs are cos, buttercrunch, and deer tongue. How about some fresh rocket or baby spinach? Lettuce is super easy to grow at home, even if you only have a wee balcony.
4. Add some protein
Adding protein can turn your salad from a limp accompaniment to a meal in itself. This is especially important if you’re feeding gluten-free or celiac diners who will, quite frankly, be starving within the hour if you’re only feeding them a few leaves. It also takes quite a lot of energy to chew through lettuce and it’s very disappointing if it’s only going to temporarily fill the gap.
There is a wide selection of protein sources you can choose from. You can add chicken, beef, lamb, tuna, salmon, shrimp, beans, lentils , tofu, hard-boiled eggs, quinoa, rice, carrots, corn, or almonds. Just pick one or two from the list and scatter them through the salad.
5. Add seeds, nuts and fresh herbs
The secret to a tasty salad is adding little bursts of unexpected flavor. Seeds, nuts and fresh herbs are the perfect addition. Try seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, sesame or poppy seeds or a combination. Add some walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia, pecans or pinenuts. Toss in some pomegrante seeds which look superb.
6. Let people dress their own salad
Individual tastes dictate a whole raft of preferences for salad dressings. I personally don’t like salads swimming in oil, nor am a fan of creamy dressings or mayonnaise. Not dressing your salad also makes it last longer. Any uneaten salad can be popped in a container in the fridge for lunch the next day or the next night’s dinner.
7. Serve it at room temperature
A chilled salad just doesn’t cut it! It bites on the palate, hides the natural flavours of the ingredients, and quite frankly shows you’re not thinking of the diner. OK maybe the cleanliness brigade might disagree on this (but I’m all for letting my immune system naturally do its thing), but I think removing a pre-prepared salad from the fridge 1-2 hours before consuming is perfect. It takes that freezing chill off.