July 12, 2019 6:18 am Leave your thoughts
Summery days are upon us….and if you’re enjoying some salad days yourself, then read on! We want to make sure the nation’s salads are as good as they possibly can be! Farewell to bowls of limp lettuce, soggy tomatoes and shrivelled cucumber. There’s so much more to a salad than that – and we’ve got five #toptips to help you achieve salad greatness!
#Tip1: structural engineering
Is a salad just a mishmash of things from the fridge? Or a cleverly structured meal? I’ve consulted some ‘salad experts’, who, it transpires, would have us think in terms of layers. For these master-saladiers, a salad is built up deliberately and carefully. There should be a base, some protein and some toppings. (We’ll get onto the dressing and seasoning later.)
The base of a salad is often leaves – lettuce or shredded greens – but it doesn’t have to be! How about a base of quinoa, rice, pasta or bulgur wheat, instead? Or cooked chickpeas or lentils? Whatever you choose, this layer should make up the majority of your dish.
To make a salad a proper meal, you then need a protein element. For meat-eaters, this could be strips of cooked meat or flakes of fish. Others might prefer cubes of hard or spoonfuls of soft cheese. If you’re vegan, cooked pulses are a great addition, or a handful of nuts and seeds.
Toppings aren’t just for the top, of course – but they’re what ‘top’ your salad off and give it real interest. So you might throw in some nuts and seeds, or add some fresh herbs or fresh or dried fruit. You might even think about bean sprouts (see our blog here for advice on sprouting your own). The best toppings add texture and bring great taste: they’re the equivalent, really, of the sixpence in the Christmas pudding – the bits everyone wants to get on their fork. And it’s in the toppings where your imagination can run wild!
#Tip2: don’t go naked
Dress your salad! Use the best oil you can get, either to use on its own or to make your own mayonnaise or dressing. We’ve got an unbeatable range of cold-pressed, unrefined and extra-virgin oils, all of which are nutrient-dense. How about extra-virgin olive oil for a fresh, grassy, fruity taste – or pumpkin oil for a much richer, nuttier taste? With the finest oil, you’re not just bringing a new flavour to your salad – and making it moister and easier to eat – you’re literally adding a whole new layer of nutrition.
Many of our oils work perfectly on their own: simply toss your salad leaves in the oil of your choice or drizzle it over the salad at the end.
For three great, simple salad dressings, see our instructions here: Salad dressing: make your own or buy ours.
#Tip3: seasons’ greetings
Season the leaves, too. Yes, you’ll have lots of great flavours already, but you need to bring them all out. If you’re making your own salad dressing, don’t forget to add seasoning to it. If you’re using oil on its own, then a tiny pinch of our finest sea salt, along with a grinding of fresh black peppercorns, takes it to a new level. Of course, we have other organic herbs and spices too, which, depending on your other ingredients, may be just what your salad needs.
#Tip4: the best ingredients
Use the best ingredients: the simplicity of a salad calls for ingredients rich in flavour, freshness and nutrition. Shop NGF for the finest organic nuts, seeds, grains and dried fruit for your salads!
#Tip5: working together
Ready to go? Mulling over ingredients? It’s important to make sure that they all work well together. There should be a range of tastes and textures, which should complement one another, rather than being wildly different. If you’ve got a heavy, nutty grain as a base, for instance, you might like to lighten the mood with some fresh herbs, or a hint of sweet fruit. If you’re using a mass of leaves, then dotting seeds and small cubes of protein around it can bring interest and texture (and stop you feeling too much like a rabbit). Not sure if brown lentils and dried apricots would work together in a salad? Perturbed about the combination of pumpkin seeds and walnut oil? Try a mouthful before you mix them in!
Five simple salad ideas
It’s hot out there and you want to keep things easy! Here are five easy but effective salad recipes to try.
- Mixed bean salad: combine a tin of mixed beans (your base and also your protein) with chopped red onion, red pepper and celery (for toppings). Dress with a light, lemony oil.
- Use up leftover pasta in a pasta salad, with the addition of organic nuts and seeds, dressed with mayonnaise and some fresh herbs.
- If you’re looking for a more substantial salad, go for grain. Try this recipe here for Mediterranean brown rice salad or here for our millet and chick pea salad.
- I’m not sure it’s possible to improve on a traditional simple Greek salad! You’ll need green leaves, cucumber, red onion, cubes of feta cheese and black olives. Season with dried oregano and dress with extra-virgin olive oil.
Five complicated salad ideas
Wanting to push the boat out? Take a look at these for inspiration!almonds, black olives, black peppercorns, brown lentils, bulgar wheat, bulghur wheat, bulgur wheat, chia seeds, chickpeas, cold-pressed oils, dried apricots, dried fruit, dried oregano, extra virgin olive oil, extra-virgin oils, goji berries, lentils, make your own mayonnaise, make your own salad dressing, mayonnaise, mixed beans, Nuts, organic dried fruit, organic herbs, organic nuts, organic seeds, organic spices, pasta, pretentious salads, Pulses, pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, rapeseed oil, Rice, Salad, salad dressing, sea salt, Seeds, simple salads, soya oil, sprouts, sunflower oil, top tips, unrefined oils, walnut oil
This post was written by Yzanne