Those of you who’ve dined at my table know that I make a killer salad. I rarely follow salad recipes, preferring to follow my instincts and senses. Although I occasionally glean ideas from magazines and Pinterest, I usually end up modifying and substituting to get the exact dish I want!
I do, however, follow a general set of principles that I’ve developed over years of daily salad making. Principles that are guided by texture, taste, juxtaposition and aesthetics. Call me the ‘salad whisperer’, if you will.
My salad recipe making “rules”?
- 5 ingredients maximum; I can’t stand a kitchen-sink salad. Too many flavours and consistencies vying for my attention. Simpler is always better and takes less time to prepare! (Hubby, are you paying attention???)
- contrasting colours are key; choose at least two very different coloured ingredients to add visual interest and pique the diner’s curiosity. I love blueberries with spinach!
- combine tender and crisp; different textures will add flavour and depth to your salad experience. Try pecans and goat cheese.
- pair sweet with salty; these two opposing flavours work well when combined and are often synonymous with the ‘tender and crisp’ rule above. Strawberries and feta. Or cranberries and seaweed.
- under-dress rather than drown; I used to be a ‘dressing on the side’ girl. Too many bad experiences with salads wilting in thick, sugary sauces. When done properly, a dressing enhances the primary flavours of the salad. Subtle is best, so use a light hand.
- salads aren’t only side dishes; at lunchtime, a salad is usually my entire meal. To get me through the afternoon, it needs protein and sometimes a bit of starch. I often use : to ‘beef up’ my midday meal. Warm or cold, leftover chicken, fish or tofu can be a tasty addition to your greens!
Be creative! You’re really only limited by your imagination (and what’s in your fridge…)!
5 salad recipes – Use them as guidelines to create your personal signature salad
1. Spinach salad with strawberries or blueberries and feta
- Ingredients: spinach, strawberries or blueberries, sliced mushrooms, crumbled feta chess and toasted almonds
- Dressing: EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and balsamic vinegar (3:1); whisk and drizzle over top
2. Raw kale salad with sun-dried tomato and pine nuts
- Ingredients: kale, sun-dried tomato slices, toasted pine nuts, sliced avocado
- Dressing: EVOO, lemon juice, crushed garlic, cracked pepper and parmesan cheese
3. Mediterranean style veggies with boccincini
- Ingredients: cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red peppers, sliced onions, boccincini rounds
- Dressing: Basil pesto, EVOO, crushed garlic
4. Quinoa salad with chicken, kale and cranberries
- Ingredients: cooked and cooled quinoa (leftovers are great), chicken breast chunks, blanched and cooled chopped kale, dried cranberries
- Dressing: canola oil, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, crushed garlic
This salad is so good that I never remember to take a photo before I’m all finished!
5. Field greens with green onions, shrimp and sesame-citrus vinaigrette
- Ingredients: field greens (including romaine, arugula, spinach), green onions, cooked and cooled shrimp, julienned peppers
- Dressing: orange juice, sesame oil, crushed garlic, grated fresh ginger, toasted sesame seeds
Do you have a ‘signature’ salad recipe? Tell me!
Better yet, make one of the above your own and share your modifications and substitutions below!