A well-crafted salad can be one of the most important parts of your dinner, or even be your main course. So why does salad seem so blah? I think it just seems less sexy compared to a juicy steak. Or less comforting than a big plate of pasta. Well. It’s time we give salad some swagger!
Salad is the perfect meal for the small kitchen. Versatile, easy to make, and more importantly, easy cleanup. All you need for a great salad is 4 ingredients. A delicious salad should have a base (usually lettuce), an ingredient that provides texture (nuts or seeds), some kind of fruit to bring some sweetness (tomatoes count), and something to bring some flavour (salty or tangy cheese is my favourite).
Here are a couple of my favourite salad recipes to whet your appetite…
1. THE HUMBLE CAPRESE SALAD is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Make sure to use some type of fresh mozzarella, such as a bocconcini or for di latte. I also like to sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top for extra flavour and crunch.
(Prep time: 10 minutes; serves 2)
- 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced into medallions
- 2 large bocconcini, sliced into medallions
- 4 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh baby arugula
If I’m making this salad for immediate consumption, I like to layer the slices of tomato and cheese on top of the arugula, then top with the basil and onion. Then I drizzle the oil and balsamic over top, and season with a couple of turns of the pepper grinder, and a pinch of salt. If I make it to be eaten later, I combine all the ingredients except the arugula, which I keep separately until just before I serve it. Because wilty arugula makes everyone sad.
2. THREE BEAN SALAD can be transformed from the side dish an embarrassed relative sneaks onto the table, (thanks for the effort sis!), to the star dish which you can lord over everyone at every family get together (in your face mom!). Schadenfreude never tasted so good!
(Prep time: 10 minutes; serves 4-6)
- 1 540 ml can each of black beans, red kidney beans, canellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 Serrano pepper, seeds and pith removed, diced
- 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves (or substitute flat leaf parsley)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (omit for dairy-free)
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
Toss all ingredients gently together in a large non metallic serving bowl. Allow flavours to meld for 1-2 hours, then mix in the lime juice and zest, and serve immediately.
(Turn this salad into a meal by adding a good quality, olive oil packed tuna)
Remember, healthy does not equal boring rabbit food! And don’t be afraid to have fun, and be as creative as you want.