Growing up in South Africa as the youngest in a household of four children, one of my chores from a young age was to make the salad. Making salad can potentially be dreadfully boring, and I rarely order salads in restaurants unless I know they do ‘proper’ salads because I there is nothing worse than a pile of cold salad leaves with four chunks of tomatoes, sliced onions and if you’re lucky a sprinkle of feta cheese or olives. And that’s why people don’t think salads are a meal, because without salads appealing to all our tastes and without more substance than leaves and tomatoes, they simply won’t keep you satisfied or full.
I guess you could say I’m a salad snob. But I feel grateful that my mom taught me that salads can be the best part of a meal, especially if you balance the greenery with a variety of colour and tastes to appeal to the senses. Both my sister and I, with thanks to our mum, have learnt to add fruit, flowers, meats, seeds and nuts to salads and we’ve since realised that not only does it make for a decent meal in itself, but our salads are so much more nutritional as a result.
Here’s what we have learnt about making salads both interesting and nourishing…
- Mix the leaves. Iceberg lettuce is not as bad as some may make out, but the reason why people look down on it is because ‘typical’ salads are often JUST iceberg lettuce. Mix up different textured leaves, add cress, add baby spinach and so on. Here’s a great visual guide to salad greens.
- Add fruit for sweetness. Dried cranderries are great if you haven’t got fresh fruit, but I simply adore blackberries or strawberries in a salad.
- Add nuts or seeds for texture and extra nutrition. And if you’re salad is quite simple in flavours try roasting the nuts.
- Combine different flavours. Dried meats with sour berries, or goats cheese with strawberries are all fab combinations.
- Add some veggies too. Carrots and apples go well together, or roasted have brocolli and sundried tomatoes together. I also love the Ottolenghi bean salad with orange zest and roasted hazelnuts… yum!
- Add flowers for colours. See here for which ones to use.
- For those of you non-veggie folk, add meat to your salads. A few years ago I went through a stage of being obsessed with BBQ steak salad (served with orange slices).
- Don’t forget the oil! Adding a ‘good’ oil to your salads are actually better for digestion.
This salad consists of fresh spring salad greens, figs, mulberries, avocado, ricotta cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Amazing!
Thanks Ma Laura for teaching us to make super good salads that also keep us healthy but full.