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How do you pep up a salad ?


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Warmer weather always means it's time to retire stews and roasts and eat the lighter cooler salad based dinners.

 

Only problem I have is they are a bit boring and never really interest me.

 

Closest I get to being excited by one is cooking up some sausages, some pancetta, hard boiling some eggs (but peeling the bastards is a mother matter) & some nice sun dried tomatoes.  Chop all that up when cooled or just warm so you essentially get a fry up in salad form.

 

Anybody got any salad based inspiration to share ?

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Fruit. I never really though of adding fruit to salads I suppose all the cool kids do it, but a guy at work used to bring them in with grapes and whatnot in, was a revaluation to me. Mango. Papaya,  grapes obviously all awesomeness. 

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I don't like to recommend Ottolenghi recipes because his recipes almost always include at least one ingredient that you'll need to hunt around for, and here it is Camargue red rice, but I've made this salad a couple of times and it always impresses:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/may/30/yotam-ottolenghi-vegetarian-rice-salad

 

There's a lot going on in there, so much so that one could take inspiration from just one or two individual ingredients, but it all combines really well. Deep fried shallots, if you can get them just right, are great. They are very easy to burn though, and a burnt shallot is a sad thing.

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I've swapped back to salads for lunch in the last couple of weeks; I almost always made them to take in with me when I was in the office but with WFH I had fallen back to more bread based lunches plus occasionally cooking a proper hot lunch.

 

Anyway, my main way to make them less boring also tends to make them less healthy! :lol:

I tend to have a pretty regular base of lettuce, cucumber, radish, tomato etc and then have a number of "additions that vary each day".  Favourite ones being things like:

  • Chopped up pork pie :)
  • Fried cheese - feta, goats or best of all manouri but bastard waitrose have stopped selling that :angry:
  • Mixed roasted veg (tomato, courgette, mushroom, beetroot, spring onion, carrot, mixed pepper, mild chilli peppers)
  • boiled new potato & raw spring onion with a small amount of mayo
  • Freshly fried salmon with lots of pepper
  • I'd add posh scotch egg too but not found anywhere local with good ones

I did do some homemade hummus last year too but normally CBA with that

 

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I think I read something somewhere about one of the reasons people get bored of salads is because the texture can feel unfulfilling, not satiating, like it's a side and not a real meal. Psychologically speaking, I mean.

 

So one tip I remember them saying from that is crunch always helps a salad. Not crunchy lettuce but things like nuts, seeds, croutons can give something to it. 

 

Obviously if you go too hard on this, at that point you might as well just have a sandwich, but it's something I try to keep in mind to help. 

 

It doesn't always have to be carbs though that make crunch, if that's an issue. Halloumi can be great because you can get some charred bits that add protein and crunch

 

Lastly a good dressing will obviously make a salad. If it's really tasty - a perfect balance of flavour and often tang (so vinegars or lemon juice or something like pomegranate molasses) can be so enjoyable that I can just want to eat dressing and lettuce. 

 

If you don't like the faff of peeling boiled eggs just stick a poached egg on. If it's nice and soft then it's like a dressing. I have to admit I'm a big fan of warm salads, so things like charred string beans, asparagus, or instead of lettuce as a base use bits of baked kale. 

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Beans are a good way to make a salad feel substantial.

 

I like Borlotti beans as they're not too mushy from the tin, with thinly sliced red onions which I steep in balsamic vinegar. That provides the acid of the dressing. The oil of the dressing is provided by the olive oil from a can of fancy tuna. This stuff is amazing, a world away from regular tinned tuna

 

https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/gol-ui/product/fish-/sainsburys-ventresca-tuna-filets-in-olive-oil--taste-the-difference-115g

 

Tuna.thumb.jpg.ef36bfa8bf9d85490d4a428545e55410.jpg

I drain the beans and add to a bowl, then put the tuna in, oil and all, then the red onions. I then add either salty black olives, or capers. Combine. Then I add lots of chopped flat leaf parsley, black pepper (no salt because olives), and whatever salad leaves you like. I am currently enjoying butterhead lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes. 

 

If you add some flatbread or similar it can be a pretty filling meal.

 

 

 

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Herbs and microgreens/sprouts make a big difference for me. 

You can buy these little things of sprouts from the supermarket but they are easy to do at home yourself, just stick a bunch of seeds in a jar and add water. I've been getting "sillygreens" recently which is £5 and it's basically pre-sprouted seeds. What I'm doing is planting some up in soil and eating the rest with salad or on sandwiches or whatever.

https://sillygreens.com/

 

Strangely, Tesco "finest" potted basil plants are the best basil I've tasted, if you snip the tops and pop them in a jar with some water they will grow new roots and you can basically have an unlimited amount of basil. Corainder is a pain in the arse to keep alive, you need to keep giving it water but always from a little dish underneath. I just buy fresh from Aldi, chop it finely and keep it in a tub in the freezer to use whenever I need it. I do the same with Chives, Garlic Chives etc.

Oregano, Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage all grow really well in a pot in the garden.

If you've got some green spaces near you have a look for Garlic Mustard, it's growing everywhere in abundance at the moment and it's a lovely flavour to add to things. I've also been getting some weird stuff from Forage Box https://www.foragebox.co.uk/market and Farmdrop https://www.farmdrop.com/category/fruit-and-veg/salad

 

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My other half told me she wants to eat more salads in the hot weather and came back with a list of those she'd like me to make.

 

Top of the list was potato salad which whilst delicious seems to defeat the point a touch. 

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Potato salad is great though (a cheese and potato salad sandwich is fantastic FWIW, but not the best dietary-wise).

 

However Waldorf Salad is also great, and it's perhaps my favourite recipe ever. You just put 5 things together and they become so much more than the sum of their parts. (I could eat a bucket of the stuff). Celery, walnuts, raisins (or grapes), apple, mayo. A little seasoning, maybe a squeeze of lemon and you're done. But you can mix it up - I made a lovely one with pears and hazelnuts, instead of apples and walnuts. And crucially for me, you control the amount of mayo if you make it yourself. Shop-bought ones are drenched in the stuff, but it really doesn't need it. I reckon you can make this pretty healthy.

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Some great ideas in here, but for me it’s the simplest ones that I go for over and over. So a really basic salsa to go with it - cherry toms,  cucumber, olive oil, a red chilli, garlic and coriander. Served with some fresh salad leaves. Or adding pine nuts or toasted walnuts. Or making a dip with peanut butter, lemon juice and sesame oil. All fairly stock items but means I’ll have them regularly. Less likely to have in as stock items but pomegranate seeds are a really nice addition too. 
 

if you want some good recipes, check out veggie or vegan food blogs. Obv you can add meat if you want to, but that’s where you’ll find the variety instead of relying on meat for texture and taste. I haven’t been able to recreate it properly but one of the best I had was a vegan pea and mint salad, was lovely and refreshing. 

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I make a variation on this semi-regularly https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetable-recipes/mixed-leaf-salad-with-mozzarella-mint-peach-prosciutto/

 

In general with salads I just select some or all of these in a way that makes sense:

 

Protein

Grilled chicken

Grilled lamb

Cured meats

Tuna

Smoked salmon

Hot smoked salmon

Smoked mackerel

Tofu

Prawns

Squid

 

Crunchy things
Croutons

Seeds

Crispy bacon bits

Crispy onions/shallots

 

Fruit

Apples

Oranges

Peaches

Pears

Figs

Grapes

Mango

Preserved lemons

 

Veg

Green beans

Charred purple sprouting/tenderstem broccoli

Edamame

Avocado

Red onions

Sweetcorn

Pickled beetroot

Red peppers

Cherry tomatoes

Roasted aubergine

Roasted pumpkin/squash

Roasted red onion

New potatoes

Radishes

 

Nuts

Pine nuts

Walnuts

Cashews

Pistachios

 

Cheese

Feta

Mozzarella

Parmesan

Blue cheese

Haloumi

 

Oil

Olive oil

Sesame oil

Rapeseed oil

 

Acidity

Rice wine

White wine vinegar

Cider vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Lime juice

Lemon juice

Yuzu

Yoghurt

Pomegranate molasses

 

Leaves

Whatever random mixed bag I feel like buying

Butterhead lettuce

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On 11/06/2021 at 19:54, MarkN said:

Potato salad is great though (a cheese and potato salad sandwich is fantastic FWIW, but not the best dietary-wise).

 

However Waldorf Salad is also great, and it's perhaps my favourite recipe ever. You just put 5 things together and they become so much more than the sum of their parts. (I could eat a bucket of the stuff). Celery, walnuts, raisins (or grapes), apple, mayo. A little seasoning, maybe a squeeze of lemon and you're done. But you can mix it up - I made a lovely one with pears and hazelnuts, instead of apples and walnuts. And crucially for me, you control the amount of mayo if you make it yourself. Shop-bought ones are drenched in the stuff, but it really doesn't need it. I reckon you can make this pretty healthy.

Potato is much healthier than people believe. Most nutrition related science is bad science because it is so new that we know too little. But that's another topic.

Potato makes a very positive impact on the gut flora. This is especially true when cooked and then cooled down due to the formation of resistance starch that will manage to pass the stomach intact and will become free food for the gut flora. Which is known to be very good for inmune system, to avoid leaky gut and autoimmune related diseases. 

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On 10/06/2021 at 18:12, Davros sock drawer said:

Beans are a good way to make a salad feel substantial.

 

I like Borlotti beans as they're not too mushy from the tin, with thinly sliced red onions which I steep in balsamic vinegar. That provides the acid of the dressing. The oil of the dressing is provided by the olive oil from a can of fancy tuna. This stuff is amazing, a world away from regular tinned tuna

 

https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/gol-ui/product/fish-/sainsburys-ventresca-tuna-filets-in-olive-oil--taste-the-difference-115g

 

Tuna.thumb.jpg.ef36bfa8bf9d85490d4a428545e55410.jpg

I drain the beans and add to a bowl, then put the tuna in, oil and all, then the red onions. I then add either salty black olives, or capers. Combine. Then I add lots of chopped flat leaf parsley, black pepper (no salt because olives), and whatever salad leaves you like. I am currently enjoying butterhead lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes. 

 

If you add some flatbread or similar it can be a pretty filling meal.

 

 

 

I do a similar one but simpler inspired from a Spanish salad. Posh Spanish chickpeas from the glass jar drained and rinsed (they are a cut above the standard tinned ones),  really good tuna like yours above or glass jar again, red onion, some really good tomatoes cubed. Olive oil and some Sherry vinegar (red or white wine will do) and plenty of salt. 
 

Banging lunch with a few nice Italian crackers. If I’m feeling a bit dirty I’ll even put some Frank’s in which is a shame given the ingredients but it works v well!

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Also a simple tomato and onion salad is incredible but as a side/ accompaniment to something else. Hard to find really decent tomatoes I find. Folks live in Valencia, Spain and the local tomatoes are something else. Massive misshapen things but the flavour is incredible. 

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On 13/06/2021 at 07:33, daifuco said:

Potato is much healthier than people believe. Most nutrition related science is bad science because it is so new that we know too little. But that's another topic.

Potato makes a very positive impact on the gut flora. This is especially true when cooked and then cooled down due to the formation of resistance starch that will manage to pass the stomach intact and will become free food for the gut flora. Which is known to be very good for inmune system, to avoid leaky gut and autoimmune related diseases. 

 

Taters are great. I think they get a bad rep because a lot times they get drowned in butter or mayo or people can't eat them.

 

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Also, potatoes is one of the less engieniered foods, the very opposite of corn. I am not sure why that is the case. But you are eating pretty original stuff, oh and it has all essential aminoacids, but probably not enough protein to survive just on them.

 

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I'm also getting back into salad for lunch every day after slipping into the habit of having bread at lunch whilst WFH.

 

Something I love is chopping some chorizo, sticking it in a frying pan for a few minutes, and then chucking it on top. So good.

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On 15/06/2021 at 23:26, stephen129 said:

A nicoise salad I made today (there were green beans too but I forgot to put them in until after I took the shot). I used a fancy can of Ortiz white tuna for this too which was quite nice (not sure it's worth £4.50 though).

 

 

 

 

The Ortiz stuff is just like regular tinned tuna in oil. Very disappointing. Try the Sainsbury's stuff I mentioned before, it's a totally different texture, perhaps because they cut the fish differently (it looks like small, loose fillets in the tin. Or maybe that the fish in the tin is quite loose, so it is more coated in the olive oil? I dunno, but it's not like any other tinned tuna I've tried.

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On 10/06/2021 at 15:36, scruffycat said:

Fruit. I never really though of adding fruit to salads I suppose all the cool kids do it, but a guy at work used to bring them in with grapes and whatnot in, was a revaluation to me. Mango. Papaya,  grapes obviously all awesomeness. 

 

Yes. Nectarines are great too.

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