If you have the time a salad is a perfect lunch or dinner option and is another excellent portable food that can be deliciously healthy and really quite filling. Salads are perfect as you can include many grains, legumes and some great tasty proteins teamed with fresh seasonal leafy greens and vegetables. The most important aspect to a good salad is the dressing.
Grains or ingredients you can include in your salads are cous cous, burghal – (Cracked Wheat used to make tabouleh), barley, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, brown rice, cooked basmati rice, noodles such as buckwheat, rice, bean thread, you can also make your own croutons out of spraying a slice of bread with olive oil and chopping it into squares and baking it in a 180c oven for 10 – 15 minutes until golden. Use this method for tortillas, pita breads and lavosh, for crackers and pita chips to have with dips.
Aim for ½ a cup of grain in your salad per person if using only grains
Aim for ¼ a cup of grain in your salad per person if using grains and legumes
Legumes you can use in your salads can include cooked chick peas, lentils, cannellini beans, barlotti beans, three bean mix, check for the ingredients and buy the tinned ones without any added or extra salt or sugar. If you are cooking your own it is best to soak these over night first, discarding the soaking water and covering them with fresh water before simmering. It is not necessary to salt beans and they will take different cooking times so taste them after 20 minutes, you should be able to squash them in between your fingers, drain and cool before storing in the fridge. You will need to eat these within the week although you can freeze them.
Aim for 1 cup of legumes per person in a salad if using only legumes
Aim for ½ a cup of legumes in your salad per person if using legumes and grains
Vegetable Fillers for salads
Just about anything goes for a salad when adding in fresh vegetables. The important factor here is to use fresh not tinned, tinned vegetables serve another purpose. You can roast, barbecue, grill, steam or sauté most vegetables and use them for a salad. These vegetables could include, capsicum, eggplant, onion, Asian greens, corn, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, parsnips, green beans, broccoli and so on. Any vegetable that you eat for dinner you can include in a salad, top up your favourite combinations with some fresh vegetables like baby spinach, mixed lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, sprouts and you can also include a sprinkling of nuts and seeds. These could include sesame seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, almonds, roasted peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts.
Don’t forget about fruits, sliced or shredded apple, pear, orange, mandarin and grapefruit segments, pomegranates, fresh dates, diced melons, mangoes, peaches are all fantastic in certain salads and give a little sweetness and wonderful flavour combinations.
For delicious dressing recipes click here
Quinoa salad with broccoli and feta
Serves 2 Prep time 10 minutes Cooking time 15 minutes
- ½ cup of quinoa
- 100g broccolini or broccoli florets
- 2 shallots sliced
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained of most of the oil, chopped
- 50g feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Place the quinoa into a saucepan and cover with water, bring the water to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, in the last 8-9 minutes, add in the asparagus and the broccoli and continue cooking until all of the liquid has been cooked out, tip the quinoa and the vegetables into a bowl and allow to cool. Add in the semidried tomatoes, feta cheese and sunflower seeds. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the salad. Adjust the seasoning and serve. You could also add 75g of cooked protein to this salad or ½ of cooked legumes.
Pumpkin, bacon and rocket pasta salad
Serves 2 Prep time 10 minutes Cooking Time 15-20 minutes
- Oil spray
- 600g Jap or butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1.5cm pieces
- 120g pasta shells, cooked
- 70g lean bacon, sliced
- 100g baby rocket
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 200c
Place the diced pumpkin onto a tray and spray lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes until tender. Place the pumpkin into a large bowl and add in the rocket.
Cook the pasta as per the packet, drain and set aside. In a non-stick frypan cook off the bacon until crispy then add this to the pumpkin and rocket. Toss the pasta in the pan to pick up all of the wonderful flavours. Tip the pasta into the bowl with the pumpkin and combine the ingredients for the dressing, toss the salad with the dressing and serve.