Get creative with salad this summer! Use fresh, local ingredients; play with textures; and add healthy fats to dressings for an easy nutritional boost.
A great salad is more than mere leaves and dressing. With the summer bounty now in full swing, all it takes is a few seasonal additions plus some flavour perks to revamp beloved greens into a healthy main course, appetizer, side dish, or even dessert.
Layering leafy greens with a mix of different vegetables, herbs, wholesome grains, grilled fish or poultry, and fresh fruit improves flavour and ups the overall nutrient content. Play with textures and blend crisp and crunchy with soft and tender to create wondrous side salads that will heighten the pleasure of your meal. When it’s too hot to cook, raid the fridge and make a “kitchen sink dinner” to beat the heat (and use up glorious leftovers!).
A memorable salad is a harmonious relationship between the dressing and all the other goodies. Dressings should have enough punch to perk up subtle flavours as well as stand up to stronger ones. To achieve a balanced dressing use both vinegar and citrus (think lemon, lime, or orange). Vinegar adds a mouth-tingling acidic tang while citrus softens the bite and brightens the overall flavour, taking your salad experience to nirvana.
Add healthy fats
With their dynamic combination of fresh ingredients and generous lashings of extra-virgin olive oil, these salads are bowls of good health. Beyond the obvious benefits of a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and lean protein, it’s the extra-virgin olive oil that holds the key.
Extra-virgin olive oil is less processed than other forms of olive oil and contains high levels of nutrients. Another term to look for is “cold pressed,” which means that the oil is extracted without the use of chemicals and without high heat, therefore further preserving nutrients. In particular, olive oil contains a phenol called hydroxytyrosol, thought to contain anti-inflammatory properties and promote cardiovascular health.
Although olive oil is high in fat, keep in mind that not all fats are “bad.” Olive oil is a monounsaturated, omega-rich fat considered “healthy” as it has been shown to lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body when used instead of saturated fats. Now that’s an “extra” indeed.
- Leaves and Grains Dinner Bowl
- Melon Meets Its Match
- Summer Garden Carpaccio
- Asian Kale, Shrimp, and Avocado Salad
- Sparkling Strawberry Salad
Don’t let your summer salads go bare. Add different flavours and textures, increase fibre and protein, or raid the fridge and find some leftovers to dress them up.
To bulk it up with protein, add
- hardboiled egg
- cheese (use crumbled nuggets such as blue, feta, or goat cheese; or try shaved or grated slivers from firm cheeses such as Parmesan, Gouda, Emmental, or cheddar)
- shredded chicken, canned tuna, or salmon
- nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios
To enhance flavour, add
- red onion slivers
- chopped anchovies
- thin garlic slivers
- hot chili flakes
- pickled peppers
To augment texture with crunchy bits, add
- sesame seeds
- pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- chopped nuts
- toasted croutons
- sunflower seeds
- savoury brittle