Tasty, hearty, colourful salads that you can prepare in advance
Beautiful fresh ingredients, varied textures and a whole spectrums of sweet, sharp or creamy dressings to experiment with. I love salads! However, all too often I find that they can fall short because they’re just not filling enough and I’m left wanting more!
A couple of months ago New Norm started supplying a lovely little plant-based café in the Grassmarket with fresh salads for their chiller – they're called Pumpkin Brown, check them out next time you’re in the area. This meant we had to get creative as we needed to create new and delicious salads every week to keep things fresh for their customers.
Needless to say I’ve learned a lot along the way about what makes a good salad, so I thought i'd share some of my learnings with you.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking; leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, a bit of hummus or something and volia(!)...there we have it a completely uninspired and unfulfilling salad. So here's my top four considerations to help you create tasty, hearty salads that won't leave you wanting more.
- Filling – for me this is number one, what’s the point in eating a meal if it’s not going to fill you up. So make sure there’s a pulse, grain or fibrous vegetables in there e.g. lentils, buckwheat, sweet potatoes. If it’s all lettuce leaves and tomatoes then it's not going to get you very far.
- Texture – there’s nothing worse than ploughing through an endless bowl of quinoa, no matter how filling it is. Varied textures will make your salad a much more exciting eat. If your base is lentils why not add some roast florets of cauliflower to add a bite. Seeds and nuts are great for adding texture too.
- Colour – from a nutritional perspective we should always be striving to eat a rainbow to get a wide array of nutrients into our bodies. But nutrition aside for a second, you should be excited by what you’re about to eat and how it looks is a huge part of this.
- Will it stand the test of time – for me a huge problem with salads is that they go soggy and floppy within hours of making them. I hate food waste so this is a real deal breaker. But if you're willing to break the mould a little bit there are so many delicious salad recipes that you can prep in advance and store in the fridge for a couple of days. Rather than always starting with fresh leaves, think about using roast veg or pulses and grains as your base ingredient.
So next time you fancy prepping some salads for lunch but are put off because they won't keep, refer back to this little checklist and you'll been cooking up a delicious, hearty salad in no time!
My favourite salad recipe at the moment
I’ve been eating a lot more salad than usual lately, what with trialling new recipes, eating leftovers and happy accidents! So yesterday lunchtime I was tucking into my lunchtime salad and exclaimed;
‘Wow, this salad is delicious…Yum, the best I’ve ever eaten!’
Given that I made it myself I quickly realised this was terribly un-british of me and I should probably pipe down!
I don’t know if I was just particularly hungry yesterday or if I really have struck gold with this one, but I think it’s pretty damn delicious so thought I’d share the recipe and see what you think. Give it a go at home, it lasts a couple days in the fridge. Or get yourself down to Pumpkin Brown and you’ll find it in their chiller available to sit in or takeaway.
Pear, pomegranate & squash salad
Ingredients (makes 4)
- 2 medium butternut squash – peeled & cubed into bitesize chunks
- 4 medium conference pears – cored & cubed into bitesize chunks
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (i use frozen they last for ages)
- ½ cup walnuts – roughly chopped
- Small bag of washed rocket
- Ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari
- ¼ tsp garlic granules
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Peel & chop butternut squash into bitesize cubes
- Roast in a hot oven at 200 degrees for 30-40 mins, until soft
- Leave to cool
- Meanwhile, core & chop pears into bitesize chunks
- De-seed pomegranate if using fresh
- Roughly chop walnuts
- Add all dressing ingredients into an empty jar and shake
- Once the squash has cooled add the squash, pear, pomegranate & walnuts into a bowl.
- Add dressing & gently mix – you can store it in the fridge like this for up to two days.
- Add rocket just before serving.
- If you want the leaves to hold up a bit longer you can substitute rocket for kale, the kale will last mixed into the dressed salad for two days in the fridge.
Comment below if you try it, would love to hear what you think.