Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: How To Build The Perfect Salad

I like 'salad'. Although it has been pointed out by pretty much any who has seen my *ahem* expansive lunch time salad bowls and boxes that salad is a fairly inadequate description. My bad. So if you think salad is boring, or it can only be exciting if you buy a super expensive pre-made one from a to-go chain, here's some inspiration for building the perfect salad.

Thank you @ikeauk for making the most perfect lunch boxes for #aldesko days! #joyofstorage #workinglunch #salad
Al desko salad at it's very best- both boxes came from Ikea, the segmented one is genius, and they were still in store a couple of weeks ago. 

1. The Leaf

Iceberg, romaine, spinach, watercress, lambs leaf, rocket, kale, oak leaf, radicchio, endive...

There are lots of different types of lettuce, find some you like- mix them up, buy seasonal mixes or grow your own- salad leaves are very easy to grow, and the grow quickly (3 weeks, ish). If you're already bored of lettuce before you start, then you're not really in the right frame of mind to enjoy this...

2. The Vegetables

Depending on the continent I'm inspired by, the vegetable element to my salad changes, but the cool thing is that you can make up a bowl full of something with some awesome flavours and mix and match with other components so you don't have to eat the same thing every single day. Some vegetables really lend themselves to warm salads as well, perfect as the weather starts to turn.

  • Peppers, onions, courgettes & tomatoes roasted in harissa paste 
  • Shredded cabbage, apple & carrot mixed with a drop of sesame oil & a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and a tiny splash of soy sauce for seasoning
  • Carrots roasted with ginger, soy & a touch of curry powder
  • Chopped tomatoes mixed with a chopped avocado, salt, lemon juice, a splash of sriracha sauce/hot sauce and for an added treat, slice the corn of griddled corn cobs
  • Tomatoes and aubergines roasted with garlic cloves, basil, and salt & pepper to taste
Made a Vietnam inspired salad but damn it's ugly on the plate once it has the all important tamarind & soy dressing on it. Raw red cabbage, carrots, cucumber & apple plus soy, tamarind, sriracha & sesame oil to dress.
Asian salad coming together

3. The Protein

I eat quite a lot of protein- a moderate to low carb & higher protein diet is the sweet spot balance that works for me, but no matter your thoughts on different types of diet/ lifestyle, proteins add awesomeness to a salad and are an essential nutrient that we all need regardless of proportion. Here are some of my favourites, apologies to any vegans as you are not well catered for in this section, not because there aren't lots of great sources of vegan protein, but purely because I don't follow a vegan diet and therefore it's not something I'm well educated on...

  • Chicken or turkey marinated in 1 teaspoon soy, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon grated ginger/ginger paste, 1 generous teaspoon peanut butter
  • Eggs- crack 2 eggs (per serving you want to make) into a bowl and beat, add salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika and a sprinkle of cheese- grated cheddar is nice or crumbled feta. Add the whole lot to a frying pan with a metal handle, cook on high heat on the hob until the edges start to cook, the place in a hot oven for 10-15 mins until whole pan is cooked to your liking. You could also add any leftover meat or fish from a previous meal (we often add leftover roasted chicken to this with a pinch of paprika or a shake of garlic powder)
  • Prawns mixed with lemon juice and half a teaspoon of tom yum paste
  • A tin of tuna mixed with the avocado 'mayo' (blend ripe avocado with a natural yoghurt, salt, a splash of white wine vinegar)
  • A couple of simple boiled eggs to your taste- I like mine to be slightly soft in the middle. 

Lunch. Eaten in stages because phone calls and a zillion messages on the business phones. Can it be 1900 already please?! If what I eat intrigues you, I posted a 'what I eat in a day' blog last week. Search Chloe Likes To Eat or click link in bio. #workin
Can I get a hell yeah for the most perfect semi-soft boiled eggs? 

4. The Texture

A stereotype of salad is 'soggy', and aside the obvious dressing issue, not including varied texture in a dish makes it dull. Some of my favourite texture additions or switches are:

  • Toasted mixed seeds- both Aldi & Lidl do a great mix of sunflower, pumpkin & sesame that comes in 70g packs (otherwise known as not needing to eat the same thing for days)
  • Roasted Chickpeas- rinse and dry off a tin of chickpeas, coat lightly in olive oil, salt & any other spices you fancy, roast for 20-30 mins. Allow to cool completely before storing or they go soggy
  • Shredded raw cabbage and carrot make a great crunch, especially with Asian flavours
5. The Dressing

It seems as though dressing is the scourge of the earth sometimes, and it could be sabotaging a balanced diet if it's high in sugar, artificial fats or sweeteners. As ever, it's about what's in it. A great dressing can completely change a salad, these ones are my favourite and are easy to make or find: 

  • SE Asian: 1 teaspoon each soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil & honey, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger & 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • North African: 1 teaspoon harissa paste mixed with 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt 
  • Mexican: 1 tablespoon tomato puree let down with 1 teaspoon water, mix with half teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Garlic avocado: 2 cloves crushed garlic mixed 1 tablespoon lemon juice with a blended ripe avocado, a pinch of salt & pepper, let down with a tablespoon of water to desired dressing consistency
Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.
Asian Salad: spinach at the bottom, vegetables, SE Asian dressing, topped with avocado, prawns & toasted seeds. 

Salad perfection. Go on, you know you want to. 
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