During my pre 20s days, I avoided salad like a plague! Why? Because in the past, I was only exposed to salads made up of only green leaves. Let’s face it, green leaves just taste like ‘green leaves’ for the most part, until you smother it with dressings, right?
The word ‘salad’ originated from the Latin word ‘salata’, which means salt. During the Roman days, they would salt or brine their raw green vegetables. See, even back then, they thought it was tasteless.
Well, times have changed for me and for the culinary world of salads (I’m sure the world knew about this way before me). Salads these days are full of colours, textures and flavours from east to west.
I’ve definitely grown to love raw greens thanks to my husband of 8 years and partner of 13 years. I remembered the first time he made me a salad topped with a delicious garlic mustard dressing (a classic recipe from his mom) and various ingredients other than green leaves. My ignorance dissipated and I got married. Well, lots happened in between but for now, let’s just say, I’ve been converted.
Over time, I find myself eating salad not only just as an entree during lunch and dinner, but I’ve started ordering it as a MAIN Course! Transformation, right?
So, let me share with you some tips on having the right ingredients in your pantry and a dressing recipe that is quick and easy.
Textures and Flavours Ready in Your Pantry
The concept of making a salad should be quick and easy. Ensuring that you have certain ingredients ready in your pantry is key. Following are some ingredients that I have all the time in my pantry.
- Crunchiness / Chewiness – Any types of nuts and seeds (pine nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or pepitas , etc). I sometime crushed some gluten free crackers at the end before serving. Having canned organic chickpeas or other beans available are great for added proteins.
- Sweet – Dried fruits that are naturally sweetened (the only ones I know are prunes, cherries, inca berries and dates). Fresh apples and pears are amazing as they provide both textures and flavours. Complex Sweeteners (non-processed) such as Rice Malt Syrup or Coconut Palm Sugar. Raw honey is ok but it is high on the GI index (means that it will spike your sugar level but still better than Cane Sugar)
- Sour – Some of the dried fruits mentioned will add to the Sour taste, but I would suggest having some fresh lemons or limes in your fruit bowl. If not, I would have a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar which is the healthiest vinegar above all others.
- Salty – sea salt or my favourite ‘Herbamare’ by A.Vogel, which is pure sea salt infused with organic herbs. For dairy free, I would use Nutritional Yeast (magic sprinkle that is not baker’s yeast but high in vitamin B and adds cheesy flavour). If you’re not concern about dairy, I would suggest having either Bulgarian Feta or Pecorino Romano cheese which are made from Sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk (easier to digest, less processed and more tolerable) .
- Oils – Olive oil is my staple. I’ll sometime use Avocado oil or Sesame oil if I have them but not a ‘must have’. I’ll go into the healthy benefits of oils in another blog.
- Vegetables – since these are fresh, I wouldn’t consider these as ‘pantry ready’ ingredients but if you have a garden like me, where I grow lettuce all year round, they are always in my salads and I would just add any vegetables available in my fridge. The key here is, choose what’s in season. If it is not in season, your body is not meant to have it. I’ll go into this at a later blog.
Now, all you have to do is just throw these ingredients together, toss it and you’ve got yourself a salad ready in less than 10 minutes.
Sweet, Sour and Salty – My ‘Go To’ Dressing
2 tablespoon of Sweetener (Rice Malt Syrup, Coconut Palm Sugar or Honey)
2 Tablespoon of Oil (Olive or Sesame)
Sprinkle of salt
1 fresh lime or lemon juice (or use 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar concerntrate)
Mix them together in a bowl. Adjust the sweetness, sourness and saltiness according to your taste. Adjust the portion as you see fit. This is all about experimenting to suit you. I’m really not great at measurements since most of the time, I just throw things together according to taste.
What to do with the honey or rice malt syrup left in a jar that you can never seem to pour or scrape out?
Most of the time, when we reached the end usage of a bottle of honey or Rice Malt Syrup, rather than throwing it away, I often save them to maximise the rest of the syrup left inside. I would put all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe straight into the jar, shake it up and Voila! You’ve got the dressing ready to be poured onto a salad. You can even make it in advance and store it in the fridge. Mess free and no wastage.