How to Assemble a Hearty Salad

The wonderful thing about making a salad is that it’s a relaxed, stress-free way of cooking, with endless possibilities for customization. Here are some steps to consider to build a great salad every time!

1. Pick your leading vegetables

Do you have any vegetables in your fridge that should be used up? If you’re going shopping, think about what’s cheap, in season and abundant in the shops and markets.
Here are some ways to use your principal vegetable:
  • Raw and shaved with a speed peeler to give it delicacy and shape
  • Roasted in a hot oven until intensely sweet and caramelized
  • Steamed or blanched, keeping it super-fresh and vibrant
  • Griddled or charred, imparting a deep, rich smokiness
Pay attention to building contrast in color and texture here. Consider whether a few different-colored vegetables would make the dish look extraordinarily inviting. If your leading vegetable is fluffy sweet potato, you could throw in some crunchy greens like sugar snap peas rather than steamed carrots, which offers a similar vibe to the potato.

2. A filling base

Next, consider what’s going to be the hearty, filling, protein-packed portion of the meal which keeps you happy and satisfied.
Whatever base you pick here will help guide which flavor direction the salad goes in. Chicken goes with almost any salad combination, whereas quinoa, beans, or seafood may call for different flavorings.

3. Some interesting contrast

Throw in something unexpected here: a tangy pickle, a bitter leaf, a salty aged cheese, or a surprising pop of sweetness from a torn Medjool date. It’s these original touches that keep every forkful unique.

4. Crunch and added texture

Some crushed seeds, crispy chickpeas, a scattering of toasted nuts – these are all quick, easy ways to elevate your salad into a complete, satisfying meal. Try toasting whole spices to awaken their aromas; it’s a brilliant way to add instant depth and interest.

5. A memorable dressing to bring it all together

Sometimes all you need is the simplest drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, pinch of sea salt and squeeze of lemon to pull your beautiful ingredients together. At other times, a vibrant mix of chili, fish sauce, and lime juice is what’s needed to elevate a dish.
The key with dressing is to taste regularly. Keep stirring, tweaking and tasting until you’re happy with the balance of flavors, and then toss it through the dish and taste again. It’s these small details that will transform a good meal into an exceptional one.
Article adapted from Books for Better Living.

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