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Making a simple salad with radishes, green onion, cherry tomatoes and lettuce
There are endless combinations of ingredients that can be used in a salad, so many that some people might not know where to start!
If you're not sure what to put in your salad, or are just looking for some new ideas, read on! This article discusses a good, clean tasting, and simple salad recipe that can be used as a starting point for those wishing to start making their own salads at home.
Preparing the ingredients:
Radishes add beautiful color and appearance to salads. They are believed by some to aid in digestion and have medicinal properties. The radishes for this salad can be chopped into disc or wedge shapes, or they can be quartered for more pronounced flavor and crunchy texture. You will likely use only 1 to 3 radishes for most smaller salads, but you can use as many as you'd like!
Green onions can add a pleasant flavor to your salad, giving it just a slight bite. The green onion is usually best finely chopped, and the lower portion can even be cut in half before chopping to spread out the pieces for more even flavor. Scallions or bunching onions can be used interchangeably with green onions. If you don't have access to green onions, try replacing with thinly sliced red onion or 1 to 2 finely minced garlic cloves for similar effect. Use 1 to 2 green onions for smaller salads.
Cherry tomatoes can add a sweet contrasting flavor and color to salads. Though often served whole, they are usually better halved or quartered, as sometimes the juice will spray from whole tomatoes when bitten or stabbed with a fork. Use 3 to 5 cherry tomatoes for a smaller salad.
The lettuce can be chopped with a knife or broken into pieces by hand. For salads, it is usually suitable to have about the same amount of lettuce as all of the other ingredients combined. This helps spread out the flavor, but you can really use as much or as little as you would like.
Completing the salad:
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. For a simple dressing, you can use oil and vinegar. Red wine vinegar is most popular for salad in Italy, but many health oriented people in America think that raw unfiltered apple cider is the healthiest choice. Balsamic vinegar is also another popular choice.
Why vinegar? For one, vinegar helps to tone down the pungent flavor of foods such onion or garlic, and will somewhat neutralize the spicy flavor of some radishes. To utilize this quality in vinegar, you can put these more overpowering foods in your bowl first and let them sit in the vinegar (and other dressing ingredients) while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Vinegar and oil dressings are also thought by some to increase the digestibility of raw foods. Coating vegetables in these dressings starts a marinating process that will eventually wilt your vegetables if your salad is left to sit for a few hours. Some people like when their salads are wilted like this, but for most purposes, you are best to dress the salad just prior to eating.
A third dressing ingredient can optionally be used to add a rich flavor to your salads. This is tamari sauce, which is a traditional Japanese soy sauce that tastes much different than standard soy sauce eaten in America today. Adding tamari to oil and vinegar on your salad creates a trifecta dressing that can be used for every day eating and never become boring. It is simple, easy to use, and fairly inexpensive.
The downside to using Tamari is that it adds more liquid to your salad, and the salt in the tamari will draw liquid out of the vegetables making your salad more watery. If this is a problem for you, a possible solution would be to bring the dressed salad to the table in a large bowl, and when it is time to eat, serve it on a smaller plate for eating leaving the liquid in the bowl. Otherwise, you may just want to try adding salt and maybe cracking some black peppercorns over your salad in place of tamari to make it more appetizing.
When making your salad, use any kind of lettuce that you would like. Though it has gotten a bad name in recent times, iceberg lettuce is perfectly okay to use. It is tender, mild and easy to digest, and is even believed to have medicinal or beneficial properties by some people (though all lettuces are medicinal). Boston lettuce is another tender lettuce, and some of the tenderest and most delicious lettuces you can eat are grown in home gardens. These lettuces usually are not suitable to sell in the grocery store because of their more delicate nature.
Try adding or subtracting any number of ingredients listed above for your future salad creations. Cucumbers are a salad classic, and they can even be served as a salad by themselves chopped up and dressed with oil and either vinegar, tamari or all three together.
If you don't eat salads on a regular basis, try experimenting. When eating hearty and sustaining meals, try eating a salad, and then try eating the same or a similar meal without a salad, and see if you notice any difference in how you feel. Whether it is the extra nutrients or the medicinal quality of salad vegetables, there's something to salads which seems to lighten a heavy meal. Perhaps that is the reason why they are eaten in so many cultures. If you give it a try, leave a comment with your conclusions. I would love to hear your results!
A final note: people that have had a portion of their intestines surgically removed may not be able to digest salads and other raw vegetables as easily. Our intestines are extra long to help us digest vegetable matter, so if you have difficulty digesting raw vegetables, you may need to chew your salads very thoroughly or limit the amount that you eat.