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Super Summer Salads
Use Fresh Local Produce
So many reasons to eat salads
Many of us may have memories of a bit of limp lettuce and tomato on the side of the plate and for some this may be why they never really think of salads as a meal. Some of the more enlightened may see salads as an acceptable lunch but find it hard to think of them as a main meal but in fact they can be a wonderful supper or dinner meal, nutritious, colourful and easy to prepare.
Many salads do indeed have lettuce as a base but it is not vital and of course there is such a variety of lettuce and salad leaves at this time of year that everyone can find something they like.
They are also a great way of making sure that you have your five (or as more recent advice suggests, seven) portions of fruit and vegetables each day, and it is possible to also make sure that they are colourful which usually ensures that they contain a good range of nutrients. Where possible use fresh produce, I usually like to find locally produced food available from local farm shops or markets. But it is also fun to think about growing your own. Salad leaves of all varieties are easy to grow in tubs or pots or try a living lettuce in a pot which just keeps on growing as you cut leaves to eat. In fact I have also grown tomatoes, courgettes, French beans, and chillies in pots in my tiny garden.
For more on growing produce in pots have a look at the video.
Growing your own salad
Ingredients - Avocado Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
- one large handful lettuce leaves, try a variety until you find some favourites
- quarter of a medium sized onion, finely chopped
- half of a medium sized avocado, sliced or chopped
- one large tomato, sliced or chopped
- 50g Mozzarella Cheese, chopped or crumbled
- Wash all ingredients
- Put in bowl large enough to toss
- Add dressing (see below) season, mix and serve
Avocado Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
One of the things I love about this salad is its simplicity and the way that you can change how it looks simply by slicing the tomatoes and avocado rather than chopping them and using round Mozzarella balls or round slices of mozzarella. I usually go for a simple vinaigrette but occasionally I use a balsamic vinaigrette. It's great to serve on its own or with a crusty baguette or some soft wholemeal bread.
Avocado Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
|Serving size: 1 large bowlful|
|Calories from Fat||333|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 37 g||57%|
|Saturated fat 12 g||60%|
|Unsaturated fat 21 g|
|Carbohydrates 20 g||7%|
|Sugar 1 g|
|Fiber 8 g||32%|
|Protein 20 g||40%|
|Cholesterol 59 mg||20%|
|Sodium 499 mg||21%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Chick Pea and Egg Salad
This has to be one of my favourites. Simply drain a tin of chick peas, allow about a third of a tin per person add these along with 2 hard boiled eggs to salad ingredients of your choice. I would usually start with lettuce tomato, onion of some type, my favourite is red onion, and cucumber but you can use your own favourites.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl, add a dressing of your choice, season and serve.
It is a filling substantial salad - a great lunch on a summer day.
Chick pea and Egg Salad
Mixed Bean Salad
This is another firm favourite and again is a hearty salad full of fibre. Tis works well without lettuce but if you want leaves that's fine too. Simply drain a couple of tins of beans, try butter beans, borlotti beans, black eyed beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans. You could also add some blanched broad beans and I think sweet corn works well. Mix all these together with some chopped onion, tomato and cucumber and dress with your favourite dressing. I like to add some chopped fresh basil or coriander to this salad.
Mixed Bean Salad
For a basic vinaigrette simply mix 3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Then add salt and pepper. But there are loads of variations try some of the following
- add some crushed garlic
- add mustard, I use wholegrain mustard, and a teaspoon of honey is great with this
- use lemon juice instead of vinegar
- add any herb chopped finely - though I usually sprinkle chopped or whole leaf herbs on top of the salad rather than add in the dressing
- Try adding a few chilli flakes or use a mixture of olive oil and chilli oil
- For a Caesar dressing mix 50 mls olive oil with 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and garlic and Dijon mustard.
- For those times when you are wanting to cut down on calories try simply adding balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to the salad with some salt and pepper and maybe some fresh herbs.
Here are some more ideas but then it is great just to add what you fancy and experiment a little. Change ingredients depending on the likes and dislikes of those who will be eating the salad.
A great favourite, chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion then add olives and feta cheese. I also like to add a few capers to the dressing. This is one salad that I don't usually make with lettuce but others prefer it with lettuce.
Artichoke and Parmesan Salad
Quarter the artichokes from one tin and add to lettuce with some spring onions, chopped, and some cucumber. Then add some shaved parmesan.
Pear walnut and stilton salad
Use some crisp lettuce as a base (romaine works well) and add chopped fresh pear, a few walnuts and some crumbled pieces of stilton. I like the honey and mustard dressing with this salad.
Mix some lettuce, tomatoes, onion and cucumber in a bowl then add olives, capers, tuna strips, hard boiled eggs and a few small new potatoes. Green beans work well too and of course anchovies are traditional but personally I leave them out. Salmon also works really well and you don't have to add potato - that is the beauty of making your own salads your own way.
A bit of a classic and I make my own version by adding quorn instead of chicken to lettuce, cucumber and spring onion. Then add some croutons and parmesan shavings - delicious.
Summer Vegetable salad
Add peas or mange tout, sliced French beans and maybe some asparagus to a salad base of your choice.
Fruits and nuts
As well as fruit salad, a masterpiece in it's own right, try adding some fruit to any salad, maybe pineapple with ham, some chopped apple with celery, or some pomegranate seeds to any salad of your choosing. I also love adding a few nuts, almonds, pine nuts or brazils all work well.
Add some bacon or pancetta, this goes particularly well with avocado in my opinion and I am a big fan of beetroot, and pickled onions but there really is not end to how creative you can be.
Also think about adding some courgette shavings - uncooked but delicious providing it is sliced or shaved in super thin slices. Broccoli which has been blanched for about 3 -4 minutes in boiling slated water is also a vegetable I like to add to salads