Three New Year’s Side Salads (for salad virgins)…

I know that more than a few of you are probably aiming to lose a few pounds this year, which means that more than a few of you will be starting to consider the dreaded “S word”: salad. I have to put it out there, not many people make a proper salad. When people moan they’re bored of eating healthily, they usually haven’t been adventurous enough with their food. Salad is always cast as a few limp iceberg lettuce leaves, half a tomato, and maybe some cucumber if you’re lucky, with a few shreds of processed cold meat. That’s not on guys. Salads should contain leaves that have flavour, like kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, or some gem lettuces cut in half and whacked onto a griddle pan for a few minutes to get a charred barbeque taste. They can contain pomegranate seeds or oranges or mangoes for some sweetness. Beetroot, pepper, courgette and, yes, tomatoes. They can be warm or cold- roast your veg to have a warming winter salad in place of a cool summer-time one. Have grains like rice or quinoa in them- even cous cous. Some can have chopped up new potatoes, sweet potato, or root veg like parsnips or carrots according to what’s in the shops.  Roast them with some honey or maple syrup and herbs before assembling your dish. The great thing about salads is that you can change them up according to season: in winter throw on the root veg, pomegranate seeds, and kale. In summer change it up and use strawberries, watermelon, black pepper, broccoli, and balsamic with those gem lettuces. I have a friend who dismisses salads as “boring” or goes “I only eat them in summer- there isn’t enough you can do with them in winter”. And this pisses me off, because for an intelligent girl, that’s a highly ignorant comment.
Carnivores: you don’t have to go all out veggie or vegan. Throw on leftover chicken, pork, beef, or fish. Use canned fish if you cant be arsed cooking. If you fancy trying out a veggie alternative, then top it with boiled or poached eggs, cheeses like feta or mozzarella, baked tofu, lentils, chickpeas, or kidney beans
 
I’ll be giving you some great salad ideas according to the seasons as the months go by, but today we’re looking at simple side salads for all of you salad virgins out there. These are to go alongside a meal where you already have the carbohydrate aspect and protein aspect planned: I had them with brown rice and salmon. Feel free to swap this up for chicken in a sauce or just with seasoning, new potatoes, sweet potato or regular potato wedges, a hunk or wholemeal bread, a lean steak…whatever you’re feeling. Each one requires minimal prep, and only 3 or 4 ingredients. All three of the salads use some of the same ingredients and so are ideal to serve together alongside a meal, or you can use one of these salads as the base for a meal for one…
Beetroot, Orange & Feta Salad
  • 3 beetroots from a packet, drained (buy the cooked beetroot without any pickling, sugar, salt, or seasoning. The rest of the ingredients will provide plenty of flavour)
  • 1 large orange, peeled
  • Small handful of mint leaves
  • Spinach
  • 100g feta, or “Greek-style” if you shop at Asda like me, cheese.
Slice the beetroot and orange, chop the feta into chunks, shred the mint leaves, mix, and place onto a bed of spinach. Top with black pepper if desired. Done.

Tomato, Onion & Cucumber Salad
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 lime
  • Mint leaves to taste
Chop everything finely, mix, squeeze the lime over it, mix again. Done.
Simple Garlic, Herb, Mushroom & Spinach Salad
  • 25 button mushrooms, each chopped in half
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1-2tbsp pine-nuts
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2tsp dried Italian herbs
Add the pine-nuts to the pan and over a medium heat toast for a minute or so, until golden. Add in the garlic and mushrooms on a low heat, and cook until golden. Add in the herbs, and then the spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted, toss about, and then throw onto a plate.

 

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