It’s the last Monday of the month and the last Substantial Salad post. So what constitutes a salad anyways? This Meatless Monday we dissect the components that make up this vegetable-centric dish.
If you were to do a pie chart (not pie!) of salad ingredients it would be half vegetables, one-quarter protein, one-eighth dressing and one-eighth extras. This formula allows you to get creative and be flexible in how you compose your salad. Choose produce that is in season, is locally grown (within reason) and is whole and unprocessed. Make your own dressing (it’s not rocket science) and throw in enough extras for pizzazz and some protein to round out the macro nutrients (i.e. fat, carbohydrates and protein).
There is a plethora of vegetables from which to choose but leafy greens are the popular and ideal choice to form the base of any salad. Depending on what you choose, leafy greens are often nutrient-dense and contain anti-carcinogenic compounds. Once the salad greens have been chosen, pick other ingredients that are complementary.
Nuts and seeds go well with fruit; legumes and grains make nice bedfellows; Swiss chard and quinoa are botanically related
Using a variety of brightly coloured vegetables and a handful of quality vegetarian protein you can’t go wrong. Include some form of grain (rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa etc) along with the dressing and extras and your salad will be golden.
You can get fancy with the dressing but a simple vinaigrette is easy to make and provides the flavour and fat needed to please your palate and mediate fat-soluble vitamins in the digestion process. A vinaigrette is an oil and vinegar emulsion in a 3:1 ratio. Try pumpkin seed, camelina or a good quality olive oil and whisk in a nice balsamic vinegar (white or dark), apple cider or raspberry vinegar. The extras can be added to the vinaigrette (e.g. salt, pepper, garlic, shallots, herbs, spices, vegetarian/vegan cheese) or mixed in with the salad.
Salads don’t have to be side-show freaks on the dinner table. They can be adaptable to the seasons, your specific tastes and to everyone’s dietary needs. Go green and make your salad the main.