If you’re looking for some fresh ideas for incorporating more meat-free meals into your weekly repertoire, salads are a fantastic option – especially during these warmer months. Salads really have come a long way. Once thought of as something to serve alongside your main meal, these days salads can definitely be a meal in themselves. With the right combination of ingredients, they can also be both nutritionally balanced and full of flavour. Following are some of our current favourites, which we hope you’ll try and enjoy.
Kale salad with quinoa, toasted almonds, avocado and dried cranberries
Kale has hit the super food scene in a big way and I for one have jumped on the band wagon. I make a few different kale salads but this one in particular has been a staple for me this summer, as it’s packed with both flavour and nutritional goodness. The kale provides a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while the almonds and quinoa provide a good dose of protein. The avocado and the dried cranberries bring the flavours and textures together beautifully. Mix together kale (chopped finely), some cooked quinoa, toasted slivered almonds, cubed avocado and dried cranberries. Top with a dressing of equal parts fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – yum!
Instead of stuffing falafels, salads and dips into a pita bread, for this salad you toss the fillings together (finely chopped fresh and pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, red capsicums and falafel balls), top with a tahini dressing (made from tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and enough water to get the right consistency) and serve with pita bread on the side. The key is to use good quality falafel balls. I buy mine freshly made from a Middle Eastern restaurant or you could make your own. You’ll find a recipe here: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/9609/chickpea+and+herb+falafel.
Pesto Pasta Salad
This salad is super easy to make and is always a huge hit with the whole family. Mix together cooked pasta, pesto, cherry tomatoes, sliced kalamata olives and cubed feta cheese. For the pesto you can make your own (for a recipe see: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1904/basil+pesto) or use a good quality store bought one (but not the bottled stuff as it’s just not as good).
Spiced Chick Peas with Fresh Vegetable Salad
It just wouldn’t be right to write do a blog about salad without paying homage to the king of salad himself Yottam Ottelenghi. This Israeli-born, London-based chef has pretty much single handedly changed the way we view salads. I have three of his cookbooks (Jerusalem, Plenty and Plenty More) and I cook from them regularly. His Spiced Chick Peas and Fresh Vegetable Salad is one of my all time favourites. You’ll find the recipe here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/12/spiced-chickpea-salad-vegetarian-recipe.
Caesar Salad with Boiled Eggs
I know it’s a bit old school but I’m a huge fan of a good Caesar salad. I love the combination of crunchy cos lettuce and the creamy dressing and it’s really not that hard to make at home. With the addition of boiled eggs you have a delicious meal which is also nutritionally balanced. I use Martha Stewart’s recipe which you’ll find here: http://www.marthastewart.com/342085/caesar-salad-with-hard-cooked-eggs. Just omit the anchovies from the dressing for a vegetarian option.
So, next time you’re scratching your head trying to decide what to make for Meat-Free Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday…), why not whip up one of these sensational salads? Enjoy and as always, please remember to consume with care!