Come spring, the stalls in farmers markets are brimming with fresh, locally grown vegetables bursting with flavor and color. Among these healthy delights are fire red tomatoes, cool green cucumbers, and sunny yellow peppers. These are just the right ingredients to create fresh and wholesome salads.
There was a time when salads were simply considered a side dish, but not anymore. Not only do most menus feature a salad list now, but also some salads play a main role in a number of restaurants. Some locations serve them as a main dish, and many people will opt for a salad as their lunch or dinner.
Salads have come a long way over the years, and are synonymous with healthy eating. They are popular worldwide, so you can just imagine the variety of ingredients and recipes that are out there. Salads range from simple to exotic, from a side dish to a main course and from a sandwich filling to a dessert component. You can have them any time of the day, or for any course of your meal, just by tossing together different ingredients. The recipes that follow will give you an idea of what I mean!
Here are some basic rules to keep in mind while making your salad: Always use the freshest ingredients. Make sure you wash all greens, vegetables and fruits thoroughly. Use top quality products, whether it’s toppings or ingredients, for salad dressings. Add the salad dressing right before you serve it to keep a crunchy consistency (unless you are making a marinated salad). Mix and match ingredients to get the greatest nutritional value, especially if the salad is a meal. Last but not the least; adjust seasonings according to taste, as some can be too strong or too bland depending on individual palates.
Simple fruit and vegetable salad: 1 cup prepared and cubed mixed fruit of your choice (Apples, pears, mangos, pineapples, melons etc.) 1 cup prepared and cubed vegetables of your choice (Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots etc.) ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or black pepper powder ½ teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon powdered sugar 1-2 teaspoons lime juice Salt to taste 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
In a bowl, mix the fruit and the vegetables. Add all of the dry ingredients and lime juice, then mix. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
Twisted pasta salad: 1 cup fusilli pasta, prepared al dente 1 tablespoon boiled peas 1 tablespoon chopped celery 1 tablespoon chopped cucumber 1 tablespoon chopped green onions (with the greens) 2 cups shredded lettuce
For the dressing: 1 cup plain yogurt, strained 1 cup cool whip ½ teaspoon mustard powder ¼ teaspoon black pepper Adjust the tartness to your liking by adding vinegar if the yogurt is not sour enough. Add salt to taste.
In a bowl, assemble all salad ingredients except the lettuce and dressing. Mix together all ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl. Then add the dressing to the salad and chill for at least an hour. Serve atop a bed of shredded lettuce, and enjoy.
Italian salad: ½ cup cubed cucumber ½ cup cubed tomatoes ¼ cup cubed carrots ¼ cup sliced red onions ¼ cup cubed and shallow fried eggplant (optional) 1 tablespoon pitted olives 1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
For the dressing: 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 2-3 cloves garlic peeled ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder ½ teaspoon dried oregano 1 -2 teaspoon sugar Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix all ingredients for the salad except the basil. Blend all ingredients for the dressing in a blender. Just before serving, add the dressing to the salad, mix, and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve garnished with finely chopped basil.
Marinated Chinese salad: 1 cup sliced cucumber 1 cup sliced cabbage
For the marinade: 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 tablespoon lime juice 1 teaspoon soy sauce 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander ½ tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves ½ teaspoon finely chopped cayenne chilli 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix all ingredients for the marinade thoroughly. Adjust seasoning according to taste. Then add cucumbers and cabbage. Mix everything together and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.