It feels like we've been collectively willing it warm and I think it's finally working. The weather forecasters have promised warmer temperatures are on their way. Cue, salad season. In my book, a well created salad is the key to happy summer eating; delicious and a great way to eat an abundance of fresh produce. I'm happy to report that my obsession with salad is only getting stronger but I know not everyone shares this obsession. I have a regular chat with readers of the blog who say they get stuck in a salad rut, making the same salad on repeat. If you are finding it hard to venture beyond your usual salad, fingers crossed today's blog post will help.
I eat salads all year long, but they come into their own in the summer months. I've so many salad recipes here on the blog and through the process of recipe experimenting and testing at home, I've learned a few things a long the way to help elevate salads from average to pretty tasty - IMHO! A salad can be so many things. It's important to look beyond the traditional lettuce salad and experiment with adding different ingredients, textures and flavours. Even if you are a seasoned salad pro, we all reach a stage when we've exhausted our salad creativity and are stuck in a major salad rut.
So whether you are a salad novice or a just in need of a salad reboot, keep scrolling for five tips to help you reinvent your salad.
1. Make your dressing count
A good dressing can make or break a salad. From the simplest dressing of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper to something much more adventurous, use your dressing to elevate your salad from average to awesome. Experiment by adding ingredients like honey, maple syrup, herbs and spices, blended nuts and nut butters and different oils.... not all at once mind you!
2. Toasted nuts for a finish
Top your salad with roughly chopped toasted nuts to add some essential crunch and flavour. My favourites are hazelnuts, pine nuts and pecan nuts. For a real treat, coat your toasted pecan nuts in caramelised maple syrup first. Flaked almonds go great with broccoli salads and cashew nuts are always a welcome addition to Asian inspired salads.
3. Experiment with leafy greens
My go-to salad leaf is rocket, with spinach a close second. Identify your go-to green and then deliberately choose others to force yourself out of your comfort zone. For a slightly bitter flavour and a crispy texture, choose cos, endive or radicchio. For a milder flavour and softer leaves, choose a green from the lettuce family, like butterhead or oak leaf. And are you even Irish if you don't make a kale salad from time to time? Just make sure to remove the centre rib and massage your kale leaves in lemon juice first.
PS: Sometimes, it's ok to just forget about leafy greens altogether... hello Potato Salad!!
4. Make your salads meal-worthy
Make your salads meal-worthy by adding decent servings of protein and fat. I'm a vegetarian, so I usually opt for extras such as green lentils, quinoa, or some variety of bean. Crumbled feta and goat cheese are mainstays of most of my salads. If you are organised in the kitchen, hard boil some eggs in advance for slicing onto salads and roast some chickpeas in olive oil, salt and pepper and keep in a jar for adding major oomph to your salad.
5. Take care with fruit
I'm all for fruit in salads, but add it with care to maintain your savoury to sweet balance. Apple and pear work really well and add a lovely crunch. Watermelon with feta and red onion in the summer time is delicious. Pomegranate seeds work well with so many other flavours. Grilled peaches with goat cheese is a match made in salad heaven. Key tip here is to experiment with adding fruit to your salad but take care not to add so much that you end up with a dessert.
After all that, if you are still in need of some salad inspiration, here are some of my favourite Honest Project salad recipes and little guide for making homemade dressing: