I’m a massive salad fan – a salad enthusiast, if you will. Those who know me know that salad is my favourite food, and have probably thought to themselves “I wonder how someone could have such ridiculous taste”. Well let me tell you. Salad is tasty. Salad is love. Salad is life.
There are 3 key factors to the perfect salad:
#1: Buy top quality produce. The #1 mistake I’ve seen people make with salad is to be stingy in terms of quality of ingredients. This will not do. Like a good steak, all the ingredients in a salad are incredibly exposed, so you can’t get away with things in the same way you can for say roast vegetables or soup. Vegetables should ideally be bought the day you’re planning on making the salad, or at the very earliest a couple days in advance, and should be top quality – I’m talking Taste the Difference, on the vine, organic. It ain’t cheap, but upping your salad game ain’t cheap.
Make sure to invest in good quality olive oil and balsamic as well! Some even say olive oil should have the same status as wine, and that we should appreciate a good vintage in the same way (I don’t know who these people are, but I’m told they exist).
#2: Think big, chop small. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been put off a salad because the chef has tried to cut corners by not cutting the vegetables into small enough pieces. Due to the nature of a salad, most of the enjoyment comes from the combination of various flavours. It’s pretty simple: the smaller the pieces, the more different flavours you can fit into one spoonful. The biggest sucker for this is lettuce leaves – for some reason people think it’s acceptable to include WHOLE LETTICE LEAVES in a salad. No thanks.
At the same time, don’t hold back on quantities of ingredients. I’m talking an entire pack of tomatoes, a whole cucumber, 2-3 peppers, an entire jar of olives, a whole avocado, etc. – more is more when it comes to salad (true story).
#3: Don’t try to make it something it’s not. Chicken does not belong in a salad. Bacon does not belong in a salad. Half a tonne of mayonnaise does not belong in a salad (I’m looking at you, Marshall Eriksen. Also the abomination that is coleslaw.)
Don’t try to make a salad something it’s not, or you’ll just end up disappointed that you’re eating a salad and not a burger.** The primary ingredient in salad should be VEGETABLES (and yes, I’m talking in the culinary sense not the biological sense). This is what I like to call the “base layer” of a salad. On top of that, we can add the following layers: Pickled vegetables for a bit of flavour, cheese if you’re not going vegan, fruit if you’re a weirdo, carbs for comfort, and nuts and seeds – although people choosing this option tend to be health nuts (ha ha). For the record, I advocate salads primarily for pleasure, with health being a (still important) secondary consideration.
Suggestions for ingredients by layer:
Base Layer | tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers of all colours, red onion, spring onion, avocado, rocket, lettuce in various forms, fried mushrooms, roast pepper, roast aubergine, butternut squash, spinach, kale, radishes, carrots, asparagus, watercress, parsley
Carbs | couscous, pasta, quinoa, orzo,
Adding Interest | green olives, picked cucumbers, gherkins, jalapeños, sundried tomatoes, chilli, marinated artichoke hearts
Cheese because cheese | mozzarella, feta, parmesan, goat’s cheese
Things That Don’t Really Belong in a Salad But Sometimes Work | pomegranate, blood orange, blueberries, dried cranberries
Trying To Be Healthy | pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
Final Touches | olive oil, lemon, balsamic, herbs, salt & pepper
See my all time top 3 favourite salads below:
In Third Place: Pasta Salad | fusilli, green pesto, fresh tomato, avocado, mozzarella.
In Second Place: Couscous Salad | couscous, tomato, cucumber, spring onion, pomegranate, feta, lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil.
In First Place: Everything Salad | tomato, cucumber, red & orange peppers, gem lettuce, avocado, fried mushrooms, spring onion, green olives, feta (can remove to make vegan), lemon, pepper, balsamic, olive oil.
See the video for my perfect Everything Salad below: (Note the sexy saxophone music in the background. Solid choice, me.)
Special mention: Quick Salad (perfect for lunch at home) | 1 pack tomatoes, 1 whole avocado, half a pack feta, olive oil, salt, balsamic.
Happy Salading – let me know if there are any particular ingredient combinations that hit the spot for you!!
**DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am aware that people are free to put whatever they want into their salad. This post reflects my opinion and my opinion alone – don’t let the fact that I’m obviously right sway you from you “salad” full of cold meats, condiments, and gummy bears.