Jennifer Chandler, author of Simply Salads (Rutledge Hill Press) and a well-known American chef, says “Anyone can create a gourmet salad by simply picking up an assortment of salad greens and adding your favourite ingredients.”
I thought I’d toss you a handful of her refreshing ideas:
“I am a big proponent of using seasonal, local ingredients when possible,” says Jennifer. “Not only is it better for the environment, but local food is fresher and just tastes better than food shipped long distances.
In the spring and summer fresh berries are often tossed in my salads, but in autumn and winter, sweet citrus fruits, grapes and tart apples take their place.
Roasted root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes) tossed with fresh baby spinach make a delicious and hearty vegetarian dish. Sautéed wild mushrooms tossed with smoky pancetta and toasted pine nuts is another favorite.
For a lighter salad, fresh orange segments tossed with fennel and Kalamata olives is a deliciously simple idea. Spinach tossed with fresh pears and blue cheese tastes yummy and looks refreshing.”
The art of the salad
For me, the beauty of composing a salad is that there really are no rules. I have a tip for you: the next time you eat out, try to figure out the ingredients of the salad. Then try it at home. Or, look up salad recipes from other countries, and experiment with it in your kitchen.
For a hearty meal, just add your favorite protein. Top the salad with a warm piece of grilled meat or fish. If you prefer a cold salad, combine shredded, chilled chicken with the greens. Toss in some of your favourite veggies, fruits or nuts to add different tastes and textures. Crumbled or grated cheeses also make flavourful additions.
My Favourite Salad
It’s got freshly roasted beet, tangy goat cheese, and a sweet citrus vinaigrette. It’s not only a delicious combination of ingredients, but the vibrant colours of this salad make a great presentation on the plate. It’s perfect for entertaining. In the winter, you can substitute a heartier green such as arugula or spinach for the tender baby lettuce.
My Favourite Dressing
You’re going to love this, because it’s so simple: Freshly squeezed juices make quick, easy and delicious salad dressings! Yes, you can “cheat” and use orange or any other juice from a carton, but there is no substitute for freshly squeezed fruit juice.
I tried the recipe below, and found it absolutely marvellous:
Lentil and Tri-Colour Pepper Salad with Punchy Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, oil, and cilantro. Mix with roasted peppers and assorted lentils that have been boiled just enough to retain their shape.
Tip: Pouring the vinaigrette over warm lentils ensures that they will soak up the maximum amount of flavor.