The Easiest Salad Ever – hint (even your kids can make it)
Many many years ago, (I won’t age myself by saying how many) when I first started out on my fitness journey; the word ‘salad’ as the west used it was alien to me. I had never eaten a ‘salad’ before, except in the form of Kachumber. (my desi friends will recognize this as the tiny chopped onion-tomato-cucumber mixture that gets served next to fried fish and curry, so that you can pretend to care about vegetables.)
Whenever we went for a wedding or event, every buffet had a ‘Green Salad’ – which ironically contained no greens. Roundels of cucumber, carrot, beetroot, onion, tomato, radish and a few stray green chilies and lime segments were arranged in a platter. No-one ever ate them, but they HAD to be there. That way you couldn’t accuse the host of killing his guests with greasy main courses.
When I enrolled as a trainee chef, I was fascinated with the sheer variety of treatments salads and preserves received. It was no longer boring veggies cut anyhow and served with lime wedges.
It didn’t take me long to discover that eating raw or lightly cooked vegetables as an entire meal could be quite delicious.
Salads weren’t just naked vegetables and lime wedges.
They were fruits and meats, nuts and crackers; seeds, fascinating oils and acids.
They were warm, crisp, crunchy, sweet; fresh, pickled and dried.
They were pasta and potatoes and meat and eggs.
They were noodles and dried fish.
I was absolutely hooked.
Fast forward to my days as a fitness and food consultant with weight loss clients.
As a food consultant, it always confused me to see crestfallen clients when I asked them to add salad to their diets. They seemed to hate the thought of salads and kept calling them ‘bland’ and ‘boring’. I simply couldn’t co-relate this to the explosions of flavor I had found them to be. Clearly they hadn’t experienced salad in technicolour like I had.
Right then, I remembered what my childhood memories of ‘salaaad’ were, and I realized that these poor people were still stuck there!
A passionate workshop highlighting soups and salads followed, one of the first I conducted.
The result was a gang of clients who understood how to hero ingredients, create and refrigerate their own salad dressings, and who began to truly enjoy eating clean.
Making salad isn’t rocket science, and it takes a simple formula to create a great base, and make a whole host of dressings.
A great salad has a few great components – a green leaf base (this can be done away with in a whole host of salads, but for now, this is basic)
Some protein, some crunch, and a great dressing. The dressings may seem like the tricky part, but fear not. I have you covered.
As a start, here is a basic salad dressing that can be stored in the fridge for a week or more – simple variations of the same recipe can make endless permutations and combinations – like a diy salad version of lego!
The first of the dressing family, and the most commonly encountered is the humble Vinaigrette. It’s the lightest of all salad dressings, and the best option if you are ordering salad off a menu. Its also ridiculously easy to make, and keeps very well in the fridge – all you have to do is shake it before you use it.
Basic Components for a simple Vinaigrette:
- 2 parts Olive oil for your base (or any oil really, as long as the flavor compliments whatever your ingredients and theme is.
- 1 part Acid (Lime juice, vinegars, citrus juices anything sour)
- Mustard, Herbs, Spices for complexity
- Some sweetener (honey, sugar, palm sugar, maple syrup etc.)
- Salt and pepper
A screw-type lid glass jar is all you need. Add everything into the jar as per these proportions, shake and pour over cut and prepped veggies.
You just need fresh ingredients and a little imagination, and you could eat a different salad every night for a month – or more; and never have to repeat a thing.
Eating healthy is really easy, all you need is to use your imagination, and have fun!
Weight Management Specialist