Hi everyone! This post is part of a series with Love Local Food, highlighting recipes and tips for some of the awesome ingredients in their weekly local food boxes! They are a new company here in the Comox Valley with a passion for supporting local businesses. They offer no contact order and delivery to connect you with some of the amazing food vendors we have in our area.
As we head into the warmer months of summer, I find myself craving salads more often. The upcoming local food boxes have a wonderful assortment of various greens, vegetables, and herbs to use for your own salad creations. I encourage you to experiment with different ingredients to find salads you enjoy, but wanted to share some of the key elements I like to include.
If I’m just making a salad as a side dish, I tend to keep it fairly simple, with just some greens and other vegetables I have on hand with a nice dressing. But if I’m planning a salad to make a meal in itself, I like to incorporate a few other things to make it more filling and satisfying. You don’t have to add all of these elements to every salad, but here is an outline to give you some ideas.
Choose your greens for the base.
You can choose one type of leafy green vegetable, or mix and match different kinds. Here are some examples:
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
Add some type of carbs/starch.
I personally love salads with some type of grain, like quinoa, farro, or brown rice. Other options include beans or starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn.
Include a source of protein.
I find adding some protein to my salads helps make them more hearty and satisfying. Examples include:
- Marinated tofu or tempeh
Mix in plenty of other vegetables and/or fruit.
Here you can experiment with all kinds of different combinations. This will allow you to try out different flavours and textures, as well as get a variety of nutrients!
Add some fat and flavour!
Here is where the dressing comes in. A simple formula for salad dressing is to use 2-3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar (or other acidic ingredient like lemon juice), plus other ingredients for flavour (examples include fresh or dried herbs, mustard, and garlic) & a touch of something sweet. This is just a rough guideline, but depending on your ingredients, you can just adjust things to taste – no need to be super precise!
Not only does the fat add flavour and satisfaction to your salad, it will also help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K. One example I love to make is extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar + mustard + dried basil, oregano & pepper + a dash of maple syrup.
Play around with textures.
This isn’t necessarily something extra you need to add – you can get a good mix of different textures from the previous ingredients, such as the chewiness of some grains with the crispness of some of the veggies. You can also try adding some crunch with nuts, seeds, or croutons.