Taking Salads To The Next Level*
Whenever people tell me how they don’t like salads or they find them boring I always want to cook for them!
Set aside the idea that a salad has to be cold or boring as with a few simple tweaks it can be made into something satisfying and seriously tasty.
Below are a few simple ideas that I keep in mind:
There’s no need for a salad to be cold and adding in some warm roasted vegetables or sweet potatoes makes it much more filling. As a general rule I always cook extra veggies or roasted vegetables to add into my salads the next day to make dinner or lunch a quick to assemble meal. Put on podcast and get chopping for 30 minutes and you’ll be set up for a few days.
Choose Your Protein Source
To make my salads more satisfying I always add an extra vegan protein source. At the moment I am loving Tempeh which has a firm but chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste. It can be steamed, sautéed or baked and but I marinate it in Soy sauce to add more flavor before frying for about 15 minutes. It’s just as nice hot or cold so it’s really convenient to have to hand for putting together a quick packed lunch on-the-go.
Add Fermented Toppings
Think of integrating fermented foods into your salads. Of course you can ferment at home but it can be time consuming and also if you are lacking in space that can be a factor. A brand that makes incredible products is The Cultured Food Company which was set up in 2014 by Hayley Milthorpe when she qualified as a Nutritional Therapist. She started in farmers markets and grew the business organically reviving the ancient art of hand crafted raw fermented foods using the technique of wild fermentation; harnessing the naturally occurring bacteria on the vegetables and within the environment.
Located in Skibbereen, the heart of West Cork, a region renowned for artisan food producers, their products are traditionally barrel-aged, and fermented over several months. One in particular that I love is the Cultured Food Company Ruby Sauerkraut. It adds a slightly sour taste that works so well with the sweetness of sweet potatoes and it also adds a pop of colour. It contains white cabbage, red cabbage, sea salt, and cumin seeds and can be added to sandwiches or whatever you fancy - it’s very versatile.
Get Your Dressing Right
When it comes to the dressing this is what brings it all together and getting it right is important. For dressing I follow a simple ratio of 50% oil, 40% sour, 5% salt and 5% sweet.
I am always looking for interesting ways to integrate fermented foods into my diet and I recently came across The Culture Food Company Beet Kvass. Beet kvass is a fermented drink made from organic beetroot infused with organic ginger and is high in vitamin C, folate and iron, among other nutrients. Kvass also has the bonus of probiotics from the fermentation process so it supports digestion and has an immune boosting effect. There are so many ways to integrate it into your diet - you can drink it straight, as a shot or in a juice, or salad dressing. I’ve also stirred a tablespoon or two into casseroles or soup to add flavour.
The colour is absolutely incredible - just be careful as like beetroot it can stain. For this dressing I used 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons The Cultured Food Company Beet Kvass, a large pinch of salt and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Just pop it in a jam jar and shake to combine.
I always make extra so it’s ready prepped in the fridge as needed.
Add Nuts and Seeds
I always like to have a little crunch or texture in a salad, additions like this really elevate the flavour. Think of adding a handful of toasted pine nuts or cashews or hemp seeds which I am loving at the moment. Hemp seeds are particularly good for vegans as a 1 1/2 tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains five grams of protein, magnesium and iron and like flaxseeds, hemp seeds contain all ten of the essential amino acids. I always choose the shelled variety which are widely available.
*Thank you to The Cultured Food Company for collaborating with me on this piece. For more information and to find your local stockist see their Facebook page -Facebook.com/theculturedfoodco