It’s not easy to be sitting on your bed and think how to make your every day salad more interesting. That’s why I thought it would be a nice idea to give you 5 salads as a model and also tell you how you can vary them up depending on what you can find that day in the market / supermarket. I’m also recommending a few dressings for each salad, all of which you can find on my post 10 dressings to liven up your salads.
DOWNLOAD THE PDF WITH ALL THESE RECIPES + THE 10 DRESSINGS TO LIVEN UP YOUR SALADS BY CLICKING HERE: DOWNLOAD
First let’s go through some of the basic questions I get asked a lot 🙂
- How long do they last? You can have a salad ready but always try to add in the last minute the lettuce / leaves / avocado. Also if you’re making a dressing with lemon in it squeeze it on the last minute because it goes bitter with time. Anything you have cooked (chicken, veggies, egg) lasts 3-4 days max in the fridge (of course if you see fungus on the next day don’t eat it!). Chopped raw veggies can last up to 5 days. Therefore, you can make your meal prep for the whole week on Sunday considering that from Monday to Thursday you will be able to eat ingredients cooked on that day but for Friday you’re going to have to cook more or eat only raw ingredients.
- Why is it popular nowadays to keep your salads in jars? The good thing about jars is that, specially if they have a silicone seal like the ones I used they’re really good at maintaining the freshness of the vegetables and leaves for a longer time.
- Do I have to eat it from the jar? If you’re planning on eating the salad from the jar then I recommend that you mix all the ingredients together before putting them inside (unlike the pictures below) because otherwise you’ll get one ingredient per bite. However if you’re taking the jar somewhere where you can borrow a plate or you’re taking one with you, then you can turn the jar over onto the plate.
- Can I put the dressing inside the jar as well? Yes and no. You can if you know that your jar isn’t going to tilt. If it’s definitely not tilting then add the dressing at the bottom of the jar and on top of that an ingredient that’s very watery (so it doesn’t absorb it) like tomato or cucumber or something fatty like avocado, cheeses, nuts. On top of that you can put whatever you want. Before you eat it turn the jar on its head so the dressing can really distribute to the whole salad. If you think it’s going to tilt (e.g. in a gym bag) it’s best to take the dressing on the side because the leaves wilt if they’re in contact with the dressing after a while.
- What container can I buy so that the salad stays fresh? You only need to be careful that it has a good seal. First because we want the food to stay fresh and second because we don’t want salad juices all over our work / car / fridge. After that it’s up to you how pretty you want the container / jar to be. I like the ones on these pictures because they have a clip top and that makes me feel certain nothing will spill.
- Do I have to stick to these ingredients? NEVER! The idea is that you’re inspired and make better salads for yourself and your family so you don’t get bored of them. When someone takes out their lunch of mashed potatoes and rice you won’t feel bad because your salad will be full of nice ingredients.
Now let’s go see those recipes!
1. SALAD WITH PAN-FRIED PROTEIN
This is the classic salad I’ve had my whole life: pan-fried chicken with a mix of other ingredients.
Recommended dressings: basic, balsamic, honey mustard, honey and mayonnaise, ranch, italian, garlic and parmesan, pesto
Salad with pan-fried protein
- 1/2 chicken breast cut in strips or salmon, fish, roast beef, pork filet
- 1 hard boiled egg or 3 quail eggs, cooked potato, nuts
- 1 tomato, chopped or cucumber, corn, something fresh
- lettuce the one you like most that's crunchy and fresh
- parmesan cheese flakes or fresh cheese, feta, brie or other soft cheese
- 1 handful walnuts or almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts
To cook the protein and not have it looking all white / grey on your salad (if we wanted that we would be boiling it!) we put a bit of vegetable oil on a pan on high heat and we put the protein on top without moving it around for a couple of minutes so it gets a nice colour. Once seared on all sides if you still need further cooking then you can lower the heat and even put a lid on.
2. SALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES
We often forget that our salads can have other cooked components other than protein and egg. This roasted vegetable salad is really good and quite different from the rest.
Recommended dressings: balsamic, orange marmalade, italian, garlic and parmesan, pesto
Cooked vegetable salad
- 1/2 beetroot, peeled and roasted
- 200 g squash / pumpkin (whichever kind you like) peeled, cut and roasted
- 1/2 green apple omit if you're using zucchini or aubergine and swap for roasted cherry tomatoes
- kale , spinach, purple lettuce or other which is firm and slightly bitter to contrast the sweet flavour of the roasted veggies
- 30 g toasted almonds or pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts
- 30 g fresh cheese or feta, mozzarella, goat
The roasted veggies can be: sweet potato, pumpkin / squash, leeks, fennel, zucchini, aubergine. To cook them we add olive oil, salt and pepper to them and take them to a medium-heat oven (180C) until they're al dente. Depending on the size you cut them in this could take 20-40min. You can also add fresh herbs to them and a garlic clove to add extra flavour. Try to cook them separate so they don't all have the same taste and your salad stays interesting.
3. LEGUME SALAD
Salads with legumes are my favourite. They have protein without it being animal and they give you a nice sensation of being full. They also have tons of flavour and give a nice twist to our salads. For these salads I recommend you stay away from mayonnaise-based dressings because the mix can be a bit too much.
Recommended dressings: basic, balsamic, pesto
- 6 tbsp cooked legumes, I used lentils but it can also be butter beans, chickpeas, black beans, etc
- 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in 4 or 1 large tomato
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 roasted piquillo pepper cut in cubes or 1/2 raw red pepper in small cubes
- rocket or watercress to add freshness to the legumes or it can also be baby spinach and sprouts
- 1/3 cucumber in slices and in half or red onion in cubes, very little
With the legumes that are so earthy it's good to have fresh elements in the salad like cucumber, peppers, cherry tomatoes and even red onion. I advice that you don't choose light green leaves because they tend to be very watery and their taste is lost with the strength of flavour from the legumes. Also if you're cooking the legumes yourself, cook them until they are al dente, not as much as you would if you were to purée them.
4. ORIENTAL SALAD
This salad is the most interesting of the bunch. This is because it offers different textures and flavours that make us curious. It’s also a combination of flavours we usually don’t try at home but rather order it at a restaurant.
Recommended dressing: oriental (duh), basic, balsamic, orange marmalade
- 1/2 chicken breast or pork filet, salmon, tuna
- 1 handful of chopped purple cabbage it can also be green cabbage or those purple lettuces that almost look like seaweed
- romaine lettuce or another crunchy and light green one you like
- 1 handful peanuts or cashews
- 1 small carrot, grated (1/2 a large) it can also be cucumber, tangerines or clementines
- 1/2 red pepper cut in cubes
- 1 handful of sprouts I used brocoli but it can be soybean sprouts, lentil sprouts, radish (they're spicy!), etc
For the protein to taste "oriental" I cooked it with 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Remember to not fill the pan too much and let it be still on high heat for a while so it can go golden.
5. SALAD WITH CEREALS
Salads with cerals are really good because, just like the legumes, they leave us with the sensation of being full for the rest of the afternoon if we have it for lunch. They’re really versatile and you can add lots of vegetables and flavours to vary them so get your creative juices going! My favourite quinoa salad I’ve shared before and you can find it here.
Recommended dressings: basic, balsamic, honey mustard, honey and mayonnaise, orange marmalade, pesto, italian, garlic and parmesan
Salad with Cereals
- 100 g cooked quinoa or cous cous, barley, whole grain rice, wild rice
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/3 cucumber in slices and quartered or fennel, red onion (very little in cubes), celery
- 1 tomato, cut or grated carrot
- 50 g corn
To cook the quinoa: wash throughly under running water on a sieve until it doesn't let go of foam so you wash away the saponin which makes quinoa bitter and is toxic in large quantities. Sear in a pot on medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and add salt, pepper and I also like to add lemon or lime zest. Then we add 1.5 times the volume of quinoa in water until it starts to boil. As soon as it boils we lower the heat to minimum and place a lid on top until it's completely dry. Once it's dry we use a fork to fluff the quinoa and wait for it to cool down completely before adding it to the salad.