This year is pretty much the first year that I actually began eating salads, and that’s after being vegetarian since 2006 and raw since 2012. I always found restaurant salads pretty boring, and it was only recently that I figured out a way to make them filling and taste amazing, so now I eat them all the time!
*Update* – I’ve made my first non-recipe video linked to this article!! Please find it below.
Here are a few fun tips on how to brighten up your daily salads with some easy fixes:
The secret to a good salad is in the sauce
This is always my number one suggestion to those who are new to raw food or if you want to make any dish more interesting – learn a few good sauce recipes and use them for anything you want!
Try blending some cashews with curry spices, or tahini with lemon, or avocado and basil, the possibilities are endless and every time, even if you have the same solid ingredients, your salad will taste different.
Add fresh herbs, micro-greens and sprouts
I come from a Russian family and it’s very common for us to use a lot of fresh herbs and greens, like dill and cilantro in our food. It amazed me that in Europe, people don’t eat them all that much.
Try chopping some different greens into your salad next time you make it, they will add a really delicious flavour. You could also make a salad almost entirely out of herbs, have a look at this raw tabbouleh recipe, for example.
Need ideas? Here are some things you could try: dill, cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, dandelion leaves, chives or spring onion.
Try some new veggies
Trying new food is exciting and you never know what gems you may come across! Instead of eating the same lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad every day, why not add something different to it, how about some radishes, asparagus or fresh peas. Or you could even do a completely new salad, made entirely out of kohlrabi and parsnips! Don’t be afraid to experiment, you won’t know if you like it if you never try it.
Make your salad spicy!
Those of you who have met me know that I love spicy food! If something tastes inedible, adding a spicy sauce usually fixes it for me. You can try adding some home made sambal to your usual salad dressing, or you can just sprinkle a few chilli flakes or adding some jalapeño peppers – whatever you choose, you will certainly give it a little kick in the right direction.
Cut your vegetables in a different way
This may sound funny, but it’s a curious fact of cooking – cutting things in different ways makes them taste different! So next time you’re chopping your veggies for your delicious salad, why not use a spiraliser to curl your zucchini, or use a potato peeler to “shave” your carrots, or mush your avocado into guacamole instead of cutting it into cubes! Trust me, your salad will taste different!
Add some dried fruit
Have you ever had raisins or dates in your salad? I used to think it’s the weirdest thing in the world, but I will admit, some salads actually do benefit from having a couple of raisins, as long as it’s not too overpowering. Sweet goes well with spicy, do you dare to give it a try?
Personally I don’t recommend mixing certain fruits with certain vegetables (you can read more about food combining online), but if you don’t mind that so much, you can try adding fresh fruit to your salads for some different textures and flavours too, mangos, apples and pears are some of the more common examples.
Keep it simple
The worst thing you can do to a salad, in my opinion, is overcomplicate it. Adding too many vegetables and dressing ingredients not only makes it harder for your body to digest, but it may turn out worse in taste. Remember, you can’t go wrong if you keep it simple!
Personally, I love just a simple tomato and avocado salad with a little bit of cold-pressed olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt, but if I feel like varying it, I may add some horseradish sauce, lettuce or a spicy sambal.
Also, don’t feel like you must have lettuce in it for it to be a salad. I grew up eating Korean carrot salads, which basically has no other solid ingredients besides carrots, and it’s so delicious!
Top it up with some nuts or seeds
A simple salad doesn’t fill you up? Why not add some nuts or seeds! This is also a good choice for those of you who like something crunchy to chew on and you’ll find that it’s a great addition to most salads. Personally I love hemp seeds and sunflower seeds.
Introduce dehydrated food to your salad
If you are still transitioning to raw food or if you feel like you need something heavier, you could add some dehydrated foods, such as raw falafels or crackers to your salad. A simple yet yummy option would be to make dehydrated caramelised onions or “parmesan” out of nuts (see photo above), for a more “cooked” feel.
Change the shape of your salad
This is similar to the idea that changing the shape of the ingredients changes their taste – same goes for the overall shape of the salad. Have you got any moulds? Use them to make something fun.
For example, the first time I ever made a tower salad, like the one shown above, I was just doing it to test out my new cutter, but when I served it (with the same ingredients and sauce as a typical salad), everyone found that the taste was different and they were all excited about the new shape. It’s fun to play with your food and I highly recommend you do so.
Marinate the ingredients
Marinating or pickling is another thing us Russians like doing and you can do some delicious things to add to your salads. What is marinating? It’s basically soaking your vegetables in well…anything (if you’re unsure, try olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt) for 30 minutes up to several days. The point is that it changes the flavour completely, and makes vegetables much softer.
For example, you can marinate cauliflower in a tomato sauce, like described here, which pretty much makes up a salad all on it’s own. You can also try pickling cucumbers or zucchini’s to add a salty-sour flavour to your salad. It works wonders on harder root vegetables, check out this beetroot salad for example – the beets gets so nice and soft if you leave them to marinate overnight.
I hope you enjoyed these tips, but here’s a bonus one for you: if all else fails – blend it! Seriously, some people (like a certain someone who’s sitting next to me) are too lazy to chew through a salad, so they would rather drink it instead. Make a savoury gazpacho soup (tomato, cucumber, red pepper), or a sweet green smoothie (banana, spinach, water) to get your daily share of vitamins in an easy and fast way!
What makes a good salad in your opinion? Tell us in the comments below.