The lunch menu at Double Shot, in Deakin is a fine example of how to throw together a side or main meal salad at home that will wow your guests but still leave them feeling light and ‘fine’.
It’s also a great idea for work or home when you’re eating light and pacing yourself between social dining opportunities.
It’s a no-fail formula:
1. Pick a base for your salad (any washed green leaves will work)
2. Add colour, texture, flavour
– look in the fridge freezer and cupboards for what’s on hand; or
– if you have more time and energy, get inspiration from restaurant and cafe menus that usually have interesting combinations that work well.
– ensure there is at least one intense flavour (even just a little makes a big difference, without adding too many extra kilojoules or extra sodium) e.g. bacon bits/olives/feta/antipasti mix/anchovies/chorizo/baby beets/capers/marinated vegetables/sundried tomato
3. Layer the different ingredients on top of the leaves, leaving the most interesting colours, textures and flavours for the upper layers.
4. Serve with an interesting dressing (e.g. combine lemon juice or a vinegar e.g. balsamic (e.g. 3 Tbsp) with some oil e.g. olive (e.g. 1 Tbsp), adding a little sweetener to taste e.g. brown sugar/honey e.g. 2 tsp and I like some dijon or wholegrain mustard e.g. 2 tsp as well)
(Tip: if you allow the dressing to be added to individual plates then any leftover salad will keep better until the next meal).
For a main meal salad:
Add a cooked protein food (sliced often works best), perhaps marinated/smoked/warm (e.g. warm thai beef, warm chicken, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon/trout/ham/chicken, boiled eggs, cubed or crumbed cheese, prawns or other seafood, warm marinated tofu).
Usually this layer is best near the top of the salad, but with more colourful/flavoursome and textured layers garnishing it.
From the freezer:
Frozen baby beans/ baby peas/ tender corn kernels (blanch these by pouring boiling water over them, stand for a few minutes, then drain well).
Bits and pieces collected for just this purpose e.g. fried bacon bits, roast pumpkin, olives, antipasti mix
From the fridge/deli:
Left over roast vegetables (e.g. pumpkin/ roast potato/ carrot/ potato/ beetroot/ eggplant/ mushrooms/ zucchini/ capsicum/roasted canned chickpeas )
Left over steamed vegetables
Salad vegetables including blanched asparagus/snow peas/ green beans/ corn kernels (blanch these by pouring boiling water over them, stand for a few minutes until tender, then drain well)
Tomatoes/ baby tomatoes/ lebanese cucumbers/ red capsicum/ red onion/ avocado/salad leaves/ shredded cabbage
Marinated vegetables (e.g. olives/ antipasti mix/ artichokes/eggplant/ sundried-tomato)
And if you have an Asian peeler it can be used for green papaya/green mango/carrot
Fruit (e.g. orange/pineapple/apple)
From the pantry:
Canned chickpeas and beans
Nuts – whole and chopped, or seeds – best toasted and sprinkled on top at the last minute
Canned vegetables (e.g. baby beets/ asparagus/ corn kernels/ champignon mushrooms)
Cooked quinoa or couscous to stir through the leaves
Dried fruit and berries