What makes the perfect salad?

Making a salad is pretty simple. It’s not an inherently complex dish, making it a popular choice with people all over the world looking for a quick, simple, healthy meal to throw together come summertime. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.

Every salad should be made up of some key components, from vegetables and crunchy bits to additional extras like proteins, herbs, grains or fruit.

The base

However, this doesn’t have to be as simple as it may seem. Tender lettuce leaves and raw greens like rocket, baby spinach and little gem are all delicious bases for a fresh, seasonal salad, as are peppery, bitter options like radicchio and endive. But you don’t have to stop there. How about using a potato peeler to add fresh ribbons of asparagus or carrot, or thin slices of beetroot or radish?

Raw isn’t the only way to go. Chargrilled or roasted elements can make your salad feel more like a meal, as well as giving you some nice variety. Or, if you want a funky, fresh taste then how about adding some pickled elements? Go easy though, as they can be overpowering and make the dish too intense if you add too many.

The toppings

Once you’ve got your base sorted, the world is your oyster. Or your lettuce, if we’re sticking with the salad theme. Fresh herbs can add a fragrant perfume to a salad, while fruits are a perfect addition for light summer evening meals. Balsamic-glazed strawberries are great with peppery bases, while smoky chargrilled slices of ripe nectarine are a delicious addition – particularly when paired with some salty crumbled feta.

And then, of course, comes the protein. Leftover shredded chicken breast, boiled eggs, barbecued lamb, fillets of mackerel, flakes of delicious salmon or tuna – the possibilities are endless. And we haven’t even mentioned cheese yet! Whether you’re a fan of some feta, go crazy for a camembert or get happy at the mere mention of halloumi, pretty much any cheese on the planet makes a great addition to a salad. After all, what doesn’t taste better with cheese on?

A great salad is all about textures, which is why the addition of some crispy, crunchy elements can make all the difference. Go healthy with some pumpkin or sesame seeds, or some lightly toasted nuts. Or, for those who perhaps want something a little more indulgent, some garlicky croutons or wisps of crispy bacon can be an excellent addition to many salad dishes.

The dressing

Finally, the dressing. The dressing is the cherry on top of a delicious salad – and the thing that ties it all together. There are tons of different routes you can take when it comes to dressings, from rich and creamy sauces to light, classic vinaigrettes. The key is choosing which will best complement your salad creation. Opt for a creamy buttermilk ranch style  dressing for a hearty cobb salad, or an acidic zingy dressing to complement lighter, fruity or fishy additions.

One thing’s for sure, your tummy is going to love the experimenting phase! What’s your favourite salad? Let us know in the comments below.

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