The humble side salad generally plays second fiddle to the protein on our plates. But by late summer, traditional salads are feeling a little jaded – just like the summer vegetables in them.
Salads that are hearty enough to be a complete meal are a great way to introduce dinners or lunches that don’t make protein the star of the plate. If you’ve been barbecuing all summer, this kind of meal is also a night off from cleaning the barbecue and if you really can’t see your family coping without meat/fish/ham/chicken, serve the protein cooked and cold, mixed in with the salad. Here I’ve given two recipes for salads that use nuts as the protein source. Nuts also add texture and crunch, and are very filling owing to their high fat content.
Salad bowls make great meals for camping or boating, as they require little or no cooking, especially if you cheat and buy the sachets of cooked brown rice available in the supermarket. Brown rice is a nutritious grain, nutty and tasty, and if kept refrigerated, a rice salad can do a second meal the next day. It is a slow-release energy food which is great for those who burn through their internal fuel quickly. For people worried about colon cancer risk, brown rice is a concentrated source of the fibre needed to minimize the length of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells. It is also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. New Zealand soil is deficient in selenium, so we do not always get as much of this mineral as we need.
We grew red cabbage in our garden this summer, and this inspired a rash of new recipes, as we had to think of new ways to serve it. Cabbage is an excellent vegetable to take away on a boat or camping, when fridge space is limited. Both red and green cabbage last well out of the fridge, so long as they are kept in the shade. Cabbage has an unfashionable reputation, but it is extremely versatile. It’s also highly nutritious, being packed with vitamin C, fibre, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, calcium and magnesium. It is also believed to have anti-cancer properties. A Thai-style salad lifts the humble cabbage into something very alluring.
Cabbage, cashew and crispy noodle salad
- ¼ small red cabbage, sliced very thinly
- ¼ savoy cabbage, sliced very thinly
- 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 large carrot, cut into thin batons
- ½ small red onion, sliced thinly
- handful of mung bean sprouts
- 2 stalks of celery, diced thinly
- ½ cup fresh coriander leaves
- 8-10 cooked green beans
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cooked or raw
- ½ packet of crispy noodles
- 1 cup of roasted cashew nuts
- 4 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 4 Tbsp lime juice
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
To make dressing: combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Add more lime or sweet chilli until you are happy with the sweet-sour flavour.
Combine all the vegetables and coriander in a large bowl and toss well. Just prior to serving, add half the noodles and cashew nuts. Shake dressing then throw over salad and mix gently. Serve in individual bowls, with the rest of the noodles and salad on top.
Rice bowl salad
- 3 cups cooked, cooled brown rice
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
- 1 cup baby spinach or rocket leaves, roughly diced
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- ½ cup currants, or cranberries
- 1 large carrot, diced finely
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup tamari roasted almonds
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp sugar
Put cooled rice in a large bowl and add soy sauce. Mix through so rice is well coated. If you can, leave it to marinate for a couple of hours, then add other ingredients – except nuts – and mix well. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake till well mixed. Just prior to serving, pour dressing over salad and mix well, adding ¾ of the almonds. Serve in individual bowls with extra almonds scattered on top.
Carol Garden is a writer who likes to explore healthy, interesting food ideas. She has worked as a caterer, vegan chef, journalist and public relations consultant.
To contact Carol email: email@example.com