The Salad Bible
The other day I was having dinner with some friends and they made fun of me because when they asked me what I ordered, I replied “a massive salad” and that I would be fine with that and wouldn’t have to pick from their plates. They chided me for (1) calling the salad “massive” and (2) for considering the course as a meal that would get me full enough and carry me on until the next day.
This got me thinking. When people decide to go on a diet, they automatically assume that they will be eating a rabbit’s diet and are prepared to face the doom of a green field of leaves and vegetable sticks. While we’ve already proven that a diet doesn’t necessarily mean just salad in all the previous posts, I want to show you that even if you only had to eat salads, you could do so and be extremely satiated.
The general misconception is that a salad is some wilted lettuce with a side of vinegar and olive oil and minimal seasoning. How dreadfully boring. If this is the only type you know, go out and live a little. The creative spectrum of the “Salad Course” is incredibly expansive and you could probably go months with just eating different types of them. The rub lies in knowing how to create and prepare filling variations with whatever fresh ingredients you can find that won’t leave you wishing death upon all vegans. This is your Salad Bible and it will achieve just that. We will talk about the elements of a well composed dish and how to mix and match them seamlessly.
Salad, a lot like life, is all about balance and diversity.
(Shit just got deep)
The Salad Bible
Before thinking of wild ideas and pairing 100 ingredients together in one bowl and expecting it to taste like rainbows you need to decide on a direction. It is a staple dish around the world, so your thought process can be country driven (Thai Salads, French, American, Italian, Swedish, Mediterranean…) or it could be based on salads that you’ve already tasted (Caesar, Nicoise, Cobb, Ambrosia ewwww…). From there think about the ingredients and the flavour profiles used and trust this as your guide.
- Balance: Try and think about how all the flavours will meld together, salty, sweet, umami, try and imagine the taste in your mouth. A beautiful salad is a well composed selection of a maximum of 4-9 ingredients, made sure to fit properly together in terms of taste (don’t put fish salt with something that’s already salty, don’t use honey if you already lots of sweet fruits).
Weight (you don’t want to put potatoes, with sweet potatoes with beans for example)
Texture (you don’t want the texture to be one dimensional, think of how each ingredient will contrast with each other)
Common sense (if your ingredients are heavy, you don’t want to add a heavy dressing; when your protein is fatty, you want to make sure to add lots of citrus to bite through it)
Cut (this ties in a little with presentation, but try and make sure that all the ingredients have the same cut size/width/length, so it doesn’t make it messy to toss around and mix properly, you want to be able to take a fork hit and down and get the perfect bite; not have to battle to try and get all the ingredients at one on your cutlery)
Technique (which elements are going to be cooked, baked, seared, grilled, scorched…and which will just be freshly served? Have a mix of both on the plate, warm and cold. Or hot and then chilled so that it all turns out cold)
Measurements (define the star of the dish, the one defining ingredient and work around it; if you want a proper mixed salad, everything that goes in it needs to be, more or less, of the same amount.).
Click more for: Ingredients, Dressings, Rules, Preperations, Skills…
(picutred here my red cabbage, tuna loin, tomato and onion salsa, avocado and coriander salad with pure lemon juice (1 lemon) and a tbsp of olive oil)
Here is a list of ingredients I consider great when incorporated in salads, per flavour profile (don’t let this restrict you, it’s just a guide)
- Greens: Spinach, coriander, basil, dill, all kinds of lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, mint, parsley, any baby leaves,
- Proteins: Chicken, beef, pork, veal, lamb, tuna, salmon, shrimp, lobster, pates, sausages, eggs, scallops, jerky, hams, deli meats, cheese, bacon, nuts, crab, turkey.
- Grains: semolina, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, buckwheat, brown rice, wheat pastas, bread, couscous, rice noodles.
- Vegetables/ Tubers/Legumes
Asian: beans, sweet potato, jicama, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, carrots, ginger, snap peas, beans, snow peas, papaya, daikon, lemongrass, cabbage, Asian cress, watercress, wombok, avocado, chilli, coconut, bok choi, kankong, fern, seaweed, garlic, radish, eggplant, baby corn, mushrooms
Caucasian: Brussel Sprouts, artichoke, asparagus, cabbage, cress, tomatoes, onions, snow peas, green peas, all beans, avocado, endives, fennel, beets, leeks, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, courgette, squash, bell peppers, aubergine, radish, corn
Middle Eastern/Indian: chickpeas, white beans, all legumes, fresh peas, cucumber, leeks, potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic, fennel, carrots, tomatoes, squash, eggplant,
Asian: Plum, lychee, papaya, mangos, lime, lemon, grape fruit, mandarins, pineapple, peaches, bananas.
Caucasian: nectarines, peaches, mangos, pineapple, all berries, citrus, oranges, passion fruit, apples, kiwi, grapes, figs.
Middle Eastern/Indian: dates, dried fruit, chutneys, mangos, citrus, oranges, figs.
I’m sure I missed a lot of them, but this gives us an idea of what goes where.
My couscous salad http://wp.me/p29LbV-l7
A good dressing needs to complement both the ingredients listed and the overall them of the dish. Most dressing are composed of the following elements.
- Oil: Olive Oil, safflower, canola, grapeseed, sesame (a drop only for taste), specialty oils (peanut, nuts, chilli…).
- Sweetness: Honey, sugar variations (white, brown, muscuvado, stevia, coconut), fruit juices, maple syrup, molasses.
- Acid: all types of vinegars, the basics are balsamic, red, white wine, cider, specialty, cherry, champagne, apple, mirin. All types of citrus, yuzu, limes, lemons, orange juice…
- Salt: Seasoning is the most important, never forget the salt and some pepper if using.
- Added Flavours: this can range from dried herbs, to spices(paprika, saffron, cayenne), to rinds (lemon, orange), fruit, pepper, garlic, shallots, egg yolks, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustards, chillies, seeds (sesame, etc.)
The Basic rule of thumb when making a dressing is to always have 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar and other ingredients. However a 2:2 ratio works sometimes too. This is really up to you, so taste as you go. If its too runny then there’s too much oil, too thick add vinegar, too sweet, add tartness; you get the drill.
My favourite way of mixing a dressing, asides from just stirring it together, I like to put all the ingredients in a jar (leave half of it empty) and shake the hell out of it too make sure it’s well emulsified, or I enjoy using a blender too to get a well-mixed consistency. If you are serving your sauce on the side (I usually prefer it to all be mixed last minute) make sure you make your dressing at the very last moment and because it has to be cold, always make sure all your ingredients are always kept chilled.
My blended salad, the gazpacho http://wp.me/p29LbV-k6
- For your leaves and herbs always try and clean them in freezing water, pat them dry or have them go through a salad spinner.
- Never over dress.
- Each element of your salad has to be lightly coated with the dressing when tossed. Not drenched nor dry.
- Don’t overdo it.
- Google, there are literally millions of salad recipes available online.
- Trust your taste buds, always taste.
- Always shop the freshest ingredients
- Keep an open mind when shopping if you see something that looks like it was just plucked out of the soil, go for it.
- Don’t over crowd.
- In plating a bowl is always better for salads.
- Always mix and toss your salads in a very large bowl before plating.
- To infuse garlic in a dressing. Crush a clove and run it around the bowl you will use for tossing, the flavour will delicately seep in.
- A salad is usually healthy, but it can get unhealthy very fast if you put too much of anything, or use too much sugar, add lots of grains, use too many fat ingredients, just use your common sense in composing one. Case and point some of the most high caloric dishes in menus worldwide can be salads (especially in the states)
- Stay away from thousand islands.
- Always ask for homemade mayonnaise.
- Bacon does not make everything better.
- Cut and chop precisely.
- Always prepare last minute.
- Toss together RIGHT before serving.
- Eat immediately when ready.
- Confucius says: If you put hot on fresh, fresh will wilt.
Now with all of the information above and the dressings below, you should be able to come up with some pretty decently creative salads. Just choose a couple of ingredients from the list above, have a coherent theme and spin up a tasty dressing and you’ve got yourself a filling, different and MASSIVE SALAD.
My leftover chicken salad http://wp.me/p29LbV-jZ
So these are not mine, I got them from different places, but they are all great. Just to give you an idea of the possibilities. If you are trying to be healthy, stay with the low sugar, vinegar based, clear dressings with not too much fat added to the oils.
Each country has their own specific style of favourite dressings, so make sure you check those out too.
- Ranch: Yields about 1 cup, ingredients include mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream (full fat or light), chopped green onions, chopped flat-leaf parsley, small garlic clove (smashed & peeled), apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper. From The Galley Gourmet.
- Buttermilk Ranch: Ingredients include mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, dried parsley, dried dill weed, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper. From Mother Thyme.
- Southwestern Ranch: Made with mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, white vinegar, minced jalapeno (canned), onion powder, dried parsley, hot pepper sauce, salt, paprika, dried dill weed, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, black pepper. From Kitchen Simplicity.
- Low-Fat Ranch: Yields approximately 3/4 cup, ingredients include low or non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat sour cream, mayonnaise, low-fat milk or buttermilk, salt, lemon juice, garlic clove (minced and mashed into a paste), fresh dill, parsley and chives (minced). From Craving Chronicles.
- Tangy Green Goddess: Yields 1 3/4 cups, made with an avocado (peeled & pitted), fat-free buttermilk, fresh chopped herbs (tarragon, sorrel, mint, parsley and/or cilantro), rice vinegar, salt. From Eating Well.
- Green Goddess: Made with an anchovy fillet, tarragon vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar), low fat mayonnaise, plain thick Greek yogurt, water, fresh tarragon (finely chopped), chives, Italian parsley, fresh squeezed lemon juice, a dash of hot sauce, salt and fresh cracked pepper. From Louise Mellor.
- Creamy Balsamic: Made with grated garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sugar, Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning, salt, balsamic vinegar and extra light olive oil. From My Life as a Mrs.
- Creamy Cilantro: Made with fresh cilantro, salsa, mayonnaise, garlic, juice of lime, salt and pepper. From See Jane Cook.
- Avocado: Yields 2 cups, made with buttermilk, fat-free plain yogurt, medium ripe avocado (peeled & sliced), chopped green onions, minced fresh parsley, salt, garlic powder, dill weed, pepper. From Taste of Home.
- Creamy Avocado: Made with minced garlic cloves, English cucumber, avocado, baby spinach, fresh mint leaves, spring onions (or green onions), fresh lemon juice, olive oil, freshly ground white or black pepper, sea salt and water. From My Recipes.
- Blue Cheese: Made with crumbled or finely chopped blue cheese, non-fat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and a drizzle of honey or agave. From Honest Fare.
- Blue Cheese: Made with sour cream, plain low-fat yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice or cider vinegar, minced garlic, creamy blue cheese (such as Roquefort) and freshly ground black pepper. From Culinate.
- French: Recommends making a few hours ahead, ingredients include vegetable oil, ketchup, sugar, white vinegar, minced yellow onion, lemon juice, paprika, garlic salt (or fresh minced garlic and white salt), fresh ground black pepper, mayonnaise (optional, for creamy-style). Can also add blue cheese. From Food.com.
- Creamy Pesto Version: Yields about 2 1/2 cups, ingredients include mayonnaise, low-fat buttermilk, dried basil, garlic powder, salt, fresh ground black pepper, freshly, finely grated Parmesan cheese. Recommends making an hour ahead of time so flavors can develop. From Cooking Classy.
- Sun-Dried Tomato: Made with light mayonnaise, sun dried tomatoes in oil (chopped), roasted red pepper, white balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh parsley, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Found at Big Flavors From A Tiny Kitchen.
- Spicy Thousand Island: Makes 3/4 cup, made with mayonnaise, ketchup, sambal oelek (hot chile paste), coarsely chopped sweet pickles (or sweet pickle relish), coarsely chopped green olives with pimientos. From Martha Stewart.
- Caesar-Style: Made with mayonnaise, oil-packed anchovies (drained), garlic clove, drained capers, fresh lemon juice, water, Dijon mustard, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. From Delish.
- Roasted Garlic & Buttermilk: Makes about 1 3/4 cups, ingredients include garlic, olive oil, mayonnaise, buttermilk, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. From A Perfect Beginning.
- Poppy Seed: Made with mayonnaise, sugar, cider vinegar and poppy seeds. From Betty Crocker.
- Cilantro Orange: Made with mayonnaise, low-fat sour cream, sea salt, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, chopped green onions, apple-cider vinegar, soy sauce, fresh orange juice, orange zest, chopped orange pieces (peeled & seeds removed), honey. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. From Artsy Foodie.
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette: Made with apple cider, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar or honey, pure maple syrup, ground cinnamon, Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper. Includes a recipe for an autumn salad. From Food + Words.
- Best Dressing: Yields approximately 3/4 cup, ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, tamari sauce (or soy sauce), poppy seeds, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, black pepper, minced white onion, grated garlic clove. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. From An Edible Mosaic.
- Smoky Orange: Makes about 3/4 cup, ingredients include rice vinegar, orange marmalade, water, honey, smoked paprika, minced shallot, extra-virgin olive oil, minced parsley, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. From Food & Wine.
- Sweet Basil: Made with fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped), rice vinegar, canola oil, sugar, honey, garlic clove, Dijon mustard, sea salt and pepper to taste. From the cafe sucre farine.
- Basil: Yields 1 1/4 cups, made with fresh basil, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, coarse salt and ground pepper. From Whole Living.
- Strawberry Poppyseed: Made with garlic clove, small purple onion, sugar, fresh strawberries, raspberries or raspberry jam, white vinegar, extra light olive oil, salt and poppyseeds. From Cheeky Kitchen.
- Olive Garden Version: Made with Good Seasonings Italian Dressing (1 packet), dried Italian seasoning, table salt, black pepper, sugar, garlic powder, mayonnaise, olive oil, white vinegar, water. From The Country Cook.
- Catalina: Yields approximately 1.5 cups, made with ketchup, sugar, red wine vinegar, chopped onion (or onion powder), paprika, Worcestershire sauce, canola oil, salt and pepper. From Kitchen Simplicity.
- Honey Lime: Made with fresh lime juice, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, cumin, Kosher salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, canola oil. From The Yummy Life.
- Raspberry: Made with seedless raspberry fruit spread or preserves, seasoned rice wine vinegar and olive oil. From My Recipes.
- Raspberry: Made with minced shallot, raspberry preserves, honey, dry mustard, salt, white pepper, raspberry vinegar, water, olive oil and canola oil. From The Yummy Life.
- Lemon: Makes 1/2 cup, ingredients include Dijon mustard, finely grated lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and extra-virgin olive oil. From Martha Stewart.
- Japanese-Ginger: Makes about 1 cup, ingredients include minced onion, vegetable oil, vinegar, water, lemon zest, minced fresh ginger root (with skin scraped off), minced celery, ketchup, soy sauce, white sugar, lemon juice, salt, ground black pepper. From Asian Supper.
- Ginger: Yields about 3/4 cup, made with minced fresh ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and olive oil. From Life’s Ambrosia.
- Greek: Made with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, pressed garlic clove, dried oregano leaves, Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. From Simply Scratch.
- Greek: Made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, pressed or minced garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper. From Aggie’s Kitchen.
- Cilantro Lime: Makes 1 1/4 cups, ingredients include cilantro, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper, minced garlic. From Eating Well.
- Fig Balsamic: Made with fresh figs (stems removed), good quality balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, sea salt or Herbamare, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper. From The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.
- Carrot & Ginger: Made with carrots (peeled and roughly chopped), shallot, fresh ginger, miso, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil and water. From Live Love Pasta.
- Pistachio: Made with fresh lemon juice, chopped shallot, chopped fresh tarragon, red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and pistachios. From My Recipes.
- Balsamic & Mustard: Made with good quality balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard (recommends a grainy type), honey (or agave), dried herbs (ie. oregano, thyme), salt and pepper. From The Sweet Beet.
- Tomato Paprika: Makes 1 1/2 cups, ingredients include plum or other ripe tomatoes, red-wine vinegar, light-brown sugar, roughly chopped garlic, mild paprika, extra-virgin olive oil, coarse salt and ground pepper. From Whole Living.
- Effortless Honey Dijon: Made with Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, dried tarragon, olive oil. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. From 24 Corners.
- Honey Mustard: Made with extra-virgin olive oil, white or red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper to taste. Ingredients are mixed in a jar and shaken vigorously. You can also add fresh herbs of choice, garlic or shallots, or try orange juice for some vinegar. From Rachael Ray.
- Blue Cheese Version: Made with crumbled blue cheese, reduced-sodium chicken broth (or water), extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar), minced shallot, Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper. From Eating Well.
- Honey Lemon: Ingredients include fresh lemon juice, finely grated lemon zest, honey, chopped thyme, extra-virgin olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. From Delish.
- Honey Mustard & Dill: Made with Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper, freshly chopped dill. Ingredients are combined in a jar and shaken until combined. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. From Daily Unadventures In Cooking.
- Creamy French: Made with white wine vinegar, walnut oil, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, chopped parsley leaves, best-quality extra virgin olive oil. Ingredients are shaken in a jar until combined. From Jamie Oliver.
- Walnut Oil: Made with red-wine vinegar, pomegranate molasses (or frozen cranberry juice concentrate), salt, freshly ground pepper, walnut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil). From Kitchen Daily.
- Caesar: An egg-free version, this is made with juice of 1 lemon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, anchovy fillets, peeled garlic cloves and extra virgin olive oil. Can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator, recommends making at least one hour before using. From Sarah’s Cucina Bella.
- Caesar: Another eggless version, this is made with garlic cloves, anchovy fillets, red wine vinegar, Tabasco (just a dash), Worcestershire sauce, juice of one lemon, freshly ground pepper, good olive oil. From Urban Baker.
- Tarragon: Made with finely minced fresh tarragon, finely chopped garlic, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil. Mixed & shaken in a jar. From Smorgasbite.
My Barley Salad http://wp.me/p29LbV-i9
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