10 surprisingly sensational salad ingredients

1. Seed the changes

Salad with chicken and avocado

A good salad has a mixture of textures and flavours; add seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin or sesame, or a scattering of nuts. Try toasted flaked almonds or walnuts for added crunch.

Get our recipe for salad with chicken, avocado and sunflower seeds (pictured)

2. Roast your roots

Puy lentil salad with roasted vegetables

Try adding cooked vegetables to your salad. Roasted peppers, onions, beetroot and squash all work well. Add them to your salad when they are still warm from the oven or let them cool to room temperature before adding to the other ingredients if you are not serving the salad immediately.

Get our recipe for Puy lentil salad with roasted vegetables (pictured)

3. Get pulses racing

Butter beans in a salad

Protein-rich beans and lentils work particularly well with onion and peppers.

Get the recipe for pigeon peas salad

4. Spice up your life

Watercress salad with roasted garlic and walnut

Salads need seasoning just like any other dish, but that doesn’t mean salt. Mix fresh herbs among salad leaves and try adding spices and flavourings such as lemon, garlic and chilli to your dressings for a bit of a kick.

5. Don’t pass on the protein

Salmon and beetroot salad

Meat-and-two-veg fans may think that salad is an accompaniment rather than a main meal, but not any more. Beef up your leaves with grilled or baked meat or fish. Try chicken, lean beef, tuna and salmon. Hard-boiled eggs, lentils, pulses, nuts or seeds can make salads more filling, too.

Get the recipe for salmon and beetroot salad (pictured)

6. Leaf it out

Salad with shredded cabbage and apple

Why stop at lettuce? Try spinach or use grated root vegetables such as carrot or celeriac, finely sliced cabbage or fennel as the base. Or brighten up a bed of tomatoes by varying the colours and sizes.

7. Dress to impress

Lemon herb dressing

Dressings are still on the menu, as long as you’re not overgenerous with the pouring. A little vinaigrette made with unsaturated oil such as olive, rapeseed or sunflower can bring out the flavour and help to combine the ingredients. Use garlic, mustard, finely chopped onions, chives or diced chilli to complement different combinations.

Get the recipe for lemon herb dressing (pictured)

8. Fruity sensation

Strawberry salad with balsamic vinegar

Make fruit salads go with a bang. Unusual flavours that really work are strawberries with balsamic vinegar, or try them with a grind of black pepper or some torn basil leaves. Pears with cardamom or raspberries with mint are other surprisingly good combinations, too.

Get the recipe for strawberries with balsamic vinegar (pictured)

9. Sweet and savoury

Jewelled couscous salad

Fruit works well in savoury salads, too. Try mixing orange segments or pomegranate seeds with some spinach leaves.

Get the recipe for jewelled couscous salad (pictured)

Get the recipe for fruit and nut coleslaw

10. But…hold the syrup

Avoid adding sugar, honey or syrup to your fruit salads – delicious ripe fruit is all you need. If you want something to drizzle on top, try low-fat thick Greek yoghurt or low-fat fromage frais.

Read our feature on spectacular salads

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