With so many interesting ingredients available, a bit of imagination means a salad can be a main course or even a dessert, says BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor.
Long gone are the days when all we put into a salad were cold, hard tomatoes, thin slithers of cucumber and limp lettuce. Today, salads can stretch your imagination like no other meal.
Main meal salads
The key is to ensure you have a balance of food groups. Along with a mix of cooked and raw vegetables, include protein and some starchy carbohydrate. Heart-healthy protein options include lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or lentils or low-fat dairy. For starchy carbohydrates, add boiled, halved new potatoes, chunks of cooked sweet potato, cooked wholegrain pasta or brown rice, or simply have some wholegrain bread on the side.
Don’t forget to think about how the combination of ingredients looks together - aim for a mixture of colours and textures for maximum eye appeal. Fresh herbs sprinkled on top will help your salad look appealing as well as adding flavour.
Don’t stop at savoury – fruit salads can serve as tasty snacks or delicious puddings and are a great way to get a variety of fruits in your diet, helping you towards your recommended 5-a-day.
Think about which fruit combinations work in terms of flavour, as well as texture and appeal on the plate. Try grouping fruits according to colour, for example strawberries, raspberries and cherries, or for a contrast try sliced pears with blackberries scattered over the top.
Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and banana are also delicious together. To get the juices flowing and enhance sweetness, how about grilling or griddling fruits? Peaches, pineapples, apricots, plums, pears, figs and even grapefruit are excellent grilled, baked or barbecued. This is also a great trick to soften up fruits that are a bit under-ripe.