Seven easy steps to healthy and colourful summer salads

Over the last few weeks, London has definitely had its share of gorgeously sunny and hot days, and I’ve been enjoying this to the utmost – queuing at Wimbledon, walking in the park, exercising outdoors, and using the opportunity to eat healthy and enjoy it more than usual.

A Wimbledon picnic whilst queuing to see Federer

With some days being too hot to cook a hot meal, I’ve joined the trend of healthy ‘bowls’. I’m not sure why they’re called ‘bowls’… when I make a stir-fry, I don’t call it a ‘plate’, so I’m just calling these healthy and colourful summer salads! They’re delicious, nutritious, and best of all, quite fun to arrange. They’re also endlessly versatile, so I never make them the same way twice. And depending on what you like and dislike, you can do the same! They can be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or carnivorous, and the bright colours just look gorgeous. Best of all, they only take 10-15 minutes to prepare – perfect for busy weeknight dinners.

Sesame-encrusted salmon, buffalo mozzarella, baby gem lettuce, fresh parsley and coriander, orange pepper, black olives, couscous, hummus, so much lemon juice and zest, and a drizzle of truffle oil

Step One: Pick Your Protein

I usually go for grilled salmon, halloumi, or poached chicken. It’s likely the most substantial part of the salad, so feel free to jazz it up in some way. I’ve done sesame-encrusted salmon, and added fresh ginger or garlic to the liquid when I poached the chicken.

Step Two: Select the Salad

Any leaf you desire… I love roughly chopped spinach or baby gem lettuce, as rocket is a bit too peppery for my taste.

Step Three: Your Go-To Grain

I adore couscous, but you can substitute for bulgur wheat, quinoa, brown rice, or even forgo this entirely and make the salad no-carb.

Step Four: Various vegetables

Anything colourful! Carrots, peppers, cucumbers, olives, celery, tomatoes… you can make this a separate section, or mix them up with your grain of choice.

Step Five: Saucy dips

Hummus (home-made or store-bought), tahini, or a quick za’atar dressing (just mix Greek yogurt with za’atar and you’re good to go).

Step Six: Tantalising toppings

Always a generous squeeze of fresh lemon (and a bit of lemon zest for extra oomph) and freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. For more tantalisation, add fresh herbs (basil, mint, coriander, parsley), truffle oil, balsamic cream, roasted sesame/pumpkin/sunflower seeds or chili flakes.

Step Seven: Excellent extras

This can be anything from sliced avocado, poached egg, grilled asparagus, roasted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, you name it), chopped preserved lemons, slices of buffalo mozzarella, or dollops of creamy ricotta. The opportunities are endless!

Here are two others I made recently…

Couscous, chopped avocado, hummus with pine nuts, spinach, carrot, mozzarella, black olives, and coriander-yogurt dressing

 

Grilled halloumi, home-made hummus, brown rice, roasted courgette and aubergine, fresh parsley and coriander, roasted walnuts and pine nuts

What are your favourite ingredients for summer salads? What would you pick for these seven steps?

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