I was never the person to order a salad. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always eaten fairly well and have been conscious of the food I put in my body. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t be a Clean Eating editor! But at heart, I’m a carb-lover and comfort eater. I hail from a country – Bangladesh – where we eat white rice every single day. Salads were never part of my diet, and they were the last thing on my mind when ordering out.
Until I discovered the perfect salad.
Enter: the Mediterranean Salad, of Toronto-based eatery Pantry Rosedale. Crafted collaboratively by Chefs Derek Wasser and Adrian Niman, this gorgeous green bowl is brimming with plant-based goodness. A scattering of quinoa makes its well-dressed base of kale and parsley incredibly filling. Topping this leafy bed is a variety of vibrant treasures: Cubes of sunny summer squash, soft zucchini noodles and pomegranate seeds. And for the pièce de résistance, tiny red teardrop-shaped Peruvian peppers, known as “Sweety Drops.” It was everything I didn’t know salads could be: Filling, exciting and addictively delicious.
Build A Better Salad
For indulgent eaters like me, an enticing salad has several key components: Filling ingredients, flavorful dressings and exciting toppings (like Sweety Drops) that make me look forward to each bite. As a bonus, you can never go wrong with a warm component, like flaky fish or cooked chickpeas.
Sound complicated? Don’t worry – to hit the ground running with a platter you know for sure tastes good, try some of my personal favorite CE creations (pictured above):
- Vietnamese Shrimp Salad with Mint Chile Dressing
- Roasted Grape and Salmon Kale Salad with Cider Maple Vinaigrette & Gorgonzola
- Fattoush Salad with Chickpea Crackers & Pomegranate Honey-Mustard Dressing
If you’re determined to build your own, CE’s aficionados have made it easier than ever with the following mix-and-match chart. Simply pick one option from each row to build a layered salad that you’ll actually look forward to eating:
|Options 1||Options 2||Options 3||Options 4|
|BASES||EVERYDAY LEAFY GREENS: Boston, romaine or iceberg lettuce||SLAW: purple, green, savoy or napa cabbage||FANCY LEAFY GREENS: baby kale, radicchio or arugula||GRAINS: quinoa, millet, farro or freekeh|
|PROTEIN||Chicken or egg||Tofu or tempeh||Salmon, shrimp, crab or tuna||Beans, chickpeas or lentils|
|RAW VEGETABLES||Radishes, jicama or bean sprouts||Cucumbers, sugar snap peas, snow peas or green/yellow beans||Celery, carrots or bell pepper||Red or green onions|
|ROASTED VEGETABLES||Cauliflower, broccoli or Brussels sprouts||Sweet potatoes or winter squash||Beets, rainbow carrots or peppers||Fennel bulb or parsnips|
|FRUITS||Citrus (orange or grapefruit sections) or berries (strawberries, raspberries or pomegranate arils)||Avocados, mangos, peaches or plums||Tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, grape, Roma or beefsteak)||Apples or pears|
|DRESSINGS||Russian Dressing||Sweet Maple Sesame Dressing||Sriracha Balsamic Vinaigrette||Tangy Lime Vinaigrette|
|CRUNCHY TOPPERS||Raw nuts or seeds||Honeyed Pecans||Roasted Chickpeas or Edamame||Crispy Quinoa Topper|
|CHEESE||SALTY: feta or halloumi||AGED: cheddar or Parmesan||PUNGENT: goat or blue||CREAMY: Havarti, mozzarella or Brie|
The combinations are endless! If you’re daunted by the prospect of so many options, start simple, discover what you like and stick to those ingredients. Don’t have an ingredient or two? Fear not. Simply replace with an extra helping of your favorite component. Through experimentation, you’ll discover what works best for you. And before you know it, just like me, you’ll be a convert.