Growing up, we were never into salads. The only salads we knew (pretty much the same mentality amongst most of us), well, was kachumbari (one with chopped tomatoes, onions, pepper & lemon juice) or coleslaw (basically shredded carrots & cabbages in mayonnaise.
While the concepts of salad making are not native to Africans, or Kenyans for that matter, that should not stop you from exploring the wonderful world of alternative eating. Salads are light, hearty and easy on our stomach, and we cannot deny, the lesser we process our food, the purer they remain, and hence salads are one of the healthiest food options to go for these days.
I first came to be interested in salads when I went for my first Nairobi Restaurant Week two years ago. My entrée was a shrimp salad which I really loved and immediately got down to churning more for myself, trying different recipes here and there until I got my basics right.
Below are a few steps on getting your salads right.
There are no limits to the greens you can use to set your salad base. There are different types of lettuce in the market you can choose from; romaine, iceberg radicchios etc. Experiment until you get what works for you. Remember to wash your greens thoroughly and dry them to retain their crunchy texture.
Veggies & Fruits (for body)
Vegetables, raw or semi cooked or grilled or roasted form a integral part of the salad to add some body to it; from cucumber, root veggies (beets, carrots), radishes, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes etc. Fruits like apples, pineapples, water melons and more can be added to your liking
Proteins & Carbs
if veggies only are not your cup of tea, you can incorporate proteins like boiled eggs, beans, lentils or meat proteins like beef, chicken, fish, ham or grains like quinoa that add bulk to your salad.
This has to be one of the most important elements in a salad. It can be oil based or cream based. If you’re making your own, get the mixing ratios right (will cover this in depth in a subsequent article) between oil and acidic agent like lemons, vinegar etc. You could still buy ready-made dressing from a store near you. Remember, don’t overdress a salad (if possible, do it separately).
It’s always nice to add some punch to your food and give it a new dimension. Add nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds or seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or croutons to your salads.
You can add on dairy like cheese (crumbled/grated), pickled items like gherkins, or olives to make your salad more appealing.
Goal is to make your salad as exciting and tasty as possible. Go out there and experiment…a lot! Salads are exciting and good for you. Make one today