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Add these ingredients to bring color and health to your salads!
Salad is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet.
It’s funny to think about it, but it’s true. After all, you choose from among more than a hundred different ingredients and still call it a salad.
Most of us think of salad as being made with lettuce, cabbage, or some other leafy green, but there are tomato salads, radish salads, carrot salads, and so many more.
Salad can have just about anything, and as long as it’s vegetable-based, it’s healthy!
Here are a few fun and odd ingredients you can add into your salad today:
Rather than adding in sliced olives, like you’ll find in so many Mediterranean salads, why not add the olives in whole? You’ll find this is an amazing addition into a quinoa salad or any salad that contains a lot of whole grains.
Olives are loaded with nutrients, rich in amazing flavor, and they’re easy to store in your fridge. With so many different types of olives to choose from, you’ll never run out of tasty new ways to enjoy your salad.
Pigeons peas are an interesting alternative to your staple green peas. They have more of a bean-like consistency than green peas, which means they add a bit more density to your salad. Plus, with all the additional protein they provide, you’ll find your salad packs a far greater nutritional punch.
You’ll have to cook the pigeon peas before adding them into your salad, but they’re an absolutely delightful addition to spice up your dishes.
Jicama is one of Mexico’s most underrated vegetables! It’s as crunchy as a carrot, but with as much juice as a cucumber, and a slightly sweet flavor that pairs absolutely perfectly with your favorite citrus-based dressings and vinaigrettes.
Jicama is amazing when served on its own, or when dressed with lime and chili pepper and dropped into a salad. You can also grate it like you would carrots, or make jicama slices to add a fresh, tasty crunch into any leafy salad you’re making. To get really creative, mix it up with some grapefruit, lime juice, and mint for a taste explosion.
Chickpeas make a marvelous addition to any salad, thanks to their high protein, fiber, and mineral content. They’re a great way to add more vegetable-based protein and healthy fats into your salad with almost no effort. Simply pop the can open, season, and add!
Or, why not get a bit creative? Drain the chickpeas, dry them, toss them in your favorite spices, then roast them in the oven until they get dry and crunchy like peanuts. Crunchy, crispy chickpeas make one heck of a snack, and they’ll make any salad you prepare so much tastier, richer, and heartier.
Onions add a layer of flavor and a tanginess to your salad that will enhance the fresh taste. A lot of Asian recipes include onions in their salads because they help to cut the sweetness of the dressing, and combine beautifully with the proteins in the salads.
But rather than using regular onions, try green onions or chives. These have a much milder flavor and are easy to cut small, meaning you get the freshness of the onions without eating a big piece each bite. You’ll find that it gives any Asian-style salad a delightful new layer of texture and flavor that you’re guaranteed to enjoy.
Pickled Onions and Spicy Peppers
Take a page out of the Mexican cuisine playbook with this addition! Pickled onions and spicy peppers (either jalapenos or habaneros) include both the sourness and spice that makes your salad delicious. They’re particularly tasty if you’re making a taco salad or any type of salad that includes beef, either ground or sliced.
Don’t have time to pickle the ingredients? Slice them into a bowl, squeeze in a bit of fresh lime juice, and let it sit for 1-2 hours. It will not only soften up the flavors of the onions and peppers, but it will add a citrus zestiness that will absolutely transform your salad.
Turmeric isn’t a vegetable you can add into the salad, but even just a pinch of this spice will do wonders for the flavor of your bowl. Not only is it an amazing anti-inflammatory agent, but it brings a dash of bright yellow color and rich, deep flavor that can’t be found in any other spice.
Use it to add flavor to your roasted chickpeas, or include a tiny bit into your dressings to boost the complexity of your favorite vinaigrette. Just the color alone will make your salad so much prettier, and the flavor and aroma are both superb.
Most of us think of fresh veggies when we think of salad, but adding in a roasted veggie or two can vary up both the flavor and texture of your salad. For example, roasted cherry tomatoes on top of an arugula salad can be utterly divine, or roasted peppers can bring more spice and crunch to any green salad.
And remember: a bit of burnt veggie is a good thing! Roasting your veggies until they burn slightly unlocks flavors that can only be tasted with a bit of charring.
Don’t want to add unnecessary carbs to your salad? Instead of bread-based croutons, why not try a cheese-based alternative?
Cheese croutons can be made using halloumi, a cheese made using goat’s milk. Simply cut the halloumi into cubes, add bread crumbs, and lightly fry until golden brown. Mexican panela cheese can also be used to make cheese croutons, as well as any cheese that doesn’t melt when exposed to heat.
You’ll find that these cheese croutons add both crispiness and additional richness that makes your salad utterly divine.
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