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Building blocks of a salad

What can I put in a salad?

For years, salad has unfairly had a bad rap for being bland and boring, but a well-constructed salad is anything but! By learning the simple steps for building a good salad, you can create a whole range of exciting, healthy dishes all year round.

We use basic ingredients here to demonstrate the fundamental building blocks of a salad, but this is just the beginning – use these as guidance but get creative with ingredients! Try swapping out the ingredients with the ones suggested below and as you get more confident in the kitchen, let your creativity shine.

You will need:

  • A protein source; try chicken, turkey, ham, roasted chickpeas, kidney beans, tofu, black beans, Quorn pieces, eggs, cheese, prawns or other fish/shellfish
  • At least 2 vegetables; they can be fresh or roasted. Tomatoes, carrots, peppers, peas, broccoli, aubergine, sweetcorn, olives, asparagus and cauliflower are just a few options. Or try fruits such as oranges or watermelon!
  • Base leaves; you can buy lots of varieties of mixed salad leaves or try making your own combinations. Gem lettuce, rocket, iceberg lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, lamb’s lettuce and watercress are all great options.
  • Dressing; again, you can buy pre-made dressings or easily make your own at home. If buying a dressing, look for low sugar varieties.
  • Extras; these are optional but make a great addition to salads, adding texture and flavour. Try nuts (pecans, peanuts, walnuts, cashews or almonds, raw or roasted), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax, sesame), dried fruits or nutritional yeast (a good source non-animal source of vitamin B12). Watch out for toppings like bacon bits and croutons which are often deep-fried.

 A step-by-step guide to creating your salad

  1. Chop your vegetables and (if roasting), place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season and roast for 20-30 minutes at 180c.
  2. Meanwhile, roast your nuts/seeds and make your dressing (if not using pre-made)
  3. Assemble your salad; add your base leaves, top with vegetables, add your protein source, drizzle over your choice of dressing and top with your extras!

Top tip; for a more substantial meal, try adding grains such as rice, bulgur wheat or couscous.

Thanks to our placement Nutritionist Shelley for creating these videos and blog posts.

Browse healthy cooking tips

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