With a bit of imagination, you can make your salads sing! Serve it up with your low-carb meal!
Making a truly delicious salad requires a little bit of thought. While there is nothing wrong with a bog-standard side salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber... the usual suspects), it's hardly something to write home about. Salads can be a main event! If you look at salads with a little more of a creative spirit, you can create truly delicious dishes, that also happen to be incredibly healthy. Whilst we love low-carb pizza, low-calorie southern-fried chicken and all things indulgent-but-healthy here at Lo-Dough, we also believe in enjoying a balanced diet. A perfect salad is all about contrasting textures, flavours and in some cases temperatures, packing a variety of different food types into the one dish, which ultimately means a broader spread of nutrients. You get to eat something delicious and your body gets a bigger hit of the good stuff - win-win!
First of all, whenever you are making a salad, get your ingredients out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you want to put it together. Just allowing the ingredients to come up to room temperature will dramatically improve their flavour. Another tip: Don't keep your tomatoes in the fridge. The cold temperature affects the cell structure of the tomato and they will actually lose a lot of their flavour and aroma. The best bet is to buy the ripest tomatoes you can and keep them in the fruit bowl.
Now your ingredients are up to room temperature, think about lightly seasoning them before arranging on a plate. Tomatoes and cucumber's flavour is dramatically enhanced by a little salt. On the subject of cucumber, we recommend scraping out the seeds - they are mostly water anyway and will dilute the overall flavour of any mouthful they are in.
Finally - think about how you cut the ingredients. It might sound obvious, but how an ingredient is cut will affect how you experience eating it. Think about a classic Greek salad - it's big, bold and robust - most of the ingredients are chopped in fairly large chunks all roughly the same size. Then think about the famous Italian Caprese salad, the tomato and mozzarella are sliced fairly thin and served with whole leaves of basil. Then going all the way to the other end of the scale - a parsley and caper salad needs its shallots slicing as finely as you possibly can - they need to be light and delicate so as not to overpower anything (in fact this is generally true of onions in salads).
Next, think about the composition of your salad. You want contrasts. Hot and cold, sweet and sour, soft and crunchy. An oft-overlooked addition to salads is fresh fruit. Not just common salad fruits like tomatoes and avocado - we're talking slivers of apples, slices of pear, segments of orange, pomegranate seeds and even soft berries - raspberries and blackberries - these can all work well in a salad, though depend a lot on what it's been served alongside. They'll all offer sweetness and juiciness that'll need to be balanced with a little acidity, which will most likely come from a dressing (more on that shortly).
Shredded cabbages, Brussel sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower all work well, cooked and raw. Cruciferous vegetables also happen to be low-carb, which might suit your diet/lifestyle. If using raw, these vegetables will need slicing as finely as possible to make them a pleasure to eat. You can check out our knife skills 101 blog for some tips for improving your technique with a blade.
Whatever vegetables/fruits you put on the plate, you're gonna want something else - something less vegetal! You could (and indeed, should!) try Lo-Dough croutons. Working as a low-carb bread replacement for the humble crouton, you can drizzle some chopped or torn pieces of Lo-Dough with oil and gently bake with garlic and herbs and/or some grated Parmesan for delicious, but incredibly low-carb croutons. Not only that, but you'll be given a massive fibre boost, which will help keep you fuller for longer. Alternatively (or additionally), you could try adding toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds.
Dress to impress
Dressings will make or break a salad. They are also where most of the calories and (in many shop-bought dressings) sugars will be found. A classic French dressing is generally about three parts oil, to one part vinegar and one part mustard, plus seasoning. For optimum health benefits, we'd recommend making with either extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Italian salads are more likely to be dressed more simply - extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
If looking to avoid oils, you could just add a spritz of lemon and a good pinch of seasoning over your salad. Alternatively, you could make a flavoursome fat-free yoghurt dressing (three parts yoghurt, one part vinegar, one part mustard, plus seasoning and maybe some chopped herbs).
If looking to make a fantastic main course salad or just something to serve on the side of your latest Lo-Dough creation, try mixing it up and trying something new! Bon appetite!