Fresh and crunchy – now that’s what I call a salad
Salads as vegan main meals
Ready for an extensive exploration of the wonderful world of salad? If you thought salads were boring side dishes or sad appetizers, then prepare to change your mind. More than just a bowl of greens, salads can be real explosions of flavour, bringing countless surprises to the table as full-fledged main courses. So fasten your seatbelts, we’re about to experience the most exciting salad feast bowls ever!
A piece of vegan history
Let’s start right at the very beginning and take a look at the origins of the leaf salads we are all so familiar with. These green wonders originate from Europe and have been an integral part of our cuisine for centuries. The original plant behind green salads is assumed to be wild lettuce, a steppe plant, widespread from southern Europe and the Near East to northern India. Yes! Salads actually have a long history! Wild herbs and the like were used as medicinal plants back in ancient times, but don’t worry, we‘re not going to put lettuce leaves on wounds today. Instead, we want to artfully transform them into delicious meals. They‘re usually raw (but sometimes cooked), spicy or fruity and sweet, used as a side dish, appetizer, main course or with party food. The green leaves are mixed with various other, often colourful, ingredients – and always a good dressing.
Toppings and more
But wait a minute, before we jump into the wild mix of salad bowls, let‘s talk about some unconventional and fun ingredients that you might not immediately associate with salads. They are more than just a topping, and prime examples of what fascinates us about salads.
How about, for example, fresh raspberries… to give your salad a fruity note? Basically, you can combine any fruit and berries in salads to ingenious effect. Our Velivery tip: season fruit and berries with salt and pepper (like you would vegetables). Take pepper for instance, it can bring out a whole new flavour in strawberries.
Nuts are known to be crunchy and substantial toppings. From cashews to walnuts and hazelnuts to almond slivers, anything is possible – whatever you want.
Naturally, no herbs are off limits – they give even the simplest recipes an exciting, fragrant touch. Just be careful not to use too many herbs at once! How about roasted nuts for extra crunch? You can also opt for more unusual ingredients like grilled vegetables, marinated mushrooms, grilled dumplings or even vegan cheese. Anything that tastes good goes! So let your imagination run wild and create a salad that will delight not only your taste buds, but also your senses!
Making salads wholesome
But how do you turn a simple leaf salad into a fully-fledged main meal? Well, here are a few tricks you can try.
Why not add protein-rich ingredients, liked fried (almond) tofu or marinated tempeh strips. We‘ve already mentioned the cheese alternatives. Not only will all these extras give your salad a savoury taste, they‘ll also keep you full for longer. Many vegan ingredients, such as vegan chicken alternatives or (tuna) alternatives, are extra high in protein and perfect for your next salad bowl.
Add to your salad with starchy vegetables like boiled sweet potatoes, pumpkin pieces or potatoes as well as grains and pseudo-cereals (for example, quinoa or couscous) to get the energy you need for the day. Lentils and other legumes are a perfect match for wholesome and delicious salads. Crunchy tip: just toast some bread and make your own croutons.
And don’t forget to add a colourful variety of crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs and a good pinch of humour to enrich your salad with vitamins, minerals and an extra dose of joy. And there you have a salad that’s delicious, a feast for the eyes and a fully-fledged vegan meal to keep you full and satisfied.
Vegan dressings – nothing is off the table
Now let‘s move on to dressings, key players on the salad scene. After all, what would a good salad be without a delicious sauce? You can use wonderful ready-made dressings or mayonnaise or mix it yourself. Let your creativity run wild again.
From classic vinaigrettes to creamy avocado dressings and exotic miso or tahini blends, there are countless ways to refine and finish your salad. How about a refreshing lemon and dill dressing to make your salad a summer hit? Or maybe an Asian soy and vegan honey dressing to blow you away with a hint of sweet and sour? You can also experiment with different oils, vinegars, spices and herbs and create your very own sauces. For instance, cucumber water is a great alternative to regular vinegar – just take the water from gherkins and use it by itself like vinegar. The pickled herbs will quickly refine a simple vinaigrette without minimal effort. Try it out and find your own personal dressing magic!
Now that you already have an idea of how diverse and delicious salads can be, let‘s take a look at the different twists that can turn salads into a creative and satisfying main course.
Bowls of happiness
Salad bowls are the latest trend and rightly claiming their place on our lunch and dinner tables. These colourful bowls are packed with a variety of ingredients that intertwine harmoniously with one another. Think Buddha bowls with quinoa, roasted vegetables, avocado, hummus and a creamy tahini dressing with a delicious sesame flavour. Or, as an alternative to classic rice salad, how about a Mexican burrito bowl with rice, beans, salsa, guacamole and crispy tortilla chips? Or a kimchi bowl. Another idea: lentil salad with mango pieces, ginger, lemongrass dressing and fresh coriander… The beauty of bowls is that you can customise them to your liking and add your own favourite ingredients. You can even combine different “cultures” and flavours, just as Hawaiian cuisine likes to do. So grab a big bowl, fill it with all your favourite ingredients, and make the bowls even brighter!
Salads in a wrap: deliciousness wrapped
Why just serve lettuce in a bowl when you can stick it in a wrap? Salads in a wrap are a great way to enjoy the freshness and flavour of salads in a handy and portable package. Take a spinach wrap and fill it with quinoa, roasted vegetables, avocado, sprouts, and a spicy sriracha dressing. Or what about a vegan Caesar salad wrapped with crispy romaine lettuce, crispy croutons, vegan Parmesan substitute and a creamy cashew dressing? The best thing about salad wraps is that you can enjoy them on the go. They‘re perfect as a healthy but nutritious meal for your lunch break at the office or for a picnic in the park. Just start with a large bit of green lettuce, fill it with delicious ingredients and wrap it into a salad wrap or use tortilla flatbread for it.
Salad as a culinary journey
All pasta and potato salads? Nothing against the classics, but why limit yourself to traditional salads when you can spice them up with international flavours? Try a Thai green papaya salad with crunchy vegetables, lime juice, chilli and roasted peanuts. Or delight yourself and your guests with a Mediterranean grilled vegetable salad with olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and an orange-oregano vinaigrette? And if you opt for noodles, then how about pink glass noodles. The world is full of delicious flavour combinations, and you can discover them all in your salad! Draw inspiration from different national cuisines and taste spices, herbs and dressings from all over the world. Venture out of your culinary comfort zone and get ready to travel around the world on your plate!
Salads are more than just a meal, they can become a genuine lifestyle. Here are a few fun points that show that salads are more than just a bunch of green leaves:
Who can come up with the craziest salad?
Have you ever taken part in a salad challenge? It‘s the funniest way to show off your creativity and cooking skills. Challenge your friends and family to create the craziest salad. Everyone can bring their own ingredients and grate, wash, season and eat together. In the end, a jury will decide on the winner. The best thing about salad challenges? Not only are they fun, but they can also lead to new gourmet discoveries! You‘ll be surprised at the flavour combinations and unusual ingredients your comrades-in-arms come up with. So challenge your loved ones and have a great time with the salad challenge!
Urban gardening: salad from your own garden
Another way to make lettuce a lifestyle is urban gardening. Grow your own lettuce in your own or community garden, in pots or even on balconies and windowsills. You‘ll be amazed at how much of a pleasure it is to watch your lettuce grow, from sowing to watering and harvesting. And the taste of home-grown salad is incomparably fresh and tasty. You can plant different types of salad, such as lettuce, arugula, lamb‘s lettuce and various leaf lettuces. You’ll also find wild herbs such as nettle, dandelion, goutweed and daisies in the garden, as long as they are not sprayed or contaminated. Bit by bit, you‘ll become a proud gardener and soon you’ll be enjoying fresh and healthy salads direct from your own patch every day. Urban gardening is a great way to hone your gardening skills and contribute to sustainability and conscious consumption. So grab your gardening tools and become an urban salad gardener! After all, growing your own always tastes better and gives you a satisfied, fulfilled feeling.
Pro tips for avoiding boring greens
Here are a few general tips for your next salad:
- Always ensure a balance of saltiness, sweetness and spiciness, thus appealing to all the taste sensors and highlighting the often-delicate aromas of ingredients.
- In addition to sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup or vegan honey alternatives can be used for sweetening.
- Salinity can also be achieved with a dash of soy sauce. One advantage of the dark Asian seasoning sauce is that it enhances the umami effect.
- Add a little salt and pepper to vegetables, fruit and berries if you like. Seasoning fruit (in particular tropical) is commonplace in many countries. For instance, a pinch of pepper (maybe a colourful) can create a real aha moment with pineapples, apples and pears.
- Love herbs? It‘s best to use notes of basil, sage, dill, etc. individually so that they do not overshadow one another in terms of taste.
- Dressings that consist of vinegar and oil need what is referred to as an emulsifier, a binder, so that they can be mixed well. The use of additives is completely unnecessary here. Take mustard, for example, it‘s a simple and popular way of binding vinaigrettes to perfection. For a real showstopper you could try a mango mustard. Vegan whipped cream alternative is the perfect emulsifier for creamy salad dressings like the famous Caesar salad dressing. Yet another instance where you can give free rein to your creativity.
Salad? Yes, please – but oh!
As you can see, salads are far more than just side dishes and appetizers. They can be transformed into exciting and satisfying main courses to delight the taste buds. From the origins and crazy ingredients to creative variations and sweet desserts (remember the fruit salads!) – salads have amazing variety to offer. Be inspired by the endless possibilities and discover the joy of salads. Whether you‘re a seasoned salad lover or a newcomer to the field, there‘s always something exciting to explore and enjoy. And remember – life is too short for boring salads!