Salads are ideal for making the most of the bountiful harvest of fresh produce. Basing them on flavourful grains such as barley and couscous creates a fresh yet hearty side or meal. Bonus: Reinventing last night’s leftover chicken, beef, pork, beans or fish as the feature ingredient in tonight’s salad is a time saver, and there’s little cleanup required.
Add Wow Factor
The brilliant reds, yellows, purples and greens of fresh or grilled vegetables make for a stunning dish. Invest in a vegetable spiral slicer or learn different cutting techniques, such as julienning, to create impressive presentations. Garnish your salad with flavourful chopped fresh herbs, fresh berries, or toasted seeds and nuts to elevate the dish.
Cooking with Grains
The simplest dressing of oil and acid (usually vinegar or lemon juice), plus flavourings such as garlic, mustard, chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper, will moisten your salad and brighten its taste. You can make your dressing creamy with a little mayo, sour cream or buttermilk, too. (Try our easy DIY dressing recipes.)
Try these salad recipes for inspiration, but don’t get too attached – the basic formulas are easy to adapt to whatever you have in your fridge.
1. Make a colourful Grilled Vegetable & Salmon Bow-Tie Pasta Salad with al dente bow-tie pasta, and cherry tomatoes, green beans, sliced zucchini and salmon. Toss with a tangy garlic and chive vinaigrette.
2. To whip up hearty Grilled Pork & Pesto Orzo Salad, brush pork loin chops with thyme and lemon pesto, grill and slice them, and then combine with orzo, bocconcini, arugula, peppers and red onion. Pesto dressing gives it zip.
3. Treat your guests to Moroccan-Style Turkey Koftas with Couscous Pilaf. Serve grilled spicy turkey koftas on a bed of couscous tossed with currants, apricots, pistachios, parsley, salt, cumin and cilantro.
4. Make a beautiful Grilled Shrimp & Warm Potato Salad by tossing barbecued baby red spuds, zucchini slices and shrimp with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette.
5. Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Quinoa Salad is quick to make. Simply toss cooked quinoa with chopped blanched asparagus, cherry tomato halves, crumbled goat cheese, fresh basil and a basic red wine vinaigrette.
6. To create Middle Eastern–inspired Couscous Crunch Salad, mix whole-wheat couscous with sundried tomatoes and sultana raisins. Combine thinly sliced green onions, Sundried Tomato California Dressing and fresh lemon juice. Combine couscous mixture and dressing with crunchy toasted pine nuts and slivered almonds, as well as fresh parsley.
7. Fresh parsley, chives and mint are the star ingredients in fresh-tasting Brown Rice Tabbouleh. Toss them with cooled cooked brown rice, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and a lemon–garlic–olive oil dressing.
8. To make cool and slightly crunchy Barley Dill Salad, combine barley with cucumber, grape tomatoes, celery, a balsamic dressing and chopped fresh dill. Just before serving, sprinkle with toasted almond slivers.