Summer is finally here, and with the rush of sun, warmth, and daily activities, our appetites increase as well. This is also the favoured season for many fans of do-it-yourself healthy dishes because it offers the greatest variety of fresh ingredients as well as an incentive to keep things especially lean (beach body, anyone?). Here are a few salad recipes to get your creative juices flowing.
Keep it green
A favourite summer salads involves cucumbers, walnuts, dill, and pumpkin seed oil. It is so simple yet so fresh and light that I cannot get enough of it. Cucumbers come from the family of gourd. They are 90% water and, thus, offer rehydration, and walnuts and pumpkin seed oil replenish us with proteins and essential fatty acids. Dill, fresh or dried and ground, adds a little sweetness to the green mix. Feel free to add cheese or different nuts and make a fun edible cocktail!
An Italian classic with a twist
Tomatoes are my favourite “vegetable which is actually a fruit”. Something about them screams with life and passion! The classic tomato-mozzarella slices salad recipe can be reinvented to match the lean summer vision by making the mozzarella low-fat and holding the vinegar in favour of some extra olive oil whose monounsatured fatty acid content will increase your good cholesterol.
One of my favourite salad recipes from the Balkan region is known as “Greek salad”. It includes equal amounts of cubed tomatoes and cucumbers, grated carrots, a little diced red onions, green olives, and feta cheese, also in cubes. Douse that in olive oil and sprinkle with oregano for some local flavour. The carrots will add some useful beta-carotene to your diet and jack up your vitamin A levels. Their sweetness blends nicely with the salty cheese and olives, making this a salad of contrasts.
Middle Eastern delights
The first regional salad recipe that comes to mind here is tabbouleh made of bulgur, diced tomatoes, tons of fresh parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil as main ingredients. It leaves a lot of room for experimentation: change the seasoning as you please, and maybe even try chickpeas, couscous, or even rice instead of bulgur.
When it comes to eating light, nothing gets lighter than the leafy vegetables. Slice up some cabbage or salad leaves and balance their sweetness with some naturally bitter lemon juice. Even out the taste with some olive or basil oil.