The salad agenda

So common at the dinner table. Usually executed poorly.

As a vegetarian, salads have become a huge component of my meal plan. Especially because I’m working and studying at the same time. I want to be able to taste the rainbow but feel full, satisfied and energised after my meal. A common misconception is that a salad is a three ingredient, lettuce, tomato and cucumber + ranch dressing combination.

It’s no wonder it’s hated so much as a meal. There’s no protein, carb and zestiness to that above combination. If I were given a plate of that, I’d throw it out of the window as well.

As an aspiring chef and a very picky eater, there’s three things I’ve concluded when it comes to ensuring I enjoy my meal. The first is obviously taste. The second is the vivacity of the meal. And the third is depth. There should be layers to my meal. Textures. Different sounds. Different areas of my tastebuds being used.

Another common misconception is that a salad needs greens to be healthy. Not true depending on what you’re adding. Sometimes I don’t want to eat spinach and kale. Sometimes I want a salad a little more on the adventurous side, while still remaining lean and clean.

After inspecting our pantry, fridge and freezer for ingredients, I decided to throw together my interpretation of a Mediterranean salad “bowl”. My favourite thing about this, is barring the fruit I added, all the ingredients are found in a fridge/freezer. They’re affordable and filling – perfect for a night where you want a lighter option but still want to cook. As it’s starting to cool down here in Sydney, there’s nothing better than a warming salad to keep you fuelled, full and satisfied.

In total, this dish took me 30 minutes to make – prep and cutting time inclusive. The ingredients are all interchangeable and this salad can be modified to your own taste and preference. It’s a vegan, low sodium salad that can work with essentially any vegetable and meat of your choosing.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 1 zucchini
  • Half of a yellow capsicum
  • 1 truss tomato (you can use whatever tomatoes you like)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernals
  • 1 fresh fig
  • 1/3 a small pomegranate
  • juice and flesh of a quarter of an orange
  • lemon
  • black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • salt and dried red chilli as per preference
  • A generous handful of mint and fresh coriander, soaked and finely chopped.
  1. Dice your ingredients to your preference bite size and leave separated
  2. In a medium sized pan, heat a small amount of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, tumeric and cumin seeds
  3. Sautee your onion with the spices on a medium heat until the onion starts to become translucent
  4. add in your tomatoes, peas and corn, and continue to combine for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add in your zucchini, capsicum, salt and chilli flakes and cover for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the vegetables are tender, toss in your boiled chickpeas and combine for another 2 minutes.
  7. Dice your fig and extract the pomegranate seeds.
  8. In your preferred utensil of choice, lay down the warm vegetables and chickpeas.
  9. Top with the fruit and herbs to garnish.
  10. Combine the pulp and juice of the orange, lime (depending on your acidic preference) and black pepper.
  11. Let the dressing sit for 5 minutes to allow the citrus and spice to infuse together
  12. Drizzle over your salad and enjoy!

My favourite thing about this dish is not only how easy is is to make and prepare, but how it satisfies my picky eating habits. There’s texture and oomph in every bite. The spiciness from the chilli and pepper is accentuated through the sharp kick from fresh coriander and mint. The combination of roasted vegetables and chickpeas provide a sense of homeliness and comfort. The juxtaposition of the sweet fig seeds crackling with every bite and the tangy juiciness of the pomegranate seeds provide the perfect amount of kick and moisture to the dish.

I’d say this is definitely another favourite salad. There are no pesky spinach leaves that are too big to fit into my mouth, but I’m still tasting the rainbow with every bite.

xx Simran

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