The great modern philosopher Homer Simpson once declared, “You don’t win friends with salad.” But in this singular case, we are going to have to disagree with our four-fingered friend. We’re not talking about the sad limp leaves that appear beside your pub steak (on that point we’ll concede to Mr Simpson), but colourful, robust salads that keep you feeling full.
Main course salads are the perfect meal; they require little effort to make, are full of nutrients, and can be bulked up or pared down depending how hungry you are. Building a sensational, crowd-pleasing main course salad is easy if you just follow these simple principles…
Start with your protein element and build your main course salad around it. This will be the hero ingredient, but more importantly, a good dose of protein will keep away the hunger pains and the siren’s call of the vending machine.
Suggested proteins: chargrilled chicken, thin slices of steak, smoked salmon, canned tuna, poached or hard-boiled egg, crumbled hard goat’s cheese, cottage cheese, canned chickpeas, smoked tofu, lentils, quinoa
Think about textures
When it comes to being interesting, a well-made salad beats meat-and-three-veg every time. Not only should it be visually pleasing with an array of colour all tossed together in the bowl, but every bite should be a burst of flavours and textures.
Suggested texture combinations: soft salad leaves + crunchy croutons, shredded cabbage + creamy coleslaw dressing, oxheart tomatoes + sliced avocado, roast pumpkin + pepitas, macadamias + mango + cucumber ribbons, walnuts + parmesan cheese, watermelon + feta
Dressings make the salad
The dressing is the last, but vital component. It can be creamy, tart, lemony or fresh, but it should create a harmony by linking all ingredients together with a common flavour element. There are three basic parts to a dressing: fat (olive oil, mayonnaise, sesame oil), acid (vinegar, lemon juice) and seasoning (salt & pepper, fish sauce). Depending on your salad, a little sweetness can be great, too – perhaps a pinch of brown sugar or a balsamic glaze.
Suggested dressings: extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar, mayonnaise + lemon juice + garlic, vegetable oil + lime juice + fish sauce + brown sugar, sesame oil + Chinese rice wine + soy sauce + fresh chilli, green goddess dressing
Need more salad inspiration? Check out our collection of 30+ Amazing Main Course Salads.