How to create the perfect salad every time

How to create the perfect salad every time

I often show my meals on my Instagram Stories and I’m frequently asked to write a post about how I make my salads. I thought it was just something everyone did but you lot tell me otherwise so here is my post on it! Amongst my family, I have been referred to as “Queen of the Salads’ (I may have started this myself tbh). I guess I do have a bit of a system to my salad creations. I’ve eaten salads most days for years. It’s how I ensure I eat a nutritious diet – one big salad gives you so many of your five a day. They are so nutritious and tasty and so versatile.

I'm known for making pretty great salads! Here's my tops tips to create the perfect salad every time...
It’s controversial but I’m a fan of fruit in salad – especially mango on a zetsy salad

Every time I make a salad I have a number of elements I use to build it.

Components of the perfect salad

  1. Salad base – for me this is usually a combo of types of lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I usually buy a bag of mixed lettuce every couple of days. It’s better (for the environment and cheaper) to buy an actual lettuce but I’m a busy mam of two young kids and two jobs so I tend to just do what’s easiest right now. I often go for either an iceberg lettuce, carrot, cabbage type mix or a dark (peppery) green leaf mix – like spinach, rocket and watercress.
  2. Protein – this is essential. If you don’t have a lot of this then you’ll be hungry again in no time. Some of my favourites are mackerel, salmon, eggs, chicken breast and prawns but most things work. I find a dark peppery leaf mix works great with oily fish like mackerel. I often buy the tins of mackerel in brine and keep them in my cupboard for ease. Then I’ve always got a topping for my salad in a pinch. Oily fish is great for your omega 3s too. Cheese can add a lot of fat and protein to a salad and is a very tasty addition, I love feta, mozzarella and halloumi on a salad. Sausages/pulled pork/bacon etc can add protein and a nice salty flavour kick.
  3. Something sweet – to balance the salad out I’ll always add something sweet. My favourites are sweetcorn, red/orange peppers, sun blush tomatoes and beetroot. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds makes salads look so pretty. I like to have as many colours in my salad as possible.
  4. Something sour/salty/spicy – maybe you want something a bit more pungent to your salad – gherkins, spring onions, olives, red onion, mustard and horseradish can spice up a salad. If you love spice then why not add some chilli or spices to give your salad a kick. A squeeze of lemon or citrus juice can be zesty addition.
  5.  Carbs – I often leave carbs off my salad as I prefer the veg and protein to carbs and would rather double up on those but if you need/want carbs in your salad then pre-cooked quinoa, pasta, rice, noodles, potato/sweet potato all make great additions to a salad.
  6. Texture – consider the texture of your salad, have you got enough variety? Or do you still want some crunch? Roasted cauliflower/broccoli, pea shoots, green beans, radish, sugar snap peas, spring onions, nuts/seeds can transform a garden salad into something much more exciting to eat. I love roasted vegetables in a salad.
  7. Seasoning/dressing/fats – if you aren’t watching your calorie intake then avocado is always great in a salad, adding both flavour and texture. Some kind of dressing is essential to bring the salad together. You can’t go wrong with simple sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. I use an olive oil spray so I don’t use too much. A little drizzle of balsamic glaze or vinegar on top of sea salt and olive oil is great. I’ve a recipe for a Japanese style salad dressing that is fresh and tasty, I’ll add it below. I also buy some supermarket salad dressings. Herbs can add depth to a salad here – for example, fresh coriander, basil, parsley or mint can transform a salad and smell divine.
I'm known for making pretty great salads! Here's my tops tips to create the perfect salad every time...
Potatoes and eggs are a perfect salad combo

Salad top tips 

  • Go big or go home – don’t be scrimping on portion sizes with salads. I fill up a dinner plate high, otherwise you’ll get hungry again fast
  •  If you want to take salads to work or out and about for lunch then buy some little reusable dressing pots (affiliate links) so that your leaves don’t get all soggy. I also like these bento type glass lunchboxes (affiliate link) so I can pop different things in different sections.
  • Use leftovers – salads are a great way to use up leftovers. So many things work in a salad. You know when you order an Indian takeaway and you get the bag of salad no one eats? Keep it, then the next day, make an Indian salad with the leftover meats. Leftover onion bhaji – break it up and mix it through. Christmas – leftover turkey and cranbury sauce salad. Just get creative with it. The main thing is getting a bunch of veg and protein in to your diet.
I'm known for making pretty great salads! Here's my tops tips to create the perfect salad every time...
DAT bar in Newcastle does the best tuna nicoise

My super easy basic ‘Japanese style’ salad dressing recipe 

  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil 

Mix all of this together and it will create around 8 servings of a tablespoon each.

I'm known for making pretty great salads! Here's my tops tips to create the perfect salad every time...
Can I have extra halloumi with my halloumi please?

Do you have a favourite salad? Let me know what it is in the comments. If you would like to see some of my specific salad recipes let me know in the comments as well and I’ll start posting some as and when I get chance.

If you are interested in my recipes and what I eat don’t forget to follow me on my Instagram stories where I post most my meals daily.

If you liked this post, you might like my one pot halloumi hash recipe.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve made myself hungry and now I’m off to make a salad…

I'm known for making pretty great salads! Here's my tops tips to create the perfect salad every time...

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy a product through one of these links you won’t pay any more but I will receive a small fee for referring you (generally pennies). For my full disclosure policy, please see my about page.

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9 Comments

  1. Sue
    February 8, 2019 / 14:40

    Yessssss finally thank you!!!
    More recipe posts too please!
    Intrigued by all your slow cooker meals! Like when you add the veg in with a whole chicken… does the veg get soggy? Does the chicken taste good?
    Your slow cooker curries… what do you add in? All these questions!! 😂

    • February 10, 2019 / 16:37

      Ok I’ll do those ones next, thanks Sue!

  2. February 8, 2019 / 14:56

    Love this! I’m a salad fan too but have been a bit rubbish lately, mainly just been too busy to get the fresh ingredients regularly enough. My absolute fave topping is soft goats cheese, walnuts and pomegranate seeds – amazing! You’ve inspired me to get back on the salads from Monday! Melis

    • February 10, 2019 / 16:37

      That sounds yummy, love goats cheese!

  3. Matthew Savage
    February 8, 2019 / 15:50

    That dressing sounds really good – will have to try it. Never been a fan as usually it’s a creamy dressing when I’m out but people seem to be doing better with intolerances these days so a whole world is opening up! Keep up the recipes

    • February 10, 2019 / 16:38

      Thanks Matt! There has been such a change in recent years with dairy free options hasn’t there

  4. February 10, 2019 / 09:25

    OMG I’ve just realised how pathetic my salads look after reading this – you really are the Queen of Salads! Mine are always the same – Rocket, Tomatoes, Cheese and some mayo – that is it!

    • February 10, 2019 / 16:39

      Haha, yeah I do go all out! I love a good salad

  5. February 27, 2019 / 18:14

    I am always in awe of your salads, and they never look boring. I am definitely going to create some as reading this post at teatime has just made me VERY hungry x

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