Thursday, 13 August 2015 AT 11:49 AM IST
The key to making a hearty salad is to include the right type of ingredients.
You’ve bought lettuce and some creamy dressing from the store but somehow the salad you make comes out mediocre, unappetising and definitely doesn’t fill you up. You wonder how people eat salads. Sounds familiar?

The key to making a hearty salad is to have the right type of ingredients. If all you are adding is cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes to lettuce, then obviously it is not going to be a robust and satisfying meal.

Here are some components you can incorporate for making a successful salad:

-Protein: This is the key ingredient that will keep you full. There are so many options like hard-boiled eggs, chicken and seafood for non-vegetarians. This can be leftovers or made beforehand. Canned tuna comes in handy as well.

Cheese, paneer and legumes are some options for vegetarians. Practically any legume — chick peas, lima beans, moong, masoor, rajma — you make our daily curries with can be boiled, salted, spiced as desired and added to the salad. Remember to soak and sprout them beforehand.

-Something sweet: A bit of sweet offsets the monotony of tang in the dressing or salt in the cheese. It also adds more nutrition. Try any seasonal fruit, for example guava with lettuce and masoor topped with balsamic vinaigrette — yes, it tastes great. Apples, pears, grapes are salad staples and available most of the year. Dry fruits add bulk. Raisins, dates and figs are some favourites that will make the salad taste delicious.

-Get nutty: In addition to protein, nuts give your teeth something to bite into adding texture to the salad. Use almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews.

-Good fat: There are two basic types of dressing — vinaigrette and creamy. For vinaigrette, you use extra virgin olive oil and a type of vinegar and then flavouring. Creamy dressing can be made with a mixture of various dairy products such as sour cream, curds and heavy cream. Check out the recipe in the box.

-Veggies: This is why you eat a salad — to get all the goodness of vegetables. Include a variety of fibrous raw vegetables such as chopped raw beetroot, carrot and sweet potato, and any other vegetable you like. Your salad doesn’t have to be just leaves, but include those too for the benefit from the greens. A variety of lettuce is available and you can use a combination. Use cooked vegetables — I love to mix roasted carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum, cauliflower and broccoli in my salads. Two-thirds of your salad plate should be vegetables and greens. The remaining one-third can be protein, fats and grains.

-Grains: Adding healthy grains will make your salad a meal. Brown rice, whole-wheat kernels, dalia taste great in a salad. You can try quinoa and couscous as well.

Spinach & Beet Salad with Chicken:


Ingredients:

Boneless, skinless chicken breast..    .225 gm
Olive oil..    .2 tbsp
Maple syrup ..    .1 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar.    .1 tbsp
Mustard..    .1 1/2 tsp
Soy sauce..    .1 1/2 tsp
Pepper (freshly ground)..    .1/8 tsp
Spinach (chopped)..    .2 cups
Iceberg lettuce (chopped)..    .2 cups
Beet (large)..    .2
Feta cheese (crumbled)..    .1/4 cup
(Use local Indian cheese, grated if you cannot get feta)
Walnuts (chopped) ..    .2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

-After cleaning the beets, cover with aluminum foil and place in heated oven (220 degrees Celsius) for about 40 min. After cooling, cut beets in half and slice.

-Place chicken in a small skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover; bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle for 10 to 12 min. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

-Meanwhile, whisk oil, syrup, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp dressing in a small bowl.

-Add spinach and lettuce to the large bowl; toss to coat with dressing. Divide the leaves between two plates, top with chicken, beets, cheese, and walnuts. Drizzle with remaining dressing.