Try these wholesome salads

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

Try these wholesome salads

A salad is healthy,  nutritious and yummy.   Sangeeta Sen gives you tips on preparing a few exotic ones

The idea of ‘salata’, or salad, perhaps does not conjure up images of much culinary greatness. It simply means an ensemble of onion rings, woolly tomatoes and lemon rinds, piled up in a glass bowl. Yet, there’s something more to a salad.

In fact, a salad with an innovative combination of ingredients having distinct flavours, textures and, above all, innumerable health benefits is gradually being looked upon as a significant gastronomic landmark today.

Take for instance, the Salade Niçoise. As I plumped myself for this exotic salad at a fancy restaurant that was serving authentic French cuisine, the taste of the salad seared deep in my memory. More importantly, from the point of view of health, this salad was an epitome of perfection.

I found that the Salade Niçoise is packed with healthy ingredients like the carbohydrate-rich potatoes that boost energy levels, spinach and beetroots with sufficient magnesium levels that help reduce the blood pressure, green beans that contain anti oxidants like zeaxanthin, Vitamin E-rich black olives that prevent cardio-vascular ailments as well as tomatoes with lycopene levels high enough to combat serious diseases like lung, prostrate and even stomach cancers. Furthermore, the crushed garlic cloves act as powerful natural antibiotics.

Then, the shrimps in the salad are lean proteins with low calories; while the high levels of choline in the hard-boiled eggs help build body tissue.

Preparation of the authentic Salade Niçoise requires about 200g shrimps (or small-sized prawns), cleaned and deveined; 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered; 2 cups of spinach, washed thoroughly and chopped; 3 medium-sized cooked potatoes, cut into wedges; 2 medium-sized cooked beetroots, cut into quarters; 100g green beans, cooked until just done; 2 medium tomatoes, quartered as well as a handful of black olives. An authentic salad dressing requires 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1 teaspoon of low-fat mustard ketchup; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 4 tablespoons olive oil; a pinch of salt and black pepper.

Lay the chopped spinach leaves on a broad plate. Grill the shrimps till they turn soft and then, flake them over these spinach leaves. Add the green beans, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes and the black olives. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk well all the salad dressing ingredients and pour them  over the shrimps, eggs and the vegetables. Finally, the healthy Salade Niçoise is ready.

Then, there’s the healthy Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip Salad. According to a medley of healthy food sources, the purple eggplants in this salad contain disease-fighting anti-oxidants like nasunin. Minerals like calcium in the sesame seed paste, popularly called tahini, promote proper bone health. In addition, there are the delightful parsley herbs that lead to healthy digestion.

A holistic treat of this salad requires 1 medium-sized eggplant; ½ cup tahini (or a fine sesame seed paste made by blending a few roasted sesame seeds; any vegetable oil and some salt); 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; juice of 1 lemon; a handful of chopped coriander leaves; 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste. Grill the eggplant till done.
Subsequently, peel the eggplant and mash it using a flat spatula. Add the sesame seed paste, crushed garlic cloves, lemon juice as well as the olive oil. Mix well. Finally, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on it and serve.

Some also prefer the Persian Rice Salad. This salad has the carbohydrate-rich brown rice, dates with a high nicotinic content that can cure intestinal disorders, easily digestible green spring onions as well as copper-rich cashewnuts that contribute to a proper working of the skin tissues. Above all, the presence of cinnamonadehyde oil in the aromatic cinnamon spice helps calm the mind.

Preparation requires 1 ½ cups of any vegetable broth; 1 cup long-grained brown rice; ½ cup roasted cashewnuts, chopped; ½ cup sliced dates; 2 green spring onions, cut into thin slices; ¼ cups each of lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon spice; 1 cup heart-friendly olive oil and salt to taste. Whisk the lemon juice, chopped coriander leaves, ground cinnamon and the olive oil to form the salad dressing and keep aside. Now, in a pan over a gentle flame, cook the brown rice and the vegetable broth until the rice turns tender. Transfer the brown rice to a bowl. Add the cashewnuts, dates, spring onions as well as the salad dressing mixture. Toss to coat all the ingredients well. Finally, season with some salt and enjoy.

Yet, another salad option would be the Uborka Saláta, or the Hungarian Cucumber Salad. The cucumber has been shown to contain the erepsin enzyme that boosts energy levels. Then, the quercetin-rich onions have anti-bacterial properties; while high levels of Vitamin C in paprika and the ground black pepper help fight common infections.

Preparation requires 2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into thin slices; 1 onion, sliced into thin pieces; 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ cup sour cream; 2 tablespoons vinegar; some freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Marinate the sliced cucumbers and the onions using some salt for a while. Subsequently, squeeze out the water from this mixture. Mix thoroughly the sour cream, vinegar, black pepper, salt and a little water. Stir into the cucumber mixture. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve.

Also, centuries-old ayurvedic texts recommend the Mixed Corn Salad. Interestingly, this exotic salad has healthy ingredients like the chickpeas that are rich in dietary fibers, corn with high folic acid levels that lead to a proper enzyme metabolism, fresh ginger and cumin powder that stimulate a healthy digestion as well as the Vitamin C-rich lemon juice and black pepper powder.  

Preparation requires 1 cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight and then cooked until tender; ½ cup boiled corn; ½ teaspoons each of some minced fresh ginger and dry roasted cumin powder; 1 teaspoon lemon juice; a sprig of chopped coriander leaves; a pinch of black pepper powder and salt to taste. Prepare a salad dressing by mixing well the minced ginger, salt, black pepper and cumin powders as well as some salt. Subsequently, mix this salad dressing with the chickpeas and the boiled corn. Toss thoroughly to coat these ingredients well with the salad dressing mixture and, finally, serve the ayurvedic Mixed Corn Salad.

A salad definitely heralds the path to good health.

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