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Bulk up your salad

Salad ingredients3

There’s something about the sun and warmer weather that makes me want to eat more healthily.

The thought of anything fried or stodgy no longer fits the bill. I crave food that reflects my mood; food that is fresh and light, yet wholesome. In other words, salads.

Salads can get a bit of a bad rep for being unfulfilling. That largely depends on your preconception of a salad. Although leaves and a few tomatoes technically constitutes a salad, the likelihood of this filling you up is slim. You need to add elements which retain the health benefits, while constituting a meal that doesn’t have you reaching for snacks a couple of hours later.

Going with the grain

I like to do this by adding healthy grains to my salad. One of my favourites is quinoa. I tend to make a batch of quinoa – I boil it with a little vegetable stock – and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It normally keeps for around five days, and I toss it with leaves, grilled chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella for a fresh, filling lunch.

Alternatively, Merchant Gourmet does sachets of ready-made quinoa, which you can buy from most major supermarkets. You can eat it hot or cold and it’s very convenient for those nights where you are time short but still want to eat healthily.

Lentil arithmetic

Lentils are another major player in my salads. One of my favourite recipes is puy lentils, cooked in a little stock and red wine, tossed with fresh spinach, sunblush tomatoes and feta cheese.

Serve with your chosen meat on the side, or have a big bowl on its own. This is so moreish, I always have friends asking for the recipe.

Buck the trend

Buckwheat is a grain that works well in salads, too. I cook it similarly to how I prepare quinoa and often serve it drizzled with fresh lemon and topped with chick peas, falafel and hummus. This is one of my favourite desk lunches as it transports well and keeps me full for the whole afternoon.

Quick fixes

A really quick and easy salad that can be made in less than five minutes includes, rice, beans, spinach and avocado. Heat a sachet of brown rice – as per packet instructions – then pour into a bowl with a good few handfuls of spinach and a can of mixed beans in tomato sauce (you can find this in all major supermarkets). Finally, add a chopped avocado and some seasoning and voila, you have a delicious, nutritious, filling salad.

Harder, pasta, stronger

For those of you who prefer pasta in your salads, the options are endless. I tend to use brown over white and, providing there are more vegetables than pasta itself, it still falls well within the salad realm. Combinations I like – although they take a little more time – are leaves, roasted vegetables and pesto, or prawns, tomatoes and lots of rocket and lemon.

How do you like to bulk up your salad? Are there any grains I have missed?

Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.


Buckwheat salad
Lentil salad
Pasta salad
Quinoa salad