I'm 'that person' that genuinely loves a salad. I probably wouldn't go so far as to say that my heart races at the sight of a plate of ice berg lettuce and cherry tomatoes though; I'm talking about salads that can stand up as meals (mealads? sameals?). Salads that are packed to the brim with flavour, freshness and COLOUR! Salads that are satisfying and don't leave you looking for a piece of peanut butter toast after dinner, or to the 'hidden', open bag of corn chips in the cupboard (Hi, husband!)
The brown rice and lentils in this salad provide the fibre, protein, and complex carbohydrates that will keep you feeling full. The colourful root vegetables are high in antioxidants and vitamins (and are delicious!) and contribute to the overall nutrient profile of the meal. I also find that the roast veggies keep the salad interesting and provide bursts of flavour and texture, which should help for those of you that remain unconvinced by the thought of a salad as a meal.
2-3 cups of root veg, diced into bite-sized pieces (I like a mix of sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot and celeriac)
3/4 cup brown rice
3/4 cup brown/green lentils, rinsed
Approx. 4 cups water
1 tsp dried vegetable stock
2-3 cups shredded greens, i.e. spinach, rocket, kale (finely sliced red cabbage is also a nice addition - I tend to use a mix of both)
1 bunch of fresh green herbs (I like a mix of parsley and coriander)
2 cups of finely diced raw veggies (i.e. green beans, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, cucumber etc.)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon seeded mustard (optional)
Water to thin (if required)
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius and lightly oil a roasting tray. Place all of your root vegetables onto the tray and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Place the roasted veg into a large salad bowl.
Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan and add the stock. Add the brown rice and set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, add the brown lentils and cook for another 12 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are cooked to your preference (remember, brown rice will stay a little bit chewy). Drain and place in the salad bowl, refrigerate.
Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
To make the dressing, simply combine the ingredients, whisk to combine and pour over the salad. You may prefer to make the dressing and then dress the salad each day to avoid it getting soggy, rather than all at once.
Change it up!
Changing to a creamy dressing totally changes the taste of the salad.
Limey, creamy, avocado dressing (makes enough to top 2-3 large salad portions, depending on your love for avocado/dressing in general)
1 avocado, scooped from flesh and mashed
1 tbs greek yoghurt
1 tsp white miso paste (optional - add it in if you've got some lying around)
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to thin (if required)
Simply mix it all together until nice and smooth and then either mix through the salad, or dollop onto individual plates.
If brown rice is not your cup of tea; quinoa, pearled barley, farro or freekeh also work well (rice and quinoa are your best bet if you're steering clear of gluten).
Similar if the thought of lentils leaves you uninspired, top with some grilled, lean meat (preferably organic and responsibly sourced), salmon or tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or alternate legumes like black-eyed beans.