You’ve been making salad wrong – chefs’ tips help you stick to January diets

It’s January and for many Brits that means trying to get back in shape and eat more healthily, but after a couple of weeks the same old salads and soups can begin to get boring.

And, studies show that many of us give up on our New Year’s diet by January 19 – that’s just 13 days from now.

But, what can you do to stop yourself growing tired of healthy, vegetable filled foods?

Well, here at the Daily Star we know that there’s plenty you can do to pimp out your salads and make them taste totally delicious so that you want to eat them every day.

We spoke to three different chefs to find out their top tips for making a cracking salad – check them out below:

Roast your veg

Award-winning chef and author, Nitisha Patel, author of ‘The Delicious Book of Dhal’ said: “Treat your vegetables with the same respect you would with meat.

“One of my favourite ways to prepare a salad is to char some of the vegetables beforehand. I toss large slices of peppers, tomatoes, onions, courgettes, aubergines, carrots, tender stem broccoli (whatever veg you fancy really) in olive, sea salt and black pepper until well coated and then char on a hot griddle until tender.

“Chop into bite size pieces and tumble with crisp leaves such as iceberg or baby gem lettuce and you have yourself a wonderful smoky salad.”

Add texture

She added: “Add texture – salads don’t just have to be boring bowls filled with soggy leaves. As well as packing in flavour, it’s important to create texture too.

“Grains and pulses are a great way to add texture to a salad, some of my personal favourites are wild rice, Camargue rice, brown rice, quinoa, split yellow peas, split green peas, puy lentils and black lentils (remember to cook your lentils and pulses until soft before serving!)”

Sprinkles and toppings

And, Nitisha said: “Add sprinkles and toppings – a salad can be anything you want it to be, and the beauty of a good salad is all about personalisation.

“You can personalise your salad by adding sprinkles and toppings according to your preference.

“Some of my go to sprinkles are: mixed seeds and nuts such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pine nuts. I also like to add crispy fried onions, croutons or dried mixed fruits such as cranberries and apricots.”


Salad dressings

Meanwhile, chef Matt Sworder, chef owner of The Corner House restaurants in Minster and Canterbury and author of The Corner House cookbook, said: "Great salads are all about the dressing. In the restaurants we ensure the dressing is always perfectly balanced and this involves plenty of tasting when you are making something new.

“In the restaurants, we love to use a Dijon mustard based dressing but there are so many other flavours that work well.

“We also use homemade mayonnaise and for something like a tomato salad, we made a dressing using rapeseed oil, banana shallots, tarragon, a pinch of caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.”

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The dressing formula

He added: “Every salad benefits from a good dressing but only add at the last minute otherwise the leaves will wilt.”

And, pro chef Jaume Biarnes, head chef at Yondu’s Culinary Studio in New York, commented: “There’s nothing like the classic vinaigrette ratio to naturally highlight the flavours in your salad without overpowering: one part acid (vinegar or citrus) + three parts olive oil + one part Yondu seasoning for a kick of umami.”

You can also swap the Yondu for another savoury flavour like anchovy paste, mustard, porcini mushrooms, fish sauce, parmesan or truffle.

What's your favourite way to boost your salad? Tell us in the comments below…

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