Here in South Africa, we’re somewhere in the middle of a beautiful hot summer. One of my summertime favorites here is Johannesburg is the late-afternoon thunderstorms that arrive every couple of days to cool down the earth after a few very hot days. Another favorite is weekend get-togethers with family and friends, which almost always comprise of a braai, abundant salads and roast veggies, swims in the pool, and ice cream for dessert. Ice-lollies, bicycle rides outside in the afternoon rain, holidays at the beach, and long afternoon naps – summer is great 🙂
This is the season where we usually enjoy eating refreshing salads, unlike in winter where comforting stews and roasts usually make the cut. Summer salads can be so simple to prepare – cool, crisp herb leaves and chopped vegetables, all brought together with a light, refreshing dressing or plain olive oil. Add in a cooked grain, like millet or brown rice, plus a bit of protein and you’ve got a complete meal.
Today’s recipe is my take on a really simple salad that is packed with the goodness of all different leaves and veggies, accompanied by a tasty citrus dressing that makes the salad taste of summer. I found the cutest baby vegetables at Woolworths during the course of last week and just couldn’t resist buying them. The fact that they’re all miniatures isn’t a make-or-break requirement for the recipe – normal radishes, carrots, and spring onions will do just fine (I just really loved that they were so tiny, it made for great photos).
The leaves that I used to make the salad were the Asian Baby Salad Leaves from Pick-n-Pay. The selection leaves, which included coriander, beetroot greens, and a whole lot of other greens that had a slightly bitter taste, really worked well with the radishes and spring onions, and contrasted with the sweeter citrus dressing. I had such fun photographing the salad and dressing, with their vibrant colours that make me think of summertime 🙂
There’s not much to say about all of the ingredients that I used to make the salad and dressing, but I have a few quick facts to encourage you to eat veggie-packed salads more often:
- Vegetables are really good for you, full stop. They are packed with fibre, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients, which all play important roles in maintaining health and preventing disease in humans.
- Eat the rainbow! Try and use a variety of different veggies of all different colours to make your salads. Different coloured vegetables contain different types of phytonutrients, many of which have been shown to be ‘superheroes’ when it comes to keeping you healthy and strong.
- Eat with the season. It can be tricky to work out what fresh vegetables are in season when shopping at a supermarket like Woolworths or Pick-n-Pay (here in SA). Look out for tags on the label that say things like ‘in season’, ‘now in season’, ‘homegrown in SA’, and ‘product of ____’ to get an idea of the veggies that are grown locally and those that are imported from overseas. Choose to buy those that are in season, and substitute where possible. If you receive a weekly/monthly vegetable box from a local farmer, that’s great! You’ll more than likely have a variety of veggies on hand to work with that are in season.
- Make your own dressing (or just keep it simple). By making your own salad dressing or vinaigrette you’ll avoid consuming the unnecessary sugar, less-healthy oils, and/or preservatives that are found in commercially produced alternatives. Even better – Keep it simple! Use extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar to add an extra dimension to your salads. Chop up herb leaves, such as mint, coriander, parsley, or chives to add extra flavour.
- Mix it up a bit. Change up the proteins and carbohydrates that you use in full-on meal salads. Roasted and sliced chicken, beef strips, a boiled egg, goat’s cheese, tofu or tempeh, legumes such as chickpeas or lentils – protein choices are wide and varied. Similarly, use brown rice, quinoa, millet, roasted sweet potato, or any other low GI carbohydrate to bulk up your salad. Be creative! You can’t really make a mistake when making salad 🙂
- 1 bag Baby Asian Salad Leaves (PnP)/Baby Herb Mix (Woolworths)
- 4 large spring onions
- 1 large carrot
- 3 large radishes
- OR treat yourself and buy a box of Woolworths Baby Vegetables
- 1 handful of onion/beetroot/alfalfa sprouts
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 Tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Optional: salt, pepper, and honey to taste
- Set out the baby herb leaves on a large plate or in a large salad bowl.
- Slice the spring onions, radishes, and carrots into thin round slices. Sprinkle over the salad leaves and gently toss to mix everything together.
- Sprinkle the sprouts over the top of the salad.
- Drizzle some fresh citrus dressing over the salad to serve.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Serve with the Summer Salad above.