Salads are awesome! Fresh, healthy, nutritious, colourful, tasty, low cal, low carb and low fat! But sometimes they can lack bite, texture, mouth feel, substance and heart. Below is a list of veggie friendly options to add to your salads to provide you with your daily dose of protien, crunch and calories!
1. Tofu, Quorn and Tempeh
Meat alternatives are generally a staple of a vegetarians diet, tofu, tempeh and Quorn are all packed full of protein and are readily available everywhere. They are so easy to add flavour to, are extremely versatile and can effortlessly ‘meat up’ a meal. Try marinating your tofu first to add a depth of flavour and this way you can tailor it to match the taste of the salad. I love using a lemon and mixed herb marinade or for something a little different, a chilli flake and garlic oil crust.
Chickpeas come in many different varieties and each has its own merits and distinctions. Firstly, tinned chickpeas are a quick and cheap way of adding some bite to your salad. Just drain the tin and stir the peas through your veggies (I like to marinate my chickpeas in lemon juice and black pepper first then toss them through the salad, but I have a huge lemon juice and pepper addiction.)
You can also head down the falafel route if you’re having a middle eastern style salad. Falafels go perfectly with tabbouleh and a lemon (yes, I know) and parsley dressing.
And of course, you can’t have a section on chickpeas without mentioning hummus. It’s such a great accompaniment to veg, especially the more sweeter varieties like carrots, capsicum and sweetcorn. I like chunky hummus the best, I love finding a whole chickpea and feeling it pop in my mouth #thebestfeeling
3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have always been a vegetarians friend, they are also great if you are following a low carb diet plan as they are high in protein and low in sugar and carbohydrates. I love just sprinkling a few cashews, almonds or walnuts over a simple leaf salad. Or adding a handful of flaxseed or chia over a warmed, roasted veg dish.
For double protein (and flavour!) try grating a few cashews and using the crumbs as a crust on chunks of oiled tofu, bake in the oven for half an hour and you’ll have an excellent salad filler.
Everybody loves a good mushroom dish, especially salads! Adding chopped, fried, mushrooms to a salad can instantly transform your side salad in to a main event. A little salt and pepper in the pan, a touch of soya sauce to really ramp up those umami flavours and your ready to serve with your favourite vegetables. For even more mouth feel and to satisfy those umami cravings try serving with carrots, tomatoes and a sprinkling of rennet free parmesan.
Obviously not one for the vegans out there, but for vegetarians cheese is a great protein source. I love creating a Greek feel by adding oregano marinated feta to salads or frying up a few slices of hallumi and simply serving it along side some roasted tomatoes, red onions and crunchy cabbage. The textures and flavours work really well together and it makes a great little lunch dish.
Remember these are merely a few ways of adding veggie proteins to salad, if you have something wonderful up your sleeve please feel free to comment below and share your veggie experiences.