Salad recipes for a summer body

Spring has sprung and we are all amped to leave our homes and hit the streets, masks in tow.

But after six months stuck indoors, thanks to a global pandemic, we may feel a bit sluggish and heavy since we have been eating everything in sight. No judgement there!

Summer is 11 weeks away and that’s enough time for us to get our bodies ready for the holiday party season. We all have swimwear that we need to fit into again and clothes we barely wore at the beginning of the year because of the pandemic.

One way to do that is to eat right, and that’s where salads come in. But we’re not talking about the ordinary green salad.

How about making salads work for you by adding some grains? Unprocessed grains are better for our bodies and have many health benefits, so we should try to include them as often as possible in our diets.

They also have a low glycemic index (GI), which is good for controlling blood sugar levels.

ASIAN CHICKEN AND PEARLED SPELT SALAD (Serves 6-8)

Asian chicken and pearled spelt salad. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Ingredients

375ml pearled spelt grain

750ml water

4 chicken breast fillets

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 carrots, cut into thin ribbons using a potato peeler

1 red pepper, cut into thin strips

1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced

50g sugar snap peas

100 green and purple beans, cut into 2cm pieces

100g cashew nuts, toasted

DRESSING

45ml soy sauce

45ml hoisin sauce

45ml rice vinegar

10ml sesame oil

25ml sweet chilli sauce

15ml honey

Method

Put the spelt grain into a pot with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes until the grain is tender.

Drain and rinse. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and season well.

Cook in a pan until done. Remove and set aside to cool.

Cut the chicken into strips. Toss all the ingredients together with the pearled spelt and drizzle over the dressing just before serving.

ITALIAN BUCKWHEAT SALAD (Serves 6-8)

Italian buckwheat salad. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Ingredients

375ml dehusked buckwheat

1 litre of boiling water

5ml salt

250g streaky bacon, crispy fried

350g exotic tomato mix, halved

200g fresh peas, blanched in boiling water

400g tin of black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed

125ml flaked almonds, toasted

250ml chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper

DRESSING

100ml olive oil

45ml white wine vinegar

15ml honey

salt and pepper

Method

Put the buckwheat into a pot and dry-roast on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water and salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the dressing and serve.

DRESSING: Combine the ingredients in a jar, close the lid and shake until well emulsified.

MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE PEARL BARLEY SALAD (Serves 6-8)

Mediterranean-style pearl barley salad. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Ingredients

375ml pearl barley

1.125 litres boiling water

2ml salt

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

3 red onions, cut in small cubes

30ml olive oil

15ml dried oregano

salt and pepper

1 cucumber, seeded and diced

125ml sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

60ml chopped green olives

100g feta, crumbled

60ml chopped fresh mint

10ml grated lemon zest

DRESSING

100ml olive oil

15ml lemon juice

30ml red wine vinegar

5ml dried oregano

15ml honey

salt and pepper

Method

Stir together the barley, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain and rinse under cold water, then drain again well. Transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile, combine the peppers, red onion and dried oregano on a baking tray.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Roast at 180°C for 20 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the barley.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients, pour over the dressing and serve.

DRESSING: Whisk together all the ingredients until well combined.

BULGUR WITH SALMON AND FENNEL (Serves 6-8)

Bulgur with salmon and fennel. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Ingredients

375ml bulgur wheat

750ml boiling water

415g tin of salmon, bones and skin removed and flaked

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch of radishes, sliced

1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced

1 small cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed and sliced

60ml chopped fresh dill

salt and pepper

DRESSING

100ml olive oil

30ml lemon juice

30ml lime juice

10ml Dijon mustard

15ml honey

salt and pepper

Method

Put the bulgur and boiling water into a bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to stand for 10 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed.

Fluff up with a fork and mix in the rest of the salad ingredients.

Gently mix until combined. Pour over the dressing.

Season with extra salt and pepper if necessary and serve.

DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients and whisk until well combined.