A guide to making boss salads + 3 recipes

The mercury has hit 20 degrees today – taps ‘aff to my Scottish readers! Time to trade the soup bowls for salad bowls (or just use the same bowl for a different purpose) and fill up on healthy and nutritious salads. Yep, I did say fill up. People often say they find salads not substantial enough or that they’re boring, but it’s all about the ingredients, and a great dressing. So here’s my guide to building a proper boss salad! Plus three recipes at the end.

I usually make my salads just after dinner, utilising leftovers or chopping extra ingredients whilst prepping dinner. Food that’s more visually attractive is often more appealing so try and use a combination of different coloured ingredients.

Build a tasty and nutritious salad using the following combinations:


This is the foundation of all my meals as it helps you stay full, as providing lasting energy. Salads that lack protein aren’t going to fill you up. In salads I usually pick from chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, tofu, quinoa or a combination. See my earlier post on great sources of protein. I usually aim for a 1/3 of the salad to be protein. If using beans, lentils or tofu it’s best to flavour them first.


Most days my salads will have spinach, cherry tomatoes (I know, they’re technically a fruit…) and cucumber as I always have these in stock. If you don’t like spinach you could use lettuce, kale or rocket as a leafy base. Then I select two or three more vegetables e.g. peppers, carrots, broccoli, fennel, onion, cabbage, courgettes or beetroot. Whatever you like really! Most vegetables will be raw but occasionally I might roast peppers or courgettes or steam broccoli.


I used to be funny about fruit in salad but now I love it to add some sweetness or zing.  Mango and lime are best with spicy flavours. Apple, melon and pear go well with different cheeses. I like apple with strong cheeses, watermelon with feta and pear with feta or goats cheese. Orange is nice with nutty flavours. And of course, lime and lemon for the juice and zest.

Herbs and spices

Fresh herbs always add a punchy, fresh flavour. I usually focus on just one: coriander, basil, mint or parsley are my top fresh herbs. Where possible I use fresh spices: chilli or ginger are regulars, but dried spices (and herbs) do go a long way and are a great way to flavour a salad or dressing.

I’m still working my way through the huge bag of chillies from this stall!

Nuts and seeds

I don’t always use these but they are great for adding crunch, and extra protein! Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, mustard seeds and sesame seeds are staples in my kitchen. But I’m also fond of cashews, peanuts and pistachios, all of which go well with spicy or fruity ingredients. Seeds and nuts can be added as they are or roasted first.

Oils, vinegars and other liquids!

­Anything from just a dash of lemon juice to a dollop of pesto can transform a salad. I  use vinegars (red wine, cider and rice wine mostly), lemon or lime juice, olive oil, pesto, yoghurt, Henderson’s Relish, soy sauce, or any of the many chilli sauces I have in my cupboard. I try to use just one or two to get the flavour, and it depends on what herbs and spices I’m adding. Another alternative is to have a really plain salad but with some hummus or other dip on the side for some flavour.


I rarely add carbs to my salads. I’m most definitely not a no carb person but if it’s lunch then carbs can make me sluggish and I’ll prefer to snack more throughout the day. But sometimes I’ll add a bit of cous cous, or quinoa as mentioned above. Sometimes I might have oatcakes or crispbreads on the side. You could also add pasta or potato if you want to bulk the salad out.

Here are some examples of quick and easy salads to put together. All these salads can be adapted to your preference of ingredients and flavours.

Carrot, orange and chickpea salad with a sesame dressing

Ingredients (salad):

  • 1 carrot, sliced or grated
  • ½ fresh orange, sliced
  • 1 cup or tin of chickpeas
  • Other ingredients of your choice – I used spinach, cherry tomatoes, beetroot and red cabbage.

Ingredients (dressing):

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste (if you don’t have this, just use more sesame seeds)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Henderson’s Relish (optional)
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • fresh chilli (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Put all the chopped or sliced salad dressings in a bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients in another – if using tahini you may need to add this slowly to the liquid ingredients and add a splash of water if required to make a smooth dressing. Add the dressing to the salad.


Walnut, tofu and pear salad

This is a super easy salad you can get ready in under 10 minutes. I did so recently when I turned up late to a friends for dinner where I’d promised to bring a salad but didn’t have time to do some beforehand so grabbed these ingredients en route.


  • 1 bag of rocket or spinach
  • 1 ripe pear, chopped
  • handful of walnuts, roughly chopped (you can roast these if you have time)
  • 100g tofu, crumbled
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • black pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Bish, bash, bosh – done!

Puy lentil, avocado and grilled pepper salad


  • 200g puy lentils, cooked
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 100g of leaves of your choice (lettuce, rocket or spinach)
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Mix the lentils with the vinegar, mint and garlic. Lightly brush the pepper slices with a little of the oil and grill on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, so it is soft and slightly charred, but not burnt. Then mix with all the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the olive oil.

For another boss salad head over to my tofu and mango salad recipe. Hopefully this post has provided some basic inspiration. Remember, all these recipes are adaptable – it’s just about getting the flavours that work for you. Would be great to hear what your favourite combos are. Happy summer!

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