This delicious salad isn’t just beautiful and colorful, it’s wholesome and filling too.
When it comes to salads, there are certain things that differentiates a good from an average one. When made right, a salad can be delicious and filling, a meal on its own. Although there are no set rules for salads and you can vary it according to your taste, there are certainly a few pointers to keep in mind.
Points to keep in mind to make a good salad
- Never leave your greens wet. Always tap dry your leafy greens after washing as much as possible. Otherwise there will be too much liquid in the salad resulting in a soggy salad.
- Add some fruit for sweetness. My top picks are apples, pomegranate, pears, figs, oranges and grapes. Just one or two variations of fruits is enough. Do not go overboard.
- Add some nuts or seeds for crunch. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, all make good additions in salad. They also make the salad more filling and provide you with essential fats and nutrients.
- Add herbs for extra flavor. Herbs like coriander, parsley, mint and dill are rich in phytonutrients. They add a nice aroma top the salas as well.
- Use seasonal produce. Using seasonal vegetables ensures that you are getting essential nutrients that are especially needed for the season. It’s also a great way of varying and keeping the salad interesting.
- Add a good dressing. A dressing that compliments the flavors and textures of your salad is very important. The most basic one is made from olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. You can choose your own add-ons like balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, tahini, nut butter etc and be creative with your dressing.
Did you know? Adding olive oil in a salad doesn’t only make it taste great. It also increases the bioavailability of salad greens, making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. One more reason to add a dressing to your salad.
For this salad, I sticked with the vegetables that are easily available to most of the people around the world. But you can of course add or modify vegetables/fruits according to your choice.
Ingredients at a glance
- Cooked Quinoa: Being rich in protein, quinoa makes the salad filling. Click here to get instructions on how to cook quinoa.
- Pomegranate: I love the sweet and sour taste and the texture that it adds.
- Paneer: We marinate our homemade paneer into the mustard, honey dressing first before pan frying it to golden perfection. The caramelised crust of the paneer is just amazing.
- Cherry Tomatoes: I prefer using cherry tomatoes over other varieties as these are sweeter and have more nutritious benefits.
- Onion: Use red onion for salads whenever possible. It is milder in flavor and hence a better pick for salads.
- Cucumber: Use the small (Persian) variety of cucumbers. The bigger (English) cucumber has a higher water content and could result in a soggy salad.
- Spring onion: I like to add spring onion for its many health benefits, especially for its phytonutrients. Slice it nice and fine so it looks pretty too.
- Dressing: For this salad I like a dressing made of olive oil, lemon, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. This dressing has a good balance of sweet, sour, salty and also contains a kick from the mustard.
Watch the video below to easily follow the recipe.
Paneer and Quinoa salad
For the dressing/marinade:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp mustard paste (senf)
- 1 tsp honey
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- a few grinds of freshly crushed black pepper
For the salad:
- 150 gram Paneer (cubed)
- 1 medium Persian cucumber
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes (or 1 medium sized tomato, diced)
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 stalks spring onion
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
For the dressing/marinade:
- Add all the dressing/marinade ingredients into a small glass jar. Put the lid on and give a it good shake until everything is well combined.
For the salad:
- Pour the prepared marinade onto the cubed paneer. Coat the paneer pieces with the marinade all over. Keep side until the vegetables are being prepared.
- Dice the cucumber into bite sized pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Slice the onion into rings. Finely slice the spring onions. Transfer the vegetables into a big salad bowl.
- Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat and grease lightly. Once hot place the paneer pieces all over the pan and fry until golden brown. Reserve the leftover marinade to use as dressing later. Flip sides and continue frying until 2-3 sides are golden brown. Take off heat and let it slightly cool down until we move on to the next steps.
- Add the cooked quinoa and pomegranate seeds to the salad bowl.
- When the fried paneer has slightly cooled down add it to the salad bowl as well.
- Pour the leftover marinade over the salad, that we reserved earlier. Toss the salad together to combine everything well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- You could prep the salad ahead of time by marinating and frying the paneer, and cutting all the vegetables. Store the vegetables, paneer and dressing separately. Add the dressing and toss just before serving the salad.
- You can modify the salad according to your preference. Add the vegetables of your choice, or replace the quinoa with brown rice, couscous or bulgur.
- If short of time, you can skip frying the paneer. Marinate it as instructed and add to the salad at the end.