If you are looking for a tasty yet nutritious meal, then perhaps a marinated vegetable salad might be just the thing. This can make a satisfying main course as well as being a delicious accompaniment to many other dishes.
If the thought of a salad meal conjures up images of a limp lettuce leaf or two accompanied by a sorry looking tomato, then perhaps now is the time to think again. Salads needn't be a boring selection of raw vegetables. Instead. they can be a tasty meal with a rich combination of different tastes and textures. One easy way give the humble salad a make-over is to marinate the vegetables before serving.
What Is a Marinated Vegetable Salad?
A marinated vegetable salad is a salad where some or all of the vegetables have been marinated. This means that the raw vegetables have been left to soak in a flavored dressing or marinade prior to serving. The vegetables are left to marinade for a period of time that can be as short as 30 minutes to periods as long as 8 hours or overnight. The length of time will depend on the types of vegetable and the marinade. This marinade will add flavor to the vegetables while keeping their crisp texture.
Types of Marinade
A marinade is made of three components. This is oil, acid and seasoning. The oil can be any type of oil including olive or vegetable oil and this keeps the vegetables moist. The acid used in a marinade will typically be lemon juice or vinegar. Wine vinegars work particularly well. The seasonings can provide piquancy, such as garlic, ginger and chili or sweetness such as honey or brown sugar. The seasoning can also simply provide added flavor by the addition of salt and pepper or fresh herbs. There are many different types of marinade that are suitable for vegetables. These cover many different types of cooking from Asian inspired marinades, through to Mediterranean style dressings and many more in between. The type of marinade that you pick for a marinated vegetable salad will depend on your own tastes and what the salad is to be served with.
Vegetables for Marinating
All salad vegetables can be marinated in a dressing before serving raw. Many other vegetables are also suitable for marinating, although they may require cooking. Vegetables such as aubergine, for instance, can be marinated before cooking or lightly cooked and then marinated. Vegetables that work particularly well in a marinade include artichokes, zucchini, onion, pepper, mushroom, sprouts, aubergine (cooked) and cauliflower. In addition to vegetables, other foods such as pasta and rice can be added to vegetable salads and these work well with many marinades.
Vegetables with High Water Content
The marinade will draw water from the vegetables. Vegetables with a high water content, such as tomatoes, should either be marinated separately or added towards the end to avoid them releasing too much water and diluting the marinade.
A great addition to a marinated vegetable salad is marinated tofu. Tofu is a soy product that is rich in protein and low in fat and this makes it ideal for both vegans and vegetarians. Adding marinated tofu to a salad is a good way to add important nutrients while also providing a tasty and flavorsome accompaniment to the vegetables. Tofu can also be lightly fried or baked before adding it to the salad.
Here are some basic marinade recipes. These are simple to adapt and can be used with a variety of dishes. To make the marinades, simply mix all the ingredients together well before pouring them over the prepared vegetables.
Honey Mustard Marinade
- 2 tbsp grain or French mustard
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- juice and zest 1 lemon.
- 2 crushed red chillies (without seeds)
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 fluid ounces wine vinegar (red or white)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
Asian Inspired Marinade
- 1 lime, juice only
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh lemon grass
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
With such a wide variety of options to choose from, a marinated salad need never be boring and can make a tasty and nutritious treat for all the family.