Salads are so versatile: healthy and inexpensive meals that can be thrown together using endless combinations of ingredients and a little creativity.
Dressed up or pared back, a salad can be as simple as tossing a few green leaves in a bowl or served as a main meal packed with vegetables, grains or your choice of protein.
Read on for two quick and healthy ideas from Salad by Janneke Philippi.
Basil salad with polenta balls
Golden yellow fried polenta balls, stuffed with olives and rocket (arugula), are the stars of this salad. Feel free to make them a few days in advance and keep them covered in the fridge.
Pre-prep: 40 minutes
Waiting: 3 hours
Prep: 15 minutes
125 g (41/2 oz) polenta
3 tablespoons pitted
handful of rocket
handful of grated
90 ml (3 fl oz) extra-virgin
6 small tomatoes
1 large bunch of basil
1 spring onion (scallion)
olive oil, for frying
handful of young lettuce
1 tablespoon capers
Cook the polenta in 1 litre (34 fl oz) of water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Roughly chop the olives and rocket. Mix the olives, rocket, parmesan and 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil through the polenta. Leave the polenta to cool for 30 minutes. With wet hands, roll the polenta into 24 balls. Place on a tray and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until extra firm.
Halve the tomatoes. Pick the basil leaves and tear or roughly chop. Thinly slice the spring onion and cut the lemon into wedges.
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the polenta balls for 8–10 minutes, until golden brown all over; be careful as the hot oil will spit!
Mix the lettuce leaves with the basil, spring onion and capers. Divide the salad among four plates. Place the tomato on top of the salads and drizzle with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil.
Arrange the polenta balls over the salads and serve with the lemon wedges for a fresh accent.
Spinach + Butter lettuce Salad with chicken poached in coconut milk
I like to make this salad in the spring and summer, when fresh young peas are sweet and crunchy. Poaching the chicken in coconut milk keeps the salad light and fragrant. You can serve the chicken warm over the salad or leave to cool in the poaching liquid so that the meat remains tender.
Prep: 30 minutes + cooling
400 ml (131/2 fl oz) tin coconut milk
1 chicken stock cube
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemongrass stalk
200 g (7 oz) fresh shelled peas
1 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
100 g (31/2 oz) butter (Boston) lettuce
100 g (31/2 oz) baby spinach
2–3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1–2 teaspoons chilli flakes
Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan along with 400 ml (131/2 fl oz) of water, the stock cube and the chicken. Bruise the lemongrass stalk and add to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently poach the chicken for 15 minutes. Let the chicken cool in the poaching liquid to lukewarm or room temperature.
Cook the peas for 8 minutes, then drain and set aside to cool. Slice the shallot. Coarsely chop the coriander.
Arrange the butter lettuce leaves, spinach, shallot and peas on four plates. Slice the chicken (reserving the poaching liquid) and place on the salads with the coriander.
Strain the reserved poaching liquid and spoon it generously over the salads as a dressing. Drizzle with the sesame oil and sprinkle with the coconut and chilli flakes to taste.
Salad by Janneke Phillipi is available now. Photography by Serge Phillipi.
February 2, 2022