Grill, toss and serve
It’s the everyday glitches that can really get to you. The dishwasher finally slumps into a death roll, full of dirty dishes, you singe your favourite shirt with the iron, the bill from the garage has an extra zero on the end of it and the car still won’t start in the morning.
When you hit overload, the first thing to go out the door is usually eating properly. Just thinking about dinner feels like one step too hard – let alone cooking it. It becomes all-too-easy to resort to opening packets and pouches to reheat and ‘assemble’ or hitting the redial button for your favourite takeout. You know things are really grim when you can’t actually get into the cupboard for the overflow of takeout containers.
At this time of year, when there is so much great produce to choose from and the weather is still hot and summery, my go-to strategy for getting a yummy meal on the table in a flash is to make a salad, bake or grill some chicken or fish or fry or barbecue some haloumi or steak and toss it all together with a tasty dressing. Just by changing out the salad ingredients and the flavour profiles of the dressing you can create so many variations.
What I really like about this kind of cooking is that it’s less about following an actual recipe and more about using whatever combination of ingredients you have to hand to make a tasty meal. You’ll save some money and boost your nutrition by treating vegetables and complex starches as the heroes on the plate and using only small amounts of good quality protein.
I often make a marinade that doubles as a dressing, as it’s an easy way to create a rounded, balanced flavour profile in the salad. A quick caution – be sure to separate out some of the marinade at the start, to use for your dressing later. You can mix the cooked meat juices into your reserved ‘clean’ marinade, but don’t use raw marinade that has had fish, chicken or meat in it as a dressing, as it’s a sure-fire way to get food poisoning.
Some easy quick toss-and-serve salad combinations
- Slather chicken or fish with salsa verde, pesto or tapenade before cooking and make a salad with tomatoes, rocket, olives and cucumber. Serve with rice or crusty bread on the side.
- Mix a spoonful of laksa or curry paste with a little yoghurt and spread it over fish or chicken before cooking. Make a salad with rice, cucumber, red pepper, peanuts and coriander.
- Mix thai sweet chilli sauce with a little lime juice and zest and drizzle this over fish or chicken before baking. Toss through slaw with some cooked or soaked noodles.