This summer salad is a great quick lunch fix on a warm summer day. Vibrantly colored vegetables drizzled with a fresh, flavorful home-made dressing makes for part of a satisfying, yet light lunch that will leave you feeling refreshed and energetic.
Ingredients (Serves 4 as part of a meal):
- Tomatoes (1 large) (cubed)
- Cucumber (2 Persian cucumbers or ½ an English cucumber) (cubed)
- Bell peppers (red, yellow – ½ each) (cubed and sauteed in high heat for a few minutes to increase digestibility)
- Spinach leaves (3 cups)
- Cabbage (1 cup) (shredded)
For the dressing:
- Extra Virgin Olive oil (1 tbsp – optional)
- Lemon juice (1 tbsp)
- Salt (to taste)
- Sugar (1 tsp)
- Black pepper powder (freshly ground) (1 tsp)
- Cut vegetables into desired shapes and sizes. You can get creative in choosing your vegetables for this salad. Choose seasonal vegetables. Other good vegetable choices for this salad are celery, broccoli (you can cook it slightly by immersing in hot water for a couple minutes), shredded carrots and sweet corn (lightly cooked). You may also add fruit like orange wedges, cubed apples, grapes, mango chunks to this salad. You may add tofu chunks (slightly browned or as is, depending on your preference), garbanzo or red kidney beans (soaked overnight and cooked – avoid canned if possible), pumpkin/sunflower seeds, nuts like slivered almonds, walnuts etc.
- Add all the dressing ingredients just before serving the salad and toss.
Sweet (sugar, oil, cucumber, cabbage) sour (tomatoes, lemon juice), salty (salt), pungent (pepper), bitter (spinach), astringent (spinach, cucumber).
Salads, being raw, are harder to digest than cooked foods. People with a strong digestive fire (e.g. pitta individuals) may find that salads suit their constitution, provided their digestive fire (agni) is working optimally. But even such people should choose salads in late spring and early summer and not during winter and fall type of weather.
Kaphas who don’t have very strong digestive fires should eat salads sparingly and not make this their main meal. Go slow on the “heavy” ingredients like nuts, kidney beans, oils (don’t eliminate them, just use them sparingly) for kapha individuals or during kapha season (spring).
Even vata individuals should not eat too much of salad. Salads are in general vata aggravating due to their cold, dry, light nature. When salads are not digested well, they may result in flatulence and bloating, which are by-products of incomplete digestion. This may ultimately result in unwanted bodily toxins. In general, legumes like kidney beans are considered harder to digest by vata body types, so use sparingly. Oils can be used generally by vata individuals and kind of offset the dry nature of salads to better suit the vata constitution.
For both kapha and vata individuals, it will be a good idea to make the salad “warm” by adding more spices, even lightly cooking some of the vegetables will help.
So it is important for one to take into consideration the constitution and season among other factors before choosing salad.
In general, Ayurveda considers cooked, lightly spiced foods as sattvic since these are easy to digest and positively affect the mind and body. Since salads are raw and not that easy to digest, they may be considered rajasic in nature due to the disturbances they may cause during digestion. If made with balanced spices, consumed in optimal quantity (not too much), lightly cooking some of the ingredients and keeping seasons in account, salads can also be sattvic in nature. The good thing is that being fresh and minimally processed (cooked), salads do have optimum prana/life force, which is considered as a sattvic quality. The rajasic quality of this salad can be increased if too much oil or salt or pepper is added. Stale ingredients will increase tamasic qualities of the salad.
Cold, dry (without the oil in the recipe), moist (with oil in recipe), rough, light (oil adds some heaviness to the salad, so you can play with the amount of oil to adjust this attribute).
Ingredients that tend to produce heating effect are oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, tomatoes, bell peppers. Ingredients that tend to produce cooling effect are cucumbers, cabbage, sugar.
Depending on the treatment before serving this salad, it can be made “cool” or “warm” as mentioned earlier. Choice of vegetables, slightly cooking the vegetables and adding more spices can make the salad warm. Raw ingredients and reduced quantities of spices can make the salad cool.