The humble salad, with its endless variety and mix of healthy and nutritious fruits vegetables, proteins and grains is often a great choice for any meal.
Yet how often would you overlook a salad for something that looks more appealing to the eye? That’s because we attribute an ‘artistic value’ to our food, scientists at Oxford University have said this week.
To test the theory, they created an abstract masterpiece entirely out of salad, replicating Kandinsky’s Painting Number 201.
The ‘artwork on a plate’ was then pitted against a salad that had been thrown together in the centre of the plate and a salad whose ingredients had been laid out individually on a plate.
While the three salads all contained the exact same ingredients, 60 participants rated the Kandinsky-style salad best for flavour and enjoyment. They also said they would be willing to pay twice as much for the creative salad.
Published in the journal Flavour, researchers say the study suggests artistic influence can enhance a diner’s rating of the flavour of a dish.
Diners intuitively attribute an artistic value to the food, find it more complex and like it more when the culinary elements are arranged to look like an abstract-art painting,” they wrote.
The findings help confirm the old adage that we eat with our eyes and that our tastes are affected by a combination of senses.
So how can we apply this finding to our every day eating?
A home packed lunch is a great low-cost, nutritious option. But, by the time we get to it later in the day, our lunch can often look less appealing – think soggy greens and mushy vegetables.
However there is a nifty solution that’s taking the Pinterest world by storm – salad in a jar. While not a revolutionary idea, by simply stacking your salad ingredients upright in a glass jar you can ensure a fresh looking and tasting salad every time while on the go.
The premise is that you stack your ingredients properly you will have a perfect salad every time. Begin by placing your dressing and/or wet ingredients at the bottom of the jar, the layer hearty or heavier vegetables on top, like tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers – because of their proximity to the dressing they should also be things that taste goo marinated. On top of this you can layer proteins or grains like eggs, beans, rice, quinoa, pasta, chicken, ham and tuna. By this point you should have a nice barrier to protect against the wet and ingredients which means its time to add the lettuce or greens. Lastly, if you like you can add nuts, seeds, grated cheese or any other crunchy dry toppings you like in your salad. (See image below).
Travelling with the jars upright in your backpack or bag will mean your salad in a jar stays in tact all day. All you have to do is shake up and place in a bowl when your ready. The longevity of the salad packed in such a way means you can also make a weeks worth of lunches in advanced and have them tasting and looking fresh every day you eat them.