Protein-packed salads - Women's Running UK

Protein-packed salads

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  July 22, 2016

savage salads

When Italian chef Davide Del Gatto and former restaurant manager Kristina Gustafsson from Sweden noticed the lack of healthy food options in most London food markets, and also the lack of creativity and flavour in the few salad options available, they decided to reinvent the traditional salad for London locals, opening a brand new food stall offering brilliantly exotic salads. Their salads are packed full of punchy flavours and are rich in healthy, wholesome and nutritious ingredients. These recipes, taken from their new book Savage Salads: Fierce flavours, Filling power-ups (Frances Lincoln, £16.99), are rich in recovery-boosting protein, making them a great meal option to tuck into post-run.

Seared Tuna Fillet, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Red Onion, Basil, Croutons


The tomato salad here takes inspiration from a classic Italian dish called panzanella. It’s a Tuscan salad with tomato and bread and it’s a seasonal mainstay at our stall. We love it with red onion, capers and basil – it’s perfect with fresh tuna, but also good as a little side dish.


Serves 4

  • ½ loaf unsliced white bread
  • 100ml/3½fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150g/5½oz cherry tomatoes
  • 30g/1oz basil, chopped
  • 1tbsp small capers
  • ½ red onion, very finely diced
  • 30ml/1fl oz red wine vinegar
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 3 red (bell) peppers
  • 4 tuna fillets, about 200g/7oz each
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. First, make the panzanella. Preheat the oven to 120C/250F/Gas mark ½. Stale bread is best for making croutons. Cut the bread into roughly 1cm/½ in cubes and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for about one hour, or until the bread is completely dry. Remove from the oven and drizzle the croutons with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and leave to cool.
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes and put them in a large bowl with the croutons, basil, capers and red onion. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil, mix well, add the sea salt and set aside. The tomatoes need time to macerate and the croutons need to soak up a good deal of the liquid.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cook, skin-side up, under the hot grill for about 15 minutes until they char and soften. Most of the skin will lift away from the peppers, so discard the bits that are easy to remove, but leaving a little gives a nice smoky edge to the flavour. Cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush with a little vegetable oil. Place them into the hot pan and sear each side for about 40 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t be tempted to add extra oil to the pan as they will be too difficult to handle and will overcook. When cooked, remove and cut into 5mm/¼ in slices, then arrange on plates with the panzanella and peppers.
  5. Dress with basil and rocket pesto (recipe below).

Basil and Rocket Pesto (serve with the seared tuna salad)

This is our take on the classic basil pesto with the addition of rocket for a lovely peppery taste. The best way to make this is to roughly chop everything by hand rather than blitzing it all in a blender. Make sure you add the rocket (and keep tasting) as you go along, as some types are more peppery than others and it can easily overpower the basil. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes a lot better than the ones you buy in a jar. If you have any left over, cover it with olive oil and put in the fridge – it will keep for a week.


Approx 4 servings

  • 20g/¾ oz pine nuts
  • 30g/1oz rocket (arugula)
  • 30g/1oz basil
  • 30g/1oz parmesan, grated
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a low heat for 5–10 minutes, turning the nuts frequently until they are golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Chop all the dry ingredients very finely, including the toasted pine nuts, then place in a bowl and mix together with the olive oil.
  3. Grate in the parmesan and season to taste.

Green Beans, Peas, Broad Beans, Runner Beans, Hazelnuts, Soy Sauce


This is an Asian-inspired salad made from a mix of the best vegetables that spring has to offer. The beans and peas only need a couple of minutes in boiling water to soften them up slightly – you still want to keep that crunch. The vivid green colours are a dazzling celebration of spring.


Serves 4

  • 100g/3½ oz shelled fresh peas
  • 100g/3½ oz fine green beans
  • 100g/3½ oz runner (string) beans
  • 100g/3½ oz shelled broad (fava) beans
  • 1tbsp Japanese soy sauce
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 50g/1.oz/ hazelnuts, roughly crushed


  1. For every 100g/3½ oz fresh peas you will need about 300g/10½ oz peas in the pod – the same applies for the broad beans, if you’re using fresh – look to buy three times in weight as what you expect to use, to avoid any shortfall.
  2. Top and tail the green beans and runner beans. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, remove the fibrous edges of the runner beans from top to bottom.
  3. Blanch the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 2–3 minutes, then remove and cool under cold water. Pop the beans from their cases and set aside. Cut the runner beans widthways quite thinly – no more than 5mm/¼ in. Chop the green beans in half.
  4. Blanch the peas, green beans and runner beans together in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil together in a large bowl. Add the peas, beans and hazelnuts to the bowl, mix well and serve.
  6. This dish can also be served cold – just refresh all the cooked ingredients in cold water before re-draining.

Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Chilli Soup (Blitzed Salad)


This soup is really like a blitzed-up version of one of the salads from our stall. When we make this as a salad, we swap the red lentils for puy lentils and whip up a chilli oil dressing to go with it. The chilli is really what makes this recipe by giving it a great little kick. As a soup, it has a rich and creamy texture (without any cream) and it keeps you full for ages. It’s a warming and nourishing soup for a cold autumn evening.


Serves 4

1 onion
1 celery stick
2 garlic cloves
1 long thin red chilli
600g/114lb sweet potatoes
1tbsp butter
olive oil
1tsp grated ginger
20g/¾ oz fresh coriander (cilantro), leaves only
300g/10½ oz red lentils
salt and pepper


  1. Chop the onion and celery roughly into 1cm/½ in pieces, then chop the garlic and chilli, discarding the seeds. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter and a splash of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, celery, garlic, chilli and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Cover with a lid.
  3. Add the diced sweet potatoes to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the coriander stalks and lentils.
  4. Increase the heat a little and briskly fry the lentils and vegetables for 2 minutes. You may need to add a little more oil.
  5. Pour in 1 litre/1¾ pints water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Add most of the coriander leaves (reserve a few for the garnish) to the lentil mixture, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender in two or three batches if necessary, and blend until smooth. Be careful as it will be hot. Serve in bowls, garnished with a couple of coriander leaves.

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

Meet the team

We use cookies to give you a better experience on By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it