This scrumptious rainbow salad recipe with a Chinese-inspired dressing, will literally have you eating the rainbow!
It features no less than twelve varieties of fruits and veggies, showcasing all their glorious textures and colours on one plate. This colourful, fresh salad strikes a perfect balance between sweet and savoury, crunchy and crisp and soft and creamy.
We will guide you through the process of slicing the fruits and vegetables to achieve interesting textures and we also demonstrate how to successfully layer the salad.
What's to love about this salad
- Flavourful dressing that can be used for other salads too.
- Healthy and nutritious, capturing all the colours to help you towards your 5-a-day.
- Simple to make, just chop, slice and throw it all together.
- Visually stunning, vibrant salad. Makes a great centrepiece for your table.
- Ideal as a side salad to a main meal, or a light meal on its own.
- This recipe makes a big salad, serving 10 people. However, it's easily scalable for larger or smaller crowds.
- It's versatile. Substitute or add other fruits and vegetables based on seasonal availability or your personal taste.
- Dairy free.
- Gluten free.
Key salad ingredients and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
The salad dressing ingredients
Soy sauce, oyster sauce, olive oil, hoisin sauce, honey, minced garlic, grated ginger, sesame seeds and a pinch of chilli flakes.
You can use either virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil.
To make the salad vegan friendly, swap the oyster sauce for either more soy sauce or hoisin sauce and replace the honey with maple syrup.
We really enjoy the strong and herby taste of rocket leaves, but you can easily swap them out for your favourite leafy greens if you prefer.
Adding red cabbage (also referred to as purple cabbage) to the salad brings another beautiful colour to the mix with its dark purple leaves.
While you can certainly use white cabbage as an alternative, it's worth considering that the goal here is to create a vibrant rainbow salad.
We include strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries.
However, feel free to experiment and incorporate other berries that you enjoy, like raspberries, red currants or even green or black grapes.
Sometimes it can be challenging to find good quality watermelon all year round, especially in northern Europe. If you happen to be in such a situation, don't worry! You can easily swap the watermelon with another type of melon, like honeydew.
Pomegranate seeds is a must-have garnish for this recipe. It's like scattering precious ruby gems over the salad!
If you're not confident about extracting the seeds from a whole pomegranate, don't worry! Many supermarkets now sell pomegranate seeds separately. Just check the fruit aisle and you'll likely find them there.
Celery sticks, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, avocado and sesame seeds for sprinkling.
We highly recommend including the avocado as it provides a nice balance to the crispy fruits and vegetables with its creamy texture. And let's not forget, the avocado brings healthy fats to the already long list of nutritious goodness in this salad.
How to make the salad
Do the prep:
- Combine all the ingredients for the salad dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
- Wash and dry all the fruit and veg. A mesh strainer works great for washing berries and other small ingredients.
- On a chopping board, shred the red cabbage into long, thin strips.
- Using a potato peeler, peel long strips lengthways from the cucumber and celery to create 'ribbons'. When you almost reached the centre of the cucumber and celery, turn it around and peel from the other side.
Try to exclude the seedy part of the cucumber because it tends to be a little sour and watery.
- Cut the watermelon into small triangles.
- Half the strawberries.
- Half the tomatoes.
- Slice the avocado into thin slices.
- Harvest the pomegranate seeds from the fruit.
Here's how to build the rainbow salad:
Start by scattering the rocket leaves over a large wooden board, large plate or a shallow, large bowl. This will be the base layer or foundation of the salad.
Next, loosely arrange the red cabbage into three piles.
Arrange the celery and cucumber ribbons in piles next to the red cabbage.
Start filling in the gaps with the watermelon triangles.
Add the tomatoes and the strawberries.
Now, add the dark fruits; blueberries and blackberries.
Place the cherries in prominent positions in the salad so they can be seen. Leave the stalks on for some interest.
Arrange the sliced avocado in various places, grouping 3-4 slices together and fanning them out.
Lastly, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and the sesame seeds.
Now, you have the choice of either drizzling the salad dressing over the salad or serving it alongside in a separate bowl. This allows each guest to decide whether they prefer to dress their own portion or enjoy it without dressing.
Optional - Scatter over some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Other notable additions to the salad
- Sliced peaches.
- Mozzarella cheese.
- Honeydew melon.
- Carrot ribbons.
- Flaked coconut.
- Poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Fresh herbs.
- Micro salad.
- Orange slices.
- Kiwi fruit.
- Apple. Don't slice and add the apple until the very last moment to ensure it won't start browning.
- Roasted sweet potatoes.
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Green beans.
- Dried fruit, like apricot or peaches.
- Small red onion rings, spring onions (green onion) shallots or crispy onion.
- Red/orange or yellow bell peppers.
- For a heartier salad you can add sliced chicken breast, whole grains like bulgur wheat or a plant-based protein like lentils.
The salad is at its best when enjoyed on the same day, while it's still fresh and crispy. If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for the next day. However, it's advisable to remove the avocado, as it may turn brown.
More recipes using fresh, healthy ingredients
For the salad dressing
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 0.5 teaspoon minced garlic
- 0.5 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- pinch of chilli flakes
For the salad
- 50 grams rocket
- 0.5 small red cabbage
- 2 celery sticks
- 0.5 cucumber
- 100 grams watermelon
- 100 grams strawberries
- 100 grams cherry or roma tomatoes
- 40 grams blueberries
- 40 grams blackberries
- 50 grams cherries
- 1 avocado
- 1 pomegranate
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Make the salad dressing
- In a small jug, whisk together all the ingredients for the salad dressing.
Salad - prepping
- Wash and dry all the fruits and vegetables to be used for the salad.
- Shred the cabbage into long, thin strips.
- Using a potato peeler, peel long strips lengthways from the cucumber and celery to create 'ribbons'. When you reach the middle of the cucumber or celery, turn them around and peel from the other side to continue making the ribbons.Try to exclude the seedy part of the cucumber because it tends to be a little sour and watery.
- Slice the watermelon into small triangles (about two bites worth per piece)
- Half the strawberries. Keep the green parts on for visual interest.
- Half the the cherry or roma tomatoes horizontally. If you're using big tomatoes, slice them into quarters and half each quarter.
- To prepare the avocado, start by halving it. Remove the seed and then use a spoon to gently separate the flesh from the skin of both halves. Place each half of the avocado upside down on a chopping board and slice thin, neat slices along its length.
- Break the pomegranate open. Bang the broken pieces on a chopping board to release the seeds. Scoop them up and set aside.
Build the salad (see photos in blog post)
- Start by scattering the rocket leaves over a large wooden board or large salad plate. This will be the base layer or foundation of the salad.
- Next, loosely arrange the red cabbage into three piles.
- Arrange the celery and cucumber ribbons in piles next to the red cabbage.
- Start filling in the gaps with the watermelon triangles, strawberries and tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the blueberries and blackberries over the salad, spreading them out evenly. This will create a lovely mix of colours, adding a contrast of black to the greens and reds.
- Place the cherries in prominent areas where they can be seen. Leave the stalks on, it adds interest.
- Arrange the sliced avocado in various places, grouping 3-4 slices together and fanning them out.
- For a final flourish, randomly scatter over the pomegranate seeds, followed by the sesame seeds.
- Now, you have the choice of either drizzling the salad dressing over the salad or serving it alongside in a separate bowl. This allows each guest to decide whether they prefer to dress their own portion or enjoy it without dressing.
- Optional - Scatter over some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.