Looking for ways to make salad more interesting? This crunchy salad topper with spiced sunflower seeds will jazz things up no end, adding flavour, texture and even nutrition too.
Mixed nuts and seeds are salad heroes when you're trying to eat healthier but don't really love the foods that come with it. But it's hard to resist a bowl of leaves when a crunchy salad topper is sprinkled over the top, giving you a flavour explosion without the usual culprits of sugar and fat.
This crunchy salad topper will work hard for you all year round improving salads and making it easier to eat healthily, leaving you space to balance it out with all the other foods you enjoy. Because balance is key, people! Here at Rosanna ETC we eat everything we want and don't deny ourselves anything whilst acknowledging how important nutrition is for our bodies to work the right way. Finding ways to enjoy healthier food that still excites the taste buds is the best way to consistently eat a balanced diet in my opinion. It's all about consistency over perfection every time.
Nuts and seeds come complete with a healthy dose of protein and vitamins and the added bonus of tasting really good! Herbs and spices can completely transform a dish and take it from zero to hero. Here's what we have in our crunchy salad topper that will make a depressing plate of lonely lettuce taste exciting and fun...
There are no wet ingredients in this crunchy salad topper, it's all dried herbs, nuts, seeds and spices. And no oil either! We dry fry to lightly toast the ingredients and get maximum flavour with no added fat.
- Sunflower seeds - a healthy hero
Sunflower seeds truly are one of nature's best gifts. An amazing source of protein and healthy fats, they are abundant in minerals including Iron and Zinc and will give you a dose of vitamins E, B1 and B6.
- Cashew nuts...or are they?
Cashews are low in sugar, rich in fibre and actually a seed, not a nut! Eating cashews gives you a similar amount of protein as the equivalent quantity of meat so they make a brilliant plant-based meat substitute. They are also an excellent source of a range of nutrients including magnesium, copper and selenium.
- Sesame seeds
A tiny, oil-rich seed that's rich in fibre and taste.
- Nigella seeds
Often known as black onion seeds, the nigella seed is not from an onion. They are one of the oldest spices known to be used in cooking and were found in Tutankhamun's tomb! If you can't find them, try using poppy seeds instead.
- Dried chilli flakes
A quick and easy way to add spice to a dish, chilli flakes also come with a menu of health benefits and will keep your digestive system working well, boost immunity and reduce inflammation. I
Hot paprika is made from spicy red chilli peppers and comes with all its health benefits. If you don't have any paprika, cayenne pepper will do the job.
- Dried oregano
This amazing herb adds so much flavour to dishes and I love using it.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Using dried garlic and onion powders rather than fresh in this crunchy salad topper means it will keep for much longer, and you only need a small amount to get a lot of flavour.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Measure out your seeds and spices and chop the cashew nuts into small pieces, of a similar size to the sunflower seeds.
Heat a large, shallow frying pan with no oil.
Begin by dry frying the cashew nuts for two or three minutes, then add the sunflower seeds for a further two minutes.
After the sunflower seeds and cashews are beginning to slightly brown, add the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and dried chilli flakes to the pan.
After a minute, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan for a further 30 seconds until everything is fragrant, then remove from the heat.
Allow the crunchy salad topper to cool before serving.
Hint: Don't add the powdered spices too early or they will burn, and that's not the flavour we're going for.
Try this crunchy salad topper with spiced sunflower seeds and cashews tastes delicious sprinkled over pretty much anything - I like it with plain leafy greens to add texture and flavour.
There's quite a lot going on in this crunchy salad topper, so pairing a wine to match is tricky as we don't want to overpower the actual salad! It will also depend on your salad dressing of choice. To make a vinaigrette dressing more wine-friendly, tone down the tartness (ie don't add so much vinegar). When in doubt and eating salad, I grab a Sauvignon Blanc due to its high acidity. A cool-climate Pinot Noir also works well with balsamic dressings and nuts.
Substitutions and variations
Here are a few ways you can change up this recipe...
- Spice - adjust the spice levels in this crunchy salad topper to suit you
- Veg - this doesnt have to just be a salad topper, try it sprinkled over steamed veg too like broccoli or kale!
- Nuts - You could add flaked almonds to this recipe too, or even brazil nuts.
- Seeds - pumpkin seeds would taste great in this too, not just the spiced sunflower seeds!
- Deluxe - As an alternative, this crunchy salad topper would taste rather amazing spread over puff pastry, rolled up and baked to make a super crunchy appetizer.
Love a spice mix? Try this Chermoula spice as a marinade for lamb, fish, chicken, and vegetables.
Use a large and shallow frying pan to toast your spices, nuts and seeds and allow them to heat evenly. A high-sided pan can allow moisture to get in and around things and partially steam them, and you'll sacrifice crunch.
Store your crunchy salad topper with spiced sunflower seeds and cashews in Tupperware and sprinkle it over food when ready.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
Grab a handful of this crunchy salad topper as a snack when feeling peckish and you want something savoury and quick!
Crunchy Salad Topper With Spiced Sunflower Seeds And Cashews
- 1 large, shallow frying pan
- 4 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 4 tablespoon cashews
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Measure out your seeds and spices and chop the cashew nuts into small pieces, of a similar size to the sunflower seeds.
- Heat a large shallow frying pan with no oil.
- Begin by dry frying the cashew nuts for two or three minutes, then add the sunflower seeds for a further two minutes.
- After both the sunflower seeds and the cashews are beginning to slightly brown, add the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and dried chilli flakes to the pan.
- After a minute, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan for a further 30 seconds until everything is fragrant, then remove from the heat.
- Allow the crunchy salad topper seed and nut mix to cool before serving.
Be mindful of the allergens in this recipe and do not eat it if you have a sensitivity to nuts or sesame products.
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