When I was growing up, about half an hour before dinner every night whoever was in the kitchen would help Mum whip up ‘the salad’. We had ‘the salad’ each and every night. Irrespective of what the main meal was, ‘the salad’ went with everything.
And I know our family wasn’t alone. My Mum was, and still is, a PHENOMENAL cook, however the salad we had each night was made up of exactly the same ingredients, and to be fair, was pretty darn boring. Whoever was helping in the kitchen each night would open the fridge and then open the salad crisper compartment and pull out cucumber, carrot, tomato, iceberg lettuce and red onion. They would slice and dice them and occasionally some Feta would get chucked on top before it hit the table, that kind of thing happens when you’re Greek (or even half Greek like me!) It was always dressed in olive oil and white wine vinegar.
Since then, salads have moved on, and whilst I definitely still enjoy ‘the salad’, now commonly known as a ‘garden salad’, it’s not my favourite or even 10th favourite salad when it comes to the variety that exist today! “Salad” has come leaps and bounds and I often make a Salad for dinner several nights a week, even when I am entertaining the crowds! Salads aren’t always low in fat and calories, or “healthy” so to speak, but I think if you go by the “everything in moderation” philosophy, then you don’t need to skip any food group at all!
Below I’ve given you wonderful people Seven, yes SEVEN, recipes for my favourite salads to make at this time of year. Each salad serves 4 people as a main.
1 – Broccoli, Bacon, Cashews and Currants Blanche 4 cups broccoli (should still retain crunch and bright green colour) Set aside and allow to cool. Cut 250 grams bacon into 1cm pieces and fry until crispy, set aside and allow to cool. Place 1 cup roasted cashews and 1 cup currants into a large mixing bowl, add cooled broccoli and bacon and combine all ingredients. Dress with 1/4 cup olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2 – Corn, Carrot, Red Capsicum and Avocado Place 2 cups of canned corn into a bowl. Then, using a julienne slicer, (like a potato peeler, but cuts things in to thin strips) slice 4 large carrots into long thin strips, then cut strips in half with a knife so they are still thin but now only about 4cm in length. Add to corn. Dice 2 large red capsicums so that you have pieces that are 1/2 cm square. Add to corn/carrot bowl. Dice 2 avocados into small cubes (about 1/2 cm in size). Cover avocado cubes in the juice from 1 lemon. Add avocado to main bowl and mix ingredients together. Dress salad with Mayonaise dressing which is made by whisking together 1/4 cup whole egg mayonaise, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar.
3 – Fennel, Cabbage, Apple and Spring onions Using a Mandolin realllllllly thinly slice 2 bulbs of fennel, half a head of green cabbage, and 2 apples. You might then want to chop the thin pieces of fennel and apple in half. Toss the fennel, cabbage and apple in the juice of two lemons as soon as they are cut. Finely chop half a bunch of spring onions and add to fennel bowl. Mix everything together. Dress with 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
4 – Greek Salad with Risoni Finely dice 1 bunch spring onions, 3 cucumbers, 1 red capsicum, 1 green capsicum, 1 red onion, 1 punnet of grape tomatoes and place in a bowl. Add one cup of kalamata olives and mix. Set aside. Cook 1 and a half cups of raw risoni pasta. Once cooked, drain water and add 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 2 lemons, 3 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and mix well. Set aside. Place 200g feta onto a dinner plate. Sprinkle feta with 2 teaspoons of dried oregano and then pour over 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Roughly chop feta into small pieces. Gently add the risoni and the feta to the salad and mix well.
6 – Asian-inspired ‘slaw My local grocer sells a “coleslaw mix” which makes this salad REALLY easy for me to prepare! If you can get your hands on a pre-prepared mix, I suggest you do, but if you can’t…… Very, very finely slice 1/2 head of green cabbage and 1/2 head of red cabbage. Mix together in a bowl. Finely chop 1/2 bunch spring onions. Add to cabbage. Julienne (cut very, very thin strips) 4 carrots. Add to cabbage/onions and mix everything together. Dress with asian ‘slaw dressing (1/4 cup of vegetable oil whisked together with a teaspoon of sesame oil, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, juice of 1/2 lime and 1 teaspoon pepper). Garnish with 1/2 cup of roughly chopped roasted peanuts.
7 – Chickpea, Quinoa, Goats Cheese, Almonds (SEE PICTURE GALLERY) Drain 2 tins of chickpeas and place in a bowl. Finely dice 1 red onion and add to bowl. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to rest of mix. Finely chop the parsley, add that in too. Dice 1 red capsicum and add that to other ingredients. Mix everything together. Roast 1 cup of slivered almonds, allow to cool then add to bowl. Cook 180 grams quinoa, allow to cool then add to bowl, again mixing everything together gently. Crumble 180 grams of goats cheese throughout and on top of the salad. Add extra almonds on top as a garnish. Dress the salad with lemon juice and olive oil to suit your tastes. I like a 50/50 combination. Season with salt and pepper.
After graduating from high school, Phoodie studied Interior Architecture at UNSW. She worked for several years as a designer before having the courage to throw caution to the wind and run, very, very fast to the Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London. She is a cookbook, restaurant, and all round food obsessed blogger and Mum of 2. She can be found posting recipes here, tweeting here, or on Facebook here.
Did you also grow up on “the salad”? Would you eat just a salad for dinner? What’s your favourite salad?