How to Make a Perfect Salad 0

February 20, 2018

 

Summer was made for salads. Or is it that salads were made for summer? Our summer has been incredibly hot, tropical and steamy; far too hot for cooking. I seem to be able to bear the heat for cake making (like this one, summer fruit skillet cake) but not for regular cooking. Priorities? šŸ˜‰

 

So, what’s the secret of a good salad? In my opinion it’s all about balance. Here are the flavours and textures you want to include, with examples:

 

Neutral base: Greens or rice or pasta or beans

Sweet ‘n’ juicy: Cherry tomatoes, apple, pear, roasted carrot, roasted eggplant

Protein: Chicken, bacon, feta, mozzarella

Salty: Shards of parmesan, tiny slices of preserved lemon

Sour & Pickled: Capers, pickled ginger, quick-pickled radish

Herb: Mint, oregano, dill, parsley

Texture: toasted pine nuts, croutons, toasted rice, crushed peanuts

 

You could add some of these aspects by throwing on a sauce or dressing, but I think the best salads have these components as direct ingredients. Plus, nothing worse than a soggy, overdressed salad.

Finally, make sure to season your salad. If it needs it- taste first! – add a bit of olive oil and vinegar.

 

So, with that “formula” in mind, here is my current favourite summer salad –

 

 

Beetroot, Feta,Ā Caper-berriesĀ & Fennel Flower Salad

 

Base: Cooked beetroot cut into quarters

Sweet ‘n’ juicy: apple cucumber, peeled andĀ cut into chunks

Protein: soft feta, broken into chunks

Salty: a couple of pieces of preserved lemon, sliced

Sour & Pickled: caper-berries, stalks removed and cut in half

Herb: Mint leaves, torn + a few soft fennel fronds

Texture: Fresh fennel flower topsĀ (tear the tops off small, soft ones)

Season: salt + pepper

 

My fennel is giving me more flowers than I know what to do with and I love the little pops of aniseed flavour they give to this salad. You’ll need to use the small, soft, baby flower heads as the more mature flowers can be too overpowering. If you don’t have fennel flowers in your garden you could try toasted cumin seeds or sesame seeds, toasted pinenuts or croutons. Apple cucumber can be substituted with regular cucumber. Preserved lemon can be left out if you don’t have it but if you do – please use it! Preserved lemon – salty, jammy and tangy – is my new addiction.

 

What is your “formula” for a perfect salad? What is your current favourite salad?

H x

 

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