Friday, 20 August 2010
In an attempt to hold onto the last days of summer, I decided that this week I'd try out lots of exciting salad ideas to brighten up my lunchtime. I've never been a fan of salad; I'd rather a sandwich or soup any day of the week, but I do think that a good salad can be one of the most exciting dishes to try out. There are so many possibilities!
I remember the most epic salad I ever made. My Mum bought me loads of exciting things to add to my salads - beetroot, pine nuts, egg, celery, seeds, cheese - you name it, and I added it all to one salad. Needless to say, it was overwhelming and not so enjoyable; there's an art to salad, and I reckon that less is more where the exciting added bits are concerned!
So, the experiment: three lunches, three different salads. No recipes, simply combinations of things that I imagine would go well together. Normal, bagged lettuce and chopped celery as the basis to each dish. And it also had to fuel a long afternoon of writing, so it had to be filling and full of energy (I also had a seedy pitta bread every day, though, gotta have my bread!).
Day 1: Cheddar, Apple and Sultana
This one involved chunks of Braeburn apple and cheddar cheese tossed with sultanas and toasted pumpkin seeds (heat in a dry pan with salt and pepper until the seeds swell - yum) and dressed with 1tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Then, I drooled a big teaspoon of runny honey over the top.
This was yummy; it has a really woody, rustic flavour from the pumpkin seeds, which the sweetness of apple, sultana and honey complimented beautifully! The strength of the cheese added a real punch, too; you can't beat a good stinky cheddar!
Day 2: Carrot, Orange and Sunflower Seed
I grated the carrot, then added tinned mandarin segments, raisins and sunflower seeds. I dressed it with some orange juice and balsamic vinegar, and a large crunch of black pepper.
I really really wish I'd used fresh orange, but I didn't have any. The tinned mandarins didn't have much flavour, and the whole thing was a little too bland. Next time I'll maybe add some cumin and chilli flakes, real orange and a little bit of good olive oil.
Day 3: Strawberry, Kiwi and Mint
This was as simple as it sounds - add chopped strawberries, sliced kiwi and mint leaves to the salad and season with black pepper.
This was so delicate, light and refreshing. Next time I'll splash out and buy some feta and watercress.
The verdict: I was very surprised to find that the strawberry, kiwi and mint salad was my favourite of the three, even without any cheese! It was the most simple, the only one without a dressing, and the most summery of the three, and I may well have it again tomorrow as a birthday treat! Highly highly recommended! (as is the apple and cheddar salad!)