I’ve had a busy week of workshops and have decided to run with the theme of making the absolute most out of beautiful, natural ingredients by showing just how satisfying and ‘epic’ a salad can be. We humans crave the “new”. I’ve been thinking of late it’s because we used to be nomads and there was always a new plant to explore, or animal to catch… Food marketers of course give us ‘new’ stuff all the time, but their playing on our desire to be continually excited by food, leads us down a processed food path full of tricks and promises, and we sure don’t want to go there!
So, back to our epic salad where everything can be ‘new’ by playing with different flavours and textures. All you need to do is grab a couple of ideas from each texture to get the layering of flavours and textures happening. This is also going to help you pair loads of nutrients together.
Add crunch – We crave the crunch, am I right?
- Buckwheat kernels or “buckinis” are a great crouton replacement
- Baked nuts / seeds
- Fennel. Instead of shaving it, cut cubes of it. So, so crunchy!
- Raw asparagus. Super crispy and crunchy
- Kale or beet leaf chips on top
Add a sweet ‘kick’
- Lower sugar dried fruits like inca berries or currants are gorgeous sprinkled through
- The ‘breakfast crunch’ from my book is so good in savoury salads and veg as well as on yoghurt – It has a little syrup and cinnamon through it
- Sweet leftover veg – sweet potato, roasted beets…
- Grated apple
- Fresh mint
- Grated beets
- A teaspoon of honey / maple / rice malt syrup in the dressing for a hint of sweetness
- Mixed leaves
- Shaved fennel or beets (with a mandolin)
- spring onion
- large chillies with soft heat
- spices in the dressing such as pepper, a hint of cumin or turmeric
Add fresh herbs
- Mint, Basil, Coriander, Parsley, native herbs to where you live… We vastly underutilise these leaves AND THEIR STALKS. There’s no excuse to leave herbs rotting away in the fridge any more. Get them into a salad in abundance – Half in the salad, half in the dressing. Done!
Add pantry / fridge randoms
- Kelp noodles. Amazing for a good hit of iodine. Just watch you don’t grab from Asian origin countries as after the Fukushima disaster I don’t think sea veggies from Japan are a safe choice.
- Leftover cooked quinoa.
- Leftover steamed veggies. Lightly steamed broccoli is delicious cold through a salad the next day.
- Things you’ve got lurking that need using.
Add something ‘meaty’
- Either pop your meat into the salad or go for some vegetarian options.
- A few strips of salty grilled haloumi, if you eat dairy.
- Gruyère which is a great raw milk aged cheese available most places for a treat.
- Roast veg – The thick, soft chewy texture does well as the ‘meaty’ component of an epic salad.
- Tinned mackerel or sardines (I tend to recommend against pacific seas tuna for mercury and fukushima contamination. Plus the mackerel and sardines are far more sustainable and as luck would have it, much richer in omega 3s)
- Tempeh. It’s not my favourite, but if it’s yours, knock yourself out!
Add something tangy
- Pomegranate arils are amazing for little acidic punches of flavour in a salad
- Incaberries also excellent for tang
- Chunks of orange, grapefruit or if in season and available, blood limes or finger limes
- Little cherry tomatoes
This week I did this salad twice. I hope you enjoy this combo and don’t be afraid to replace certain bits in it with things you have at hand for easy food prep.
First, I roasted 2 chooks. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, skip this bit. The salad’s amazing without the chook too. Why two? Well, I needed them for the larger of the two workshops. But roasting two organic chooks is always a good idea if you’re going to have a few busy days, as it means there will be more for subsequent meals at the ready. Some can go into a tomatoey sauce to serve over zucchini noodles or gluten free pasta. Some in a soup with stock made from the bones. Some in a nourishing bowl of random ingredients thrown together – A very common quick lunch solution for me these days. If you have kids, it’s a no brainer to have leftovers for school lunches!
Quick and delicious roast chicken (double for your 2 chickens)
Quick and Delicious Roast Chicken Recipe
- 1 organic chicken (believe it or not you can go from buying ‘bits’ of free range chicken to organic chicken overnight and SAVE money. Whole chicken is much more economical, and you then have the carcasse for stocks, as well as the peace of mind knowing you’re avoiding GMO grains in the chicken feed, which is possible and probable in Australia of non organic chicken / pork)
- 1 heaped tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp celtic or himalayan salt
- zest of one lemon
- 4-6 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- a few parsley stalks to go into the chook carcass
- Preheat oven on 200C / 400F
- Rub the salt, paprika, lemon zest and olive oil over the chicken, front and back
- Bake upside down (thighs up) for 25mins and then turn over and bake another 40 mins the right way up. If you’re doing 2 chickens on the tray, bake first side 30mins and second side 45mins. It takes a little bit longer with two in the oven.
- Let that cool once it’s done or have a warm roast dinner and use leftover chicken meat for the salad the next day!
Epic Salad Recipe
- 2 bunches asparagus Cut in little discs all the way down and keep 2 bottom inches for soups down the track in the freezer. Too fibrous for eating raw.
- 1/2 large purple onion, cut finely
- 2 shoots spring onion, chopped fine all the way down
- 1 cup raw fennel, rough chopped OR shaved with a mandolin
- 1 bunch mint, rough chopped, without stalks – keep those for putting into herbal tea!
- 1/2 bunch parsley, rough chopped all the way down, stalks and all
- 1/2 bunch coriander, rough chopped all the way down stalks and all
- 1/4 cup dried currants (optional)
- 1/2 cup ‘breakfast crunch’ from my book (or 1/2 cup toasted nuts and seeds)
- 2 large chilis, , fine chopped with only half the seeds (or all seeds if whole party loves a bit of heat)
- 4 handfuls assorted mixed leaves that you have at hand
- 3 cups chopped chicken and a good couple of tablespoons of the pan juices with it
- 1/2 bunch parsley, stalks and all chopped down into inch chunks
- 1/2 bunch coriander, stalks and all, chopped down into inch chunks
- 1/2 large red chili, no seeds
- Juice of 2-3 lemons ( (depending on juiciness. do 2 initially then add the 3rd if not citrusy enough once mixed)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 avocado
- 2 pinches salt
FOR THE SALAD
- Put all of these ingredients into a nice big bowl.
FOR THE DRESSING
- Blitz in a good blender, thermomix (sp 6, 8 seconds) or mini food processor like the kenwood tri blade until creamy and thick.
- Now, pour it over the salad and mix through with your hands preferably, so everything gets really well coated with the dressing.
- Eat your salad. Yum. xx