The title refers to one of my favourite episodes of the Simpsons wherein Lisa begs Homer to have a vegetarian BBQ and the family starts a song reminding her that ‘you don’t win friends with salad’ yet come summer and BBQ season, a good salad is always appreciated.
So what makes a good salad? To me it is the variety of textures and flavours. I love salads. It is my go to food any time of the year. In winter it is a warm salad with grilled vegetables or baked pumpkin, summer lends itself to crisp lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes and refreshing cucumber.
To flesh out a salad protein such as chickpeas, quinoa or meat is always a good start or a decent serve of carbohydrate such as potato, pumpkin or rice.
Fresh is always best so try to pick the crispest lettuce, nice ripe tomatoes, crunchy celery, green herbs and a variety of colours in your ingredients.
If in doubt, keep it simple. It is easy to throw the whole contents of the crisper in a bowl but there is an elegance in three or four quality ingredients combined and dressed to impress.
My Top Five Salads:
1. Asian Coleslaw – Crunchy, Tangy and add some fresh chilli for a spicy kick. What’s not to love?
2. Greek Salad – The taste of the Mediterranean in a bowl. Creamy fetta marries perfectly with tangy tomatoes and cool cucumbers for a summer treat
3. Baked potato salad – For a twist in the classic, bake your small cubes of potatoes first and dress when warm with a combination mustard and mayo dressing
4. Chickpea and kale – Pack a protein punch with a combination of chickpeas, finely diced red onion, shredded kale and pumpkin seeds for crunch. Top with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing and you’re good to go
5. Broccoli and spinach – Finely chop your raw broccoli, toss with baby spinach leaves and dress it up with flaked almond and dried cranberries. Great for a sunday bbq
I had a hankering for a seafood salad so I am going to share a grilled calamari and prawn salad. The ingredients are pretty simple and the method quick thus making for an easy mid-week dinner. I love to use fresh herbs in salads to create a bit of punch and flavour but you can always chop them up in a dressing if you don’t like leafy herbs in your dishes.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 squid tubes
250 g prawn meat
1 cup shredded wombok cabbage
1/4 large cucumber cut into thin strips
1/2 large capsicum diced into small cubes
1/2 cup of Thai basil and coriander
1/2 cup spinach
1 small can chickpeas
150 g butternut pumpkin sliced
2 tbsp Thai seasoning mix from gourmet garden tube
Juice one medium lemon
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 teasp fish sauce
Juice one lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp thai seasoning mix
– cut squid tubes in half and cross score. Place in bowl with prawns and marinate with Thai seasoning mix, lemon juice and olive oil for half an hour (I use the tube mix as easy, fresh and no fuss)
– heat grill or fry pan to medium heat, cook sliced pumpkin until soft, set aside
– heat grill or pan to high, sear squid until opaque and almost cooked through, add prawns and cook both until opaque and cooked through
– remove from heat and cut tubes into 5cm strips
– mix salad ingredients together, add squid and prawns
– pour over dressing as desired and enjoy!