Six salads

I love salad, but I usually eat it on my own as my husband really doesn’t! I generally make a mixture of whatever ingredients I have adding more or less as I fancy, adding nuts, seeds, maybe chopped fruit, maybe anything at all which happens to be in the fridge, including left over cooked vegetables.

It is nice, however, sometimes to actually plan a salad, and the national mark, Calendar of Cooking, published in the early 1930’s, offers some eighty year-old recipes for June salads:

Six salads

  1. celery leaf – well washed, dried and with a little made mustard added to the dressing
  2. lettuce and green peas – cook and cool the peas, dress them with French dressing or mayonnaise diluted with cream, before arranging with the lettuce
  3. tomato and celery – peel the tomatoes, de-seed, cut into strips, mix with thin slices of celery, sprinkle with finely chopped onion, add mustard to the dressing
  4. cheese – lettuce and tomato dresses, with grated cheese on top
  5. rice (cooked), diced ham and chopped tomatoes – mix in  any proportions you like as long as rice predominates, add finely chopped onion and add mustard to the dressing
  6. cauliflower – cold cooked florets (I would use raw) finely chopped onion and parsley, add mustard to dressing

Dress all of them with a French dressing, and it’s suggested that the rice salad and the cauliflower salad could be served as hors d’œvres.

The best salad I have ever ever ever eaten!

Our Dutch friends think we are very odd and rather funny (in the nicest fondest way) because we love to visit what to them is a perfectly ordinary supermarket – Jumbo! It’s not just that it has lots of interesting and delicious looking Dutch foods – everyday items and speciality, it’s just so interesting to see a completely normal supermarket in another country.

There is a big new store, Jumbo Foodmarkt Veghel,  opened in what had been an old factory complex – a milling operation I think. We went there last year, and this year we went again… We had had a busy morning being good tourists, and by the time we got to the shop it was lunch time! I’m not sure if the restaurant was part of Jumbo – I’m pretty sure it was, but it was in its own space, opposite a beer shop with literally hundreds, if not thousands of different sorts of beer, mostly from the Netherlands, but also from Belgium and other European countries. There was also a big speciality food market, which would have been really interesting to go round, but we were a little pressed for time.

We settled ourselves at a table, our order was taken, our friends wanted a tuna salad sandwich, my husband a burger, and I asked for salad – meat, fish or vegetarian, I was asked. I decided on the veggie option… The tuna salad sandwiches arrived – the most generous size I have ever seen, and the burger, which was like a mini home-made burger, very chunky but lunchtime sized with loads of chips – definitely not frozen but fresh-cut and cooked by the looks of it… and then my salad…

The photo really doesn’t do it justice… every mouthful was different and delicious.. it was so wonderful that I actually made a list of ingredients, as far as I could tell, so I could try to replicate it at home… The man who had taken our orders had also cooked and prepared the meals, and when he came over, I think he was a bit surprised (but also delighted!) by my enthusiasm! I showed him my list and I think I had found everything – except the balsamic vinegar!

here is what I think was in the salad:

  • mixed baby leaves dressed in the lightest of oil/balsamic dressing
  • lightly roasted nuts including almonds, walnuts, cashews
  • seeds including sesame and sunflower (maybe some pumpkin)
  • baby pickled onions and teeny-weeny-tiny pickled gherkins
  • pickled slices of carrot (still crunchy and in a very light pickle)
  • cucumber
  • baby tomatoes preserved in olive oil and herbs
  • tomatoes
  • soft goats’ cheese masked in a dressing of tomatoes, fig, red peppers and paprika (the peppers may have been preserved in olive oil too, or roasted, very soft, savoury dressing)
  • decorated with a creamy dressing, which I think was slightly herby, maybe garlicky
  • what I think may have been seaweed… but not completely sure on that, it did taste lovely though and was bright green!

I know it sounds ridiculous maybe to be so enamoured by a salad – a collection of things just put together (the man said he had just taken whatever he fancied out of the bowls of ingredients and made the salad specially for me) – but honestly, it was just yummy!

Variation on the goat’s cheese salad

I recently made a really delicious salad using left-overs… a small lettuce, goat’s cheese. a few other bits and pieces and seaweed from my seaweed collection…

In that random way that things happen, today I found I had a small lettuce and some goat’s cheese… I altered the recipe slightly:

Chilli seaweed goat’s cheese salad

  • small lettuce, for example baby gem
  • half a soft goat’s cheese round, cut into small pieces, skin removed (eat it on a cracker while you’re making the salad)
  • shavings of celery – including leaves
  • ransome leaves (wild garlic)
  • cashew nuts
  • laver seaweed
  • olive oil
  • pomegranate syrup
  • sea salt
  • lots of grinds of pepper (I put whole spices such as coriander seeds, fenugreek etc in the grinder with the pepper corns for a nice taste)
  • dash of chilli sauce but not too hot (I use Marie Sharp’s Green Habanero, it’s made with nopal – prickly pear cactus – green habanero, garlic and lime)
  1. cut/tear the lettuce and ransome leaves into bite-sizes and put into a large bowl
  2. add the celery, cheese, nuts, laver, salt and pepper and mix well so the seasoning runs throughout the leaves
  3. add the olive oil, syrup and chilli and gently turn over to coat everything

This salad may go a little limp if it’s not eaten straight away but it still tastes good, in fact the flavours meld in together! I even ate some the next day!

Rather a lovely lunch

I have been experimenting with seaweed… edible seaweed. I bought a small set of dried, flaked Welsh seaweeds, gutweed, dulse, wrack, laver and kelp. Some of them need to be in cooked dishes, but I have been trying others with cold recipes.

Here is a rather lovely salad lunch I made using the very excellent Welsh laver:

Goats’ cheese and laver salad

  • little gem lettuce
  • watercress
  • goats cheese (I used soft cheese, the sort which comes in a log – I took the skin off, but it is edible so up to you!) cut into small cubes
  • olive oil
  • pomegranate syrup
  • sea salt
  • a few roast peanuts (or any other nuts, or seeds, or none)
  • a couple of teaspoons of dried flaked laver (I was using just one baby gem, if you were making more for more people you would obviously need to use more laver!)
  1. cut or tear the lettuce and watercress into bite-sized pieces and put into a generous bowl
  2. add the cheese and fork through gently
  3. add the laver
  4. pour on as much olive oil and syrup as you yourself like (I like it quite oily compared to some people)
  5. gently stir it all together, you don’t want to break up the cheese too much
  6. season to taste
  7. sprinkle as many nuts/seeds as you like
  8. you can eat it straight away, but the flavour of the laver comes out if you leave it for a little while

Salad

The word ‘salad is about six hundred years old, and if you’re someone who learnt Latin at school, you might already know or realise that it comes from Latin, ‘sal’ meaning salt, and via various different transformations to meaning something which was salted, and probably vegetables which were dressed or maybe preserved like this.

My husband hates salad, so whenever he has salad garnish he moans about it, but I inherit it, so I don’t moan!

P1030790 (2)

Lettuce, pointy cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, Greek basil, sorrel, parsley, mixed seeds, roasted cashew nuts, roast peppers and tomatoes, sweet peppers, Greek olive oil

BEETROOT AND LIME (2)

BEETROOT AND LIME (3)

Salad... last year's garden was delicious!

pickled mustard greens, avocado, tomato, read and yellow peppers, red onion, celery, cucumber, mixed nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, carrot, olive oil

Lincoln salad

I remember salad from my childhood as lettuce leaves, slices or quarters of tomato, whole spring onions, slices of cucumber, sometimes salad cress or watercress, cooked beetroot in malt vinegar, radishes topped and tailed, hard-boiled eggs sliced, potato salad made with salad cream… It would be served with cold meat, and it would be the same with the vegetables fresh from the garden, and at school with the green stuff in big trays, and everything else in individual bowls…

The way I prepare salads now is very different, combining different vegetables, and adding things like nuts, chopped fruit, and with a dressing of olive oil and some sort of vinegar – but not malt! However, if I look back at the National Mark Calendar of Cooking recipe book,, published in the 1930’s, I find a very different sort of salad:

Lincoln salad

  • 1 lettuce
  • watercress
  • 1 cooked beetroot
  • 1 tablespoon of canned peas (I guess you will use fresh or frozen!)
  • 2 tbsp cooked rice
  • 1 tbsp chopped gherkin
  • 4 tbsps cooked, chopped, lean beef
  • 2-3 tbsp home-made mayonnaise or French dressing (2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar, salt and pepper)
  1. tear the lettuce and cress into small pieces
  2. cut a few thins slices of beetroot for decoration and dice the rest
  3. put all the ingredients into a basin and mix with the dressing
  4. put the green salad in the bottom of a bowl and pile the mix on top
  5. garnish with beetroot

Mad on salads!

P1020584

I just really like salads – and like experimenting to find strange combinations of fruit and vegetables which work together. You can’t see, but lurking here are some lovely new broad beans, just cooked for a few minutes in salted water; they are absolutely my favourite bean. There are mixed leaves, sliced onion, a few baby tomatoes, raspberries (my new discovery as a salad ingredient) some finely sliced cabbage, and my new favourite dressing of yoghurt and mustard – and because it is diet day today, no olive oil! I used American mustard – I’m experimenting with different sorts and so far they are all nice in the dressing, and seem to suit different salads. The courgettes on top (zucchini) are just very thinly sliced long ways with a few very finely sliced rings of a huge spring onion pushed in between, and dressed with white balsamic vinegar, a little pomegranate syrup, pepper and sea salt.

That was my diet day lunch… now what’s for dinner?!