With alfresco lunches on the horizon the title of ‘hostess with the mostest’ is something that needs to be earned … and that cos lettuce salad? Darling, that will never do!
With the festive season upon us, the polite question to ask in response to a lunch invitation is ‘Shall I bring a salad?’ If you’ve ever left said lunches with your platter (and some remaining salad in tow) it’s time you re-looked your standard romaine lettuce and tomato ‘whip-me-up’. Our top three recommendations? Only the best, of course.
Tabbouleh with pomegranate & Za’atar dressing
400 g medium-grain bulgur wheat
1 bunch of spring onions
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large handful of mixed micro herb and salad leaves
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon za’atar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 1 hour or longer, if possible.
Drain in a fine colander and transfer to a serving bowl.
Trim and slice the spring onions, then add to the bowl with the oil and lemon juice. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.
Pick and finely chop the thyme leaves, then combine with the seeds and juice from the pomegranate and the remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl with some sea salt.
Mix the micro leaves with the bulgur wheat, then toss through the dressing and serve.
Super food Salad
700 g sweet potatoes
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 pinch of ground coriander
1 small pinch of ground cinnamon
200 g quinoa
320 g broccoli
35 g mixed nuts , such as walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts
extra virgin olive oil
1 splash of balsamic vinegar
40 g mixed sprouts
1 punnet of salad cress , (use a mixture of varieties, if possible)
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 fresh red chili
1 ripe avocado
20 g feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Scrub and chop the sweet potatoes into 2.5cm chunks. Place into a roasting tray with the chili flakes, ground coriander and cinnamon, a drizzle of olive oil and a little sea salt and black pepper, then toss well.
Spread out into an even layer and place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
Slice the broccoli into small florets, then halve and finely slice the stalk. Place into a heatproof colander and rest it over the quinoa pan. Cover and steam for 3 minutes, or until just tender.
Once cooked, drain and rinse the quinoa under cold running water, then leave to cool along with the broccoli. Remove the sweet potato from the oven and leave it to cool, too.
Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush lightly.
Halve the pomegranate and squeeze half the juice into a large bowl. Add 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil, the lime juice and balsamic vinegar. Whisk well and season to taste.
Add the cooled broccoli and sprouts to the dressing, then snip in the cress. Roughly chop the coriander (stalks and all), finely slice the chili and add to the bowl along with the quinoa and sweet potato.
Toss well, spread out on a serving platter, then scoop out and dot over the avocado flesh.
Bash the reserved pomegranate half with a wooden spoon so the seeds come tumbling out and scatter these over the platter along with the nuts, snip the cress on top, then serve with the feta crumbled over the top.
Candied beet salad
750 g golden or candy cane beetroot , or a mix of both
50 g mixed seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 knobs of unsalted butter
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
150 g golden caster sugar
2 handfuls of salad leaves
75 ml buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of mixed soft herbs , such as chervil, tarragon and mint, leaves picked and chopped
Give your beetroots a good clean, then place them in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, until they are soft. Drain and set aside to cool. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and cut roughly into 3cm wedges.
While the beetroots are cooking, toss the seeds in a little olive oil with the paprika and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then toast them in a dry frying pan until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking the buttermilk in a jug with the juice of half the lemon and a good glug of olive oil. Season well. Stir in the chopped herbs and leave to one side.
Melt the butter in the frying pan you toasted the seeds in, and finely grate in the zest of the orange. Add a squeeze of orange juice, the cinnamon and sugar and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and leave to bubble away for around 10 minutes until caramelized and sticky. Remove from the heat and toss through the cooked beets. Leave them to cool slightly in the pan, then spread out onto a platter.
Serve, after tossing the salad leaves with the buttermilk dressing, scattering over the beets and finishing with the toasted seeds.