It’s a sad fact that as we women enter middle age, we are forced to get excited about salad.
That odd packet of chocolate cookies or bottle of wine that never hurt our love handles in the past, now position themselves defensively around our brittle bones to protect them from collapsing. Theoretically.
My sister is obviously aware of this risk to my health and so thoughtfully sent me this book – ‘A Salad For All Seasons’ – for my birthday. She obviously didn’t realise that buying a middle-aged woman a book on salads is almost as offensive as a book on dieting.
(Where happened to the fucking wine and chocolate, beeatch?)
But luckily for her, although I do have a special place reserved in my muffin top for comfort food, I’ve always been turned on by a healthy salad, which can be so much more visually entertaining than the soggy mass of winter vegetables I was bought up on in the UK.
We women all have our favourite salads that we can rustle together at a moment’s notice to impress other women when called upon to ‘present a salad’ at dinner. And we also know that your common garden, mixed salad simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
So today, I thought I’d share a few recipes from my new book (thank you Harry Eastwood), along with a couple of my own personal favourite salad recipes.
Harry calls this first one her Balsamic and Caraway Roasted Beetroot with Goat’s Cheese and Hazelnut Salad. I’ve become a bit of a beetroot fiend since I came to Australia and frankly, any salad with cheese as one of the main components has me at ‘cheese.’ This is a fairly common salad here and a classic that I can never resist.
Then there’s her Fennel and Mint with Halloumi and Harissa Salad. NC introduced me to Halloumi recently – prior to that I’d dismissed it as a sad vegetarian meat substitute – and now I dream about it. Mint and basil are my two absolute favourite herbs and I feel super Bourgeois-like when I eat fennel, so this salad sounds and looks divine. Frankly, pomegranate seeds in any salad give it a touch of class that says ‘you can’t touch me in the kitchen.’
Finally, if you’ve chosen to ignore the lie that ‘red meat is bad for you from the health freaks’ like I have, try Harry’s Spinach, Lamb and Fig with Orange and Honey Dressing Salad. Rare lamb is an instant orgasm on a plate that has me frothing at the mouth, spinach makes this salad look healthy and the figs give it that added exoticism and class. The old man wouldn’t touch this salad as he can’t stand mixing sweet and savoury or rare meat, so I’ll definitely be knocking this up next week.
For two of my personal and easy, to-die-for salad recipes, try mixing Rocket, grated Parmesan, avocado and toasted pine nuts with a French dressing, or Jamie Oliver‘s Greek Salad, where he chucks in huge segments of cucumber, massive chunks of tomatoes (I’d never even heard of), whole olives and a wedge of Feta in his typical haphazard fashion, then mixes it with a combo of mint, dill, red wine vinegar and olive oil. ‘Comfort salad’ at its finest.
Salads don’t have to be boring – they can be sexy too. And let’s face it, we need all the help we can get in that department.