Chop chop: Increase your daily vegetable intake with Dak Dak

Kick off a healthy new year with this tasty Middle Eastern chopped veg salad

Dak Dak salad

Dak Dak salad

 

I’ve been reading so much about new year’s cooking and eating. There’s so much advice out there and I’m all for it. I love kitchen hacks, tips and tricks. Anything that makes my life easier, my food tastier and my family healthier.

Cooking from scratch is always number one for me. Of course shortcuts and some ready-made items are fine, but you really can’t beat making a tomato pasta sauce from beginning to end, ensuring there isn’t a crazy amount of sugar and then salt to balance it all out. There’s great confidence in knowing exactly what went into something and great confidence in knowing that you can cook pretty much anything once you have the right ingredients at hand. It seems to be about preparing ahead and stocking up on the basics, so you can make anything.

One tip I did read was to cook failsafe regulars that you’re used to cooking. The lasagna you learned to make in school, the bolognese recipe you got from your mother and so on. But I feel it’s a bit limiting. Where do we learn the fun stuff? How do we get to add something new to our repertoire?

Last week I made pot stickers with a recipe from my fellow Irish Food Writers’ Guild member Cliodhna Prendergast. I made them on a busy Sunday morning with scraps of leftover chicken and vegetables, my kids helped to roll the dough, it was all hands on deck. They worked a treat and my kids loved them. I’ll be adding them to my list of go-to dishes.

It’s important to cook different things regularly for the entire family to introduce new foods and cultures. Dinner has, on countless occasions, sparked conversations with my kids about where they would like to travel.

We also need to eat seasonally. As much as I love eating raw food, I find it hard to do in the colder winter months. One of my favourite things to do is to serve a Middle Eastern chopped salad, sometimes called Dak Dak (it means finely chopped) with something cooked. It tastes fantastic with most things: a grilled lamb chop, steak, baked fish, or add a tin of cooked chickpeas or black beans to make it even more substantial. I love spooning it into warm pitta breads with hummus and falafel. It’s a sure way for the entire family to up their vegetable consumption.

Add whatever you have in the fridge; this salad is fantastically versatile. It’s a great way to improve your knife skills, with so much chopping involved. I usually make this salad straight after I’ve done the weekly shop. It will sit in your fridge for at least four days. Add a little more fresh herbs and taste for seasoning before serving. It’s best served at room temperature to let the flavours really shine.

DAK DAK SALAD

Ingredients
Serves 6
Half a red pepper
Half a yellow pepper
3 carrots
Half a cucumber
150g radishes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Arils (seeds) of half a pomegranate
4 sprigs of mint, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp good olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt

Method
Finely chop the peppers into little 1cm squares. Place in a wide bowl. Peel and chop the carrots in the same size. Halve the cucumber and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1cm dice and cut the radish the same way. Place everything into the bowl along with the spring onions, pomegranate arils, mint, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and mix gently. This is best served at room temperature. Add a little more fresh mint before serving and check the seasoning if it’s been stored in the fridge.

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