This time of year is a bit, well, vanilla, I suppose. It’s not really winter, but there can still be mornings when you find yourself scraping ice off car windows. It’s not spring either, though Mother Nature does tend to offer a few teasers of what’s around the corner – the beginnings of buds on trees and shrubs, and in my garden, the first little shoots of spring vegetables willing (foolishly, perhaps) to lay a bet on there being no more frost.
So it’s no wonder that I’m often at odds with myself on the subject of whether or not to eat salads. I love salads – making them, eating them, and being able to revel in the knowledge they’re bursting with nutrients. But even I know that leaves are not the thing to satisfy the average bear in chilly February. Many of us still have the urge to hibernate on occasion, so if we’re going to bother making a salad, it has to be something a bit more macho and robust.
So while I’ll admit that the word salad does seem to have a summery ring to it, I’ve done a little bit of work, researching options that reflect the time of year, what’s in season, and people’s desire for something more substantial than leaves dressed in a light vinaigrette, nice and all as that can be. These will be especially useful if you’re still sticking to the New Year health regime you set your mind to (in which case, congratulations!).
The broccoli recipe is the perfect winter salad – it is filling, tasty, nutritious and, with its creamy avocado dressing, just that little bit luxurious. The mint adds zing, and the chickpeas and toasted almonds add crunch and flavour. This is lovely on its own, but I’ve also had it with leftover shoulder of lamb and they complemented each other very nicely.
The other salad is a play on a classic – beetroot with citrus. Beetroot, if you like its warm earthiness, is a true superfood, packed with energy-giving vitamins and other nutrients. If you’re lucky enough to find them fresh in a good vegetable shop, don’t waste the greens – they’re nutritional and can be eaten just like spinach. Or you can make a good bruschetta – just wilt them, drizzle them with a top-notch olive oil, season well and pop them on some toasted sourdough that you’ve rubbed with raw garlic.
This salad is best on its own, and with the avocado it is surprisingly filling. Lovely for lunch or a light supper.
Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Gillian Fallon