Salads. I am a lover of salads, and a huge believer that we can all be friends with salad. Absolutely everybody. However, I do not believe in a boring salad. You know, those lettuce-tomato-cucumber-cheese type salads that in my opinion are not only boring but quite nutritionally void. If I was making boring salads for myself day in, day out - I would be sick of "eating healthy", too!
A salad in my books is a thrown together masterpiece that contains numerous elements: texture, flavour, colour, freshness and some cooked element. Oh and usually plenty of nutritionally diverse ingredients. Every Monday night we have baked salmon in our household, and every Monday night I create a new salad recipe by simply using the fresh produce we've picked up from the markets, plus the staples in the pantry or fridge.
Here is my salad mathematical formula: Cooked veg + fresh herbs/veg + grain/legume (sometimes both) + epic dressing. A non negotiable is colour. Oh, and flavour. Always well seasoned and bursting with the right balance of flavour. If you use this formula, it will be difficult to create a salad that's not incredibly tasty and perhaps interesting to the palate.
Last weekend I set out to make a salad creation and document it (i.e. write down ingredients and take decent photos in daylight) so that I could share it with more of you. You see, most of the time I throw together ingredients and I think it's bloody brilliant but it's night time and the light for any type of decent photo is very poor.
So here's my first salad for you. There are so many elements that can be swapped, e.g. you could swap the quinoa (grain) for another grain such as brown, black or wild rice, or you could use cooked buckwheat or millet. You could change the veggies to suit your likes/dislikes/intolerances. If you don't like parsley, swap it to coriander, or spinach. So easy!
This recipe contains roasted lemon, which is one of my favourites! Don't be afraid to eat the skin when it has been roasted - it gives a bittersweet flavour and adds so much zest to the dish (although I would ensure your lemons are organic when eating the skin). Serve this salad with a protein of your choice - either chicken or salmon would go really well.
Spiced Fennel & Cauliflower Salad w Lemon Tahini Dressing
Serves: 4 as a side
Time: 40 mins
1 fennel bulb
2 carrots, washed
1/2 head cauliflower (I used purple for this salad)
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 whole lemon
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh rocket
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground ginger, ground coriander, cinnamon
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt and pepper
Set your oven to 200C, fan forced.
Start by rinsing your 1/2 cup quinoa thoroughly. Add the quinoa to a pot with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil on the stove top and then turn down to simmer.
Chop your fennel, carrot and cauliflower and add them to a large baking tray. Cut your lemon in half, and then chop one half into thin slices. Add lemon slices to your veggies and drizzle with about 1/3 cup olive oil (look to be honest I don't know the exact amount I used... but it is a fair whack! I am not scared of too much EVOO!).
Make your spice mix by mixing together the ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger and sesame seeds, along with a pinch of both salt and pepper. Once mixed thoroughly, sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables, ensuring they are coated quite evenly. Put the vegetables in the oven to begin baking for 30 minutes.
Prepare your fresh elements of the salad by roughly chopping your flat leaf parsley and adding it to a large salad bowl. Add in the fresh rocket.
When the quinoa is ready, take it off the stove top and leave it for around 5 minutes to cool down. Once slightly cooled, add it to the salad bowl along with the parsley and rocket. Mix so that the fresh herbs wilt slightly.
Begin working on your dressing by adding the juice of 1/2 lemon, tahini, honey, salt and pepper to a bowl. Whisk with a fork until combined and add in small amounts of water until the dressing reaches a consistency of your liking.
Once the vegetables are cooked (you'll know when the fennel is no longer crunchy), take them out of the oven and add them to your salad. Using tongs, gently toss together the roasted veggies, fresh greens and quinoa.
Serve the salad alongside a protein of your choice (fish or chicken go really well here). Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Enjoy!