February 9, 2009
For my valentines blog - instead of a chocolate tip I thought I’d give a salad tip this year to keep things on a healthy but delicious note. I have some simple rules to follow and you’ll always have a crowd pleaser… I promise !
Every great salad is composed of 4 simple elements - crunchy, salty, sweet & creamy. If you think about it… all the best and most famous salads have these. Caesar, Greek, Waldorf.
Now for crunchy – it can be anything that gives your salad some texture.
(eg. Croutons, nuts, crispy noodles, bacon)
For salty it can be anything that has a bit of that brackish flavour
(eg. feta, olives, peanuts, cashews, Roquefort, sea salt, soy sauce)
Sweet is exactly that something that gives you a layer of sugary flavour. (eg. apples, pears, cranberries, raisins, red pepper, feta, mango, figs, basil, carrot, coriander, candied nuts, oranges)
Creamy is essential to give the salad some depth and sustenance.
(eg. avocado, goats cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, yogurt, mozzarella)
Some of the categories have foods that overlap – which is the beauty of the list. As long as you have all 4 elements you will have an amazingly delicious salad.
Here is my favourite salad -
Candied walnut, Pear and Gorgonzola salad
115g/4oz granulated sugar
120ml/4fl oz orange juice
115g/4oz walnut halves
2.5g/½ tsp salt
2.5g/½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 radicchio, split into separate leaves
55g/2oz wild rocket
2 heads chicory, split into separate leaves
2 conference pears
1. Place the sugar and the orange juice in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and keep boiling until the syrup has reached a golden brown colour. Take off the heat and stir in the walnuts, salt and cayenne. Place the walnuts onto a non-stick baking sheet using two warm wet spoons to prevent sticking. Allow to cool completely.
2. In a small bowl whisk together the walnut oil, olive oil, mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large bowl toss together the rocket, radicchio and chicory with most of the dressing, reserving 2 tbsp.
4. Cut the pears into quarters, core, cut into thin slices and toss with the remaining dressing. 5. Arrange the salad leaves on a large serving dish, scatter over the pears and walnuts and crumble over the gorgonzola. Serve immediately