burnt toast

Category: Salad

Potato Salad

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I don’t know how you like your potato salads, but this is how we have ours. You should try it.

 

Potato Salad

Serves 4 as a side

 

1 kg waxy potatoes

salt

100ml hot vegetable stock

6 Tbsp mayonnaise

6 Tbsp sunflower oil

5 Tbsp white balsamic

1 ½ tsp vegetable stock powder

1 tsp curry powder

1tsp maple syrup, or failing that, raw sugar

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch chives, snipped

15 cornichons, finely sliced

parsley, to garnish (if you can be bothered)

I do this the lazy way because I can’t be bothered to peel hot potatoes or wait till they’re cool – so instead, I peel and slice them thinly before boiling them. So smart and efficient, I know. So once they’re all sliced, they go into a big pot with some water. Bring to the boil and add a bit of salt, about as much as you’d add to a pot of pasta – it’s got to taste salty. Let the potato slices boil until just soft – check every few minutes by nipping some off with a spoon and tasting it: firm but cooked is what we’re going for. When they’re ready  a few will have decided to break apart already, which is fine. Drain them and put them in a big bowl. Add the veggie stock and let it sit until cooled down a bit. Hot potatoes tend to be thirsty, so we want to minimise the possibility of them soaking up too much dressing. You can give it a stir here and there, but don’t go too crazy because otherwise you’ll end up with mash.

In the meantime, mix the mayo, oil, balsamic, stock powder, maple syrup, onion and chives in a separate bowl. Pour over the potatoes, add the cornichons and gently stir. The dressing will become quite liquid because of the residual heat of the potatoes, but do not fear! It will all thicken again once it’s reached room temperature. Cover it and transfer to the fridge for at least half an hour. Give it a quick taste – you might need to add some more salt – then throw some parsley on top and dig in.

Salad

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Let’s talk about salad. Nah just kidding, let’s talk about salad dressing. I do love me a good salad here and there, with crumbled bits of toasted stuff and juicy bursts of caramelised and vine-ripened vegetable shards literally jumping onto the fork with vitamin-spurred enthusiasm. Those salads are fantastic. But really, a salad is nothing without it’s dressing.  Sometimes, when I’m less in the mood for a frilly salad, I’ll go for something  simpler, dressed in a creamy outfit, something that’ll accompany my meal of carb on carb and turn it into something that resembles a balanced food pyramid if you squint. For once no chia seed and watermelon oil dressing kittens, but a dressing your grandma would make if she were Swiss, lived on top of a mountain and yodelled her chickens awake in the wee hours of the morning. It’s a dressing that would make most picky grandchildren lick their plates clean.

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Oma’s Salad Dressing

4 Tbsp mayonnaise (all my Australian friends – the good stuff ok? None of that sweet gunk)

4 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp white balsamic (replace with white wine vinegar, but add a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavours)

3 Tbsp milk

1 shallot, finely chopped

  • ½ tsp vegetable stock powder

½ tsp mild curry powder (more would make it too exotic for Oma, and we can’t have that)

a few grinds of black pepper

Whisk the ingredients together, adding the liquids slowly to the mayo so it becomes smooth. Done!

This will keep in the fridge for three or so days, but depending on the amount of salad you’re making, you might need all of it.

 

If you want a few ideas of how to use it, here are two:

One of the most frequently eaten salads here in Switzerland would be the “Nüsslersalat”, or lambs lettuce. It has a delicate, tear-shaped leaf and is known for its nutty flavour. If you can’t find it, replace with anything else that’s green that you’re in the mood for. All we do is finely dice a few hard-boiled eggs and toss them with the lettuce and the dressing. Serve immediately, because the greens don’t like to stand around for too long.

If you’re wanting to jazz up your carrot salad, thinly slice a head of fennel with half a kilo of carrots, throw some of the springy green fronds in, a few chopped parsley leaves if you have some, and mix with the dressing.

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Quinoa Tabbouli with Feta, Almonds and Dates

tabbouli

“Another salad with feta eh? That’s so imaginative of you”. Ja, that’s me! If you knew how rarely I actually sat down and ate a proper salad, you’d be throwing feta at me by the bucketful ok? If I’m going to have a salad that’s worth my while, it’s got to be substantial, and if it’s that, it’ll probably need a few yum-factors in there to make me actually want to finish it. Who eats a whole bowl of quinoa on its own anyway. Nobody that calls themselves my friend, that’s for sure.

All that aside, this salad is well and truly a pretty damn tasty one, even if you omit the feta (don’t). Tabbouli has always been in my life in some way or another, in the form of a packet mix, as a component of my salad bar lunch, or that one time we had an unforgettable meal at this incredibly authentic and charming restaurant in the heart of a million little windy streets in Cairo.

In my hope to make it  more of a main meal type thing, sturdy enough to be packed away as a work lunch, and happy enough to sit in the fridge for a few days without getting grumpy at me or losing its flavour, I created this little thing. I’ve gone out and jazzed up the grain component with our trusty quinoa, added some cinnamon to the mix and roasted the cherry tomatoes to increase its fridge life. Throw in some almonds for crunch, some dates for added sweetness, and some feta for that hit of salty tang, and you are in for one sexy date with your lunchbox.

Tabbouli with Feta, Almonds and Dates

Serves 4

 

1 cup / 170g quinoa

2 cups / 500ml vegetable stock

1 tsp cinnamon

400g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 big bunches parsley, finely chopped

1 bunch mint, finely chopped

4 spring onions, finely chopped

2 lemons, juice

1/4 cup / 60ml olive oil

salt

100g Danish feta, crumbled

8 dates, finely chopped

1/2 cup / 60g slivered almonds, toasted

 

First, combine the quinoa, stock and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook it on a small flame, covered, until it’s done. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and lay out the halved cherry tomatoes on it. Sprinkle them with a little salt and let them relax in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start going wrinkly and have reduced in size. Remove and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the chopped parsley, mint, spring onion and quinoa. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and as much salt as you think is necessary.

When you’re ready to serve, scoop out a nice amount onto a plate and top with some of the cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta, the chopped dates, and a sprinkling of the toasted almonds.

 

The salad will keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days. To ensure complete satisfaction every time you eat it, keep all the components separate in the fridge.

The most pretentious salad ever

superfood saladSometime this year we all decided to give up and open our arms to the crazy superfood which is known as kale, and chose to love it unconditionally for now and forever. Not only because it’s high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium, no, it also makes us feel like we’re getting closer to nature with all that green grassy fibre it has to offer.

I am not the first to talk about this vegetable, nor will I be the last, so I’ll try and keep it short and sweet, because what you really want is the recipe, and not me talking about my kale-ian preferences. So. Kale chips, great stuff. However, there are only so many kale chips you can make. And they’re really hard to dip into anything, which is a wee bit frustrating, because I love dips and thusly, everything should be dippable. Once my enthusiasm for crisping it dwindled, I moved on to kale salad. I only have one piece of advice for you for crucial kale salad improvement, and that is: Massage it, baby. That way the fibres break down and the grassy rawness turns into soft feathery goodness.

I came up with this recipe as more of a joke than anything else. I set myself the challenge of creating a salad with as many superfood ingredients as I could fit into one bowl, a bowl of pretentiousness, but also as it figured out, of incredible tastiness. I like it best on weekends, as a replenishing recovery after a slightly too merry a night, and also as a packed lunch. Small tip here when we’re talking about portable lunches: Do you also hate the fact that all the crispy ingredients in your lunch turn soft by the time it’s ready to be eaten? And do you keep doing it because you can’t be bothered lugging 3 different containers with you to your place of work? I have a solution for you my friend. Get your take-away container and fill it with your food of choice, making sure you leave at least 1 cm of space between the food and the top of the container. Next, grab a sheet of cling wrap and place it over the top. Now heap on your toasted nuts or croutons and click on the lid. No softened crunchy bits, ever again. You’re welcome.

 

Superfood Salad

Serves 1 really hungry person or 2 average hungry people

 

1/4 cup quinoa

1 pinch cinnamon

1/2 cup water

 

1/4 – 1/2 bunch kale (depending on the size of your bunch of course, but I’d say more is better than less)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

2 Tbsp goji berries

2 tsp chia seeds

 

Combine the quinoa, cinnamon and water in a saucepan and cook till done. I usually add a bit of veggie stock powder to flavour things at this point, but I’ll leave that decision up to you. Once it’s done, set it aside and let it cool down a bit.

Finely chop your kale, then transfer it to a bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil and start scrunching it with your hands until you can feel it soften. This will only take a minute or so. Add the cooled quinoa, the balsamic and soy sauce and toss. Once the dressing is evenly distributed, you can throw in the avocado. You can either pop it back into the fridge now and keep it for later, or heap it onto a plate and top it with the slivered almonds, goji berries and chia seeds. Yum.

Smoky Lentil Salad

smoky lentil salad

So remember when I said I’d found the recipe for the most amazing lentil salad, daring, even, to name it “the best”? I lied. I found its incredibly attractive and rather enticing cousin. I’ve never been competitive – because I think it’s a waste of time – and I also believe in equality, especially when it comes to lentil salad. I love these two recipes of mine equally, but because this one is newer, I feel like I have the right to play with it a little more often than the old one, so we get the chance to familiarise ourselves with one another, solidifying and deepening our friendship. Because ladies and sirs, this is one seductive salad. Packed with a delicious medley of roasted zucchini, feta and smoky paprika, this little number is sure to satisfy. Best packed lunch ever. Amen.

 

 Smoky Lentil Salad with Feta and Roasted Zucchini

Serves 2 incredibly hungry people, 3 medium hungry ones, or 4 as part of a meal.

 

1 cup Puy lentils

1 bay leaf

2 firm skinny zucchinis, on the medium side, sliced into 1cm rounds

2 carrots, finely diced

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

 

Dressing

5 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp dark balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ Dijon mustard

2 tsp vegetable stock granules

1 garlic clove, crushed

chilli flakes

 

150g Danish feta, crumbled

 

Throw your lentils in a saucepan and cover with 2 cups of water. Stick in the bay leaf while you’re at it. Let the lentils soak for an hour or so, then bring to the boil and simmer gently until cooked. You may or may not have to top up with water in the meantime, just make sure they never go dry.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and line two baking trays with paper. Spread the zucchini over them, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle over some sea salt. Bake in the oven until soft and about 2/3 of their original size. Remove from the oven and cool.

In a large fry pan, heat a few splashes of olive oil and add the carrots and onion. Stir over a low flame until soft, then add the paprika. How good does it smell?! Alright, remove that from the heat and have a look at how you’re lentils are going.

Once they’re soft, pour them into a fine-meshed sieve to get rid of any excess water, shake them a bit, and then transfer them to the large fry pan of delicious smoky goodness. Add the dressing ingredients and give it all a good stir. Let the lentils sit for about 15 minutes for all the flavours to unfold. After that, all you have to do is add the zucchini and feta. Have a taste now. Taste incredible? I know.

The Lentil of Salad

the best lentil salad

Lentil salad, chicken. You heard me. Lentils. Hippie heaven on a plate. No, I am being serious. This is the stuff. Rip out that prejudice you have sticking up on the wall of your brain of how unenjoyable lentil salad is. Because baby, it isn’t.  I went to a whole lot of trouble to make it into something beautiful and delicious, just to put a smile on your face. I know, I’m such a good person.

I want you to know why I love this salad, and why you should to. First of all, there is no celery in it. Celery is such a spoilsport. Secondly, no raw vegetables. They make salads like this one taste more healthy than delicious. And I would choose tasty over healthy any day. The sesame oil, the feta and the fresh coriander leaves are what make this lovely rock in my opinion. And even though I’m not usually a big fan, a confettied scatter of the ever so popular beetroot makes this salad enter a dimension of its own. Funny, Australians are the largest consumers of beetroot. I never would have guessed. It’s not like we’re big on beet salad or anything. Health Conscious? God no. You know what it is? Burgers. Burgers with a slice of pickled beetroot. At least we get a point for aesthetics. So yes. Sweet, salty and sour deliciousness.

And while you’re at it, you should go buy this cookbook called The Modern Vegetarian: Food Adventures for the Contemporary Palate by Maria Elia. It’s the initial source of inspiration for this recipe. Also, this is a vegetarian cookbook where literally every single recipe makes you want to get cooking immediately. Get it.

The Best Lentil Salad

Serves 2 really hungry people, 3 medium hungry people or 4 as part of a meal. Your pick.

1 cup brown lentils

2 Tsp olive oil

2 carrots, finely diced

1 onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp sesame oil

3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp vegetable stock powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (4-5 beets) canned baby beetroot, finely diced

1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

100g Danish feta or goat’s cheese, crumbled

You may have your own way of cooking brown lentils, so do it your way if you want – this here is how I do it: Pour the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with about 5 cm of water. Let them sit for about half an hour until they have soaked up some of the water, then put over a low flame. You may have to top up with more water along the way, but see how it goes. Simmer lentils till soft but not squishy. We need them to hold their shape. Drain them and keep to one side.

Now while the lentils are cooking, add the chopped carrots, onion and olive oil to a frypan and cook, covered, until soft. Turn off the heat. Add the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, stock powder, garlic and pepper. I do this in the same pan to save on dirty dishes. Now add the lentils and give it a good stir. Cover, and let them absorb all those delicious flavours, for about 15 minutes. Once the salad has cooled down, you can add the beetroot, coriander and feta.

Yum.

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