This is a celebratory post in honour of the humble salad. Where I grew up, salads were certainly not what they are today. I have memories of bare leaves, mostly iceberg, thick dressings (think Rhode island or blue cheese) and the content of a can of sweet corn and button mushrooms, perhaps a few bits of cucumber too. Or the classic potato salad with more mayo than potato, with added bacon bits from a package. Sweden, where I grew up, was not known for its vegetable culture, that’s for sure.
These days, however, the salad is fast becoming a main event. Traditional pubs are now offering ‘super salads’ on their menu, which really are packed with super greens, seeds and nuts. And salad is a loose term. Leaves are no longer mandatory, instead all kinds of vegetables suffice – green beans, lentils, watercress, rocket, radish, chickpeas, lambs lettuce, beetroot, kale nuts, seeds and so on can be called a ‘salad’. For those tolerating dairy, feta, halloumi, goats cheese and mozzarella can be fab additions too. And what a lovely concept it is, to play with flavours, dressings, leaves, pulses and seeds until you find combinations that are uniquely your own. No rules!
At a recent BBQ, the meat was a side and instead salads, all varieties, took centre stage at the table. It was a beautiful, varied spread. What are your favorite? I’d love to hear it. Currently, mine is a Japanese green bean salad with sesame dressing (see top). I could eat this every day at every meal. It goes with fish and meats but works beautifully on its own too.
Japanese Bean Salad with Sesame Dressing
Large packet of fine green beans, washed and topped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar/stevia/agave (depending on the sweetness you require)
Steam the green beans until just tender – you don’t want to overdo it. Put aside and cool slightly. In the meantime add sesame seeds to a small dry frying pan and toast until golden. Grind most of the toasted sesame seeds (not all) with a pestle until almost crushed and the aroma released. Mix tamari/soy with the sugar and add the sesame mixture and pour over the green beans. It may look like the dressing will not go far but keep turning the beans with a pair of tongs and eventually the beans will be beautifully coated in the dark, sweet soy mixture. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top of the bean salad and serve immediately. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Wednesday! X