Sunday, 6 January 2013

Winter salads

The month of January is when gyms make their yearly profits; that's when most people join up. But if everybody that joined went regularly, the gyms would be bursting at the seams, unable to fit everyone in. January is when we have an internal spring clean: we promise ourselves that this year, things are going to change, we will get fitter and eat better. Statistically it's unlikely you'll keep going to the gym but you can at least boost your fruit and veg intake by eating salad. Salad in winter? Brrr. But actually it really hits the spot. The lack of sunlight, more time spent indoors, and low-level Seasonal Affective Disorder leads your body to crave the vitamins present in fresh raw food.
Use winter salad 'leaves': endive/chicory both red and white, and cabbage. Grate roots and bulbs in there too: fennel, celeriac, radishes and carrots. They last for ages in the fridge bottom drawer and, even when made up and dressed, do not get 'burnt' as the French call a soggy salad, for you can eat them the next day.
Add citrus, nuts, fruit, pickles, onions, sprouted grains, parmesan, grilled halloumi or feta to spruce up the salad.  Here are some ideas:
Cabbage, rocket, orange and sherry sultana salad:

I made this first for a Scandinavian supper club, it's a kind of slaw.

Half a white cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons
2 oranges, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds
100g of sultanas, soaked a few hours beforehand in sherry or a dessert wine, rendering them plump with alcohol, then drained. (Actually I just tossed the remaining sherry into the salad)
Half a bag of rocket

The juice of whatever leftover citrus you have in your fruit bowl: I used 1 lemon and 1 grapefruit.
50ml Good pumpkin seed oil.
1 tablespoon of Maldon salt, some in the dressing leaving some to sprinkle on top last minute.

Mix all the ingredients together.
Fennel, blood orange, mint and pomegranate salad:

The aniseedy flavour of fennel and the sturdiness of the root make for a refreshing winter salad. You can also make the classic fennel, orange and black olive salad tossed with your favourite vinaigrette.

2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced lengthways (use a mandolin if you have one)
2 blood oranges, thinly sliced
a handful of fresh mint leaves
Seeds of half a pomegranate, sprinkled over the top

30ml of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt

Layer the fennel on the bottom of the plate, then the circles of blood oranges, then the mint and pomegranates. Add the dressing immediately and let the fennel soak up the dressing before serving.

Fennel, preserved lemon, watercress and celeriac salad:

2 fennel bulbs, sliced into thin ribbons
1 small celeriac, peeled and sliced into thin ribbons (you need a food processor for this ideally)
Half a bag of watercress salad
2 preserved salted lemons, cut into small pieces
A handful of hazelnuts

30-50ml of hazelnut oil
Juice of 1 lemon or 2, to taste
1 tablespoon of Maldon salt.

Mix everything together.

Endive/chicory salad:
By this I mean the bullet shaped buds of leaves rather than the curly bitter lettuce. Unfortunately it's a 'faux amis' in terms of language: the French call our chicory 'endive' and our endives 'chicorée'.
The British don't use endives much (partly because it's quite expensive to buy) but it's a staple on the French table during winter, either as a salad or baked in a white sauce, each endive wrapped with ham. This year The Secret Garden Club is going to have a go at growing some forced endives, Belgian stylee. Endives/chicory can come blanched (for they are grown underground without light) or in red. When buying white endives, note that the paler the leaves, the less bitter the taste.
Health note: we all need to eat more bitter tasting foods. Bitter is best.
A classic French winter salad recipe is Walnut, Roquefort and endive salad:

4 heads of white or red endive, split in half
60g of roquefort cheese or other blue cheese, diced
50g of walnuts
2 pears, sliced thinly lengthways (optional)

Dressing: you can either go creamy (creme fraiche, more roquefort, garlic and olive oil) or use your normal dressing.
I like to experiment with different oils so I think a walnut oil would be lovely with this.
30ml walnut oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt with some leftover to sprinkle over the salad last minute.

3 carrot salad:

I mixed black or purple carrots, orange carrots and mooli/daikon for colour, crispness and taste.

4 orange carrots, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler or food processor
1 daikon, sliced into ribbons
4 purple carrots, sliced into ribbons
A handful of alfalfa sprouts
30g of sunflower seeds

30-50ml of sunflower oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 large tablespoons of whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt
Whip this up until it forms a mayonnaise style dressing.

Mix ingredients together, adding the alfalfa sprouts on top.

Come on, what are you waiting for?


  1. Some great colours and visual appeal in those salads! I'm going to be pedantic and correct you on something though: Maldon sea-salt, not Malden. :) I guess this would be important if you lived in Maldon.
    I'm a great fan of both Endive and Radicchio, both of which I grow every year. Endive, walnut, Roquefort - what a fab combination.

  2. Yummy -thanks! I was looking for some new inspiration out here in Spain! xxx

  3. Thanks Mark, I'll correct that. I'm very sluggish after the holidays.
    Curious Cat: Spain? Go mad on citrus lucky you x

  4. Fabby salads, I used to make an orange & fennel one from the Greens cook book years ago, you've inspired me to get creative again - Yum

  5. Lovely collection of salads - am a big fan of salad all year round, just needing to change the ingredients to match the weather.

  6. Thank you - some really great ideas, has inspired me, especially as I got a food processor for Christmas!

  7. Thanks Ali, enjoy!
    Bron: me too, I'm often too lazy to make them but I totally love salads.
    Sarah: fantastic. It makes everything so easy.


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