January 20, 2012

some fresh, citrussy, crunch

Something funny happens to my tastebuds in January. I crave fresh, slightly citrussy, sharp yet sweet crunchiness! I think it is the overload of roasted meat and potatoes in December, and the need to shed a few pounds maybe, and to feel healthy and invigorated. So bizarrely, when it is still cold and often rather gloomy outside I want to eat salad! Not lightasafeather, just a whisp of cucumber thankyou salads: nope, I want hearty, tasty, superfresh ones, substantial enough to get me through the afternoon type of salads. I think they also charm me this time of year because of the marathon of cooking that the Christmas holidays involves, which I love at the time, but come January I love the no-cook, or hardly-cook nature of salads, and I am all about maximum taste for minimum flapping about with complicated ingredients and gadgets. Simple, quality ingredients are usually ruined by my kitchen foofstering at the best of times, so I am always of the lookout for no-fuss recipes.

My default choice is the rocket with roasted squash/sweetpotato with chili flakes, crumbled feta, and fresh coriander that I have raved about before on this blog, but I am ringing the changes at the moment with all sorts of delicious combinations and thought I might share a few here now and again incase you are having similar cravings for zing on your plate!

Earlier this week I ate this one for lunch.

Red endive leaves, ripe pears, walnuts and gorganzola with the herbage and dressing of your choice. I went for basil and balsamic vinegar dressing, but classic French dressing with grainy mustard and fresh mint would be good. I love the sharpness of the dressing and endive with the sweetness of the pears with the saltiness of the tangy cheese and the earthy crunch of the walnuts. Might work as a side salad with chicken? It is based on a recipe I saw in the Saturday Times. I am also partial to romaine leaves with pears, walnuts and feta with mint and French dressing. Nigella does a good take on these combinations using romaine leaves, peas, feta and mint which makes a fabulous side salad for fish or chicken. Oh Yum. If salads feel a bit chilly time of year, you can always team them up with a warm crusty roll or hot chicken/fish/meat after all. I wouldn't want to eat salad with every meal any time of year, but for healthy, flavourful zing to perk up the jaded palate of  January I find they are unbeatable.

How do you make your classic French dressing? Mine is a fairly slap-dash affair - roughly a third white wine or balsamic vinager, to two thirds mild olive oil, with a good hefty pinch of crushed seasalt, a generous twist or five of black pepper and a heaped teaspoon of grainy mustard. Sometimes a pinch of sugar. I cannot stand creamy sauces with salads, so I stick with this one, sometimes adding a little lemon juice (or lime if the salad has Thai/Chinese/Indian flavours) and leaving out the mustard.

Anyhoo, more of these to come, I'm off to finish off some jewellery orders before, oh joy, the weekend arrives! Have a lovely one. xxx


  1. Oh yum, now I'm going to miss my bus as I drool over this salad.

    Just how I make my vinaigrette, well I add the dijon on occasion, but otherwise yes, 3 to 1, olive oli to vinegar. Perfect.

    We live on salads here no matter the season. I will have to add yours to our lineup.

    xo j.

  2. Delicious! This is my kind of food although, more mundanely, I crave all manner of vegetable soups at this time of year.

    My way of making French dressing is pretty much the same as yours. My mother, who is French, has been making it this way for many decades. I sometimes crush a garlic clove with the rock salt before adding the olive oil and vinegar but that is usually to dress a hearty lentil salad with goats cheese and walnuts, for example.

    Happy eating.


  3. Ditto on the dressing, altho I'm a garlic-adder, too. Mitchell wants salad 365 dinners a year - boring. Mostly he wants lettuce, tomatoes and whatever else is around. I much prefer your fruit/cheese sweet and sour version.

    Maybe lunch tomorrow, with some good bread. I'm so there!

  4. That looks delicious. I had salad too but not as beautiful as yours, however it was accompanied by fish that I had baked with a herby, lemony, garlicky crust. Must try out something similar to yours. I also feel like citrusy things as I often feel quite thirsty at this time of year, maybe as I'm inside more and salads and lemons seem to help quench it!

  5. And now I need a salad for lunch ... off to raid the fridge!

    Gorgeous photograph :D