Some salad thoughts...
Started conversation Jun 24, 2002
I'm no expert, I usually follow others' recipes or sometimes just make up something with things I like. But the secret of a good salad, for me, is to have plenty of ingredients with a variety of flavours, textures and colours. A nice dressing really does enhance the salad. Olive oil is wonderful stuff, and there are lots of nice nut oils. Of course you can buy low-calorie dressings now quite easily. A touch of lime juice helps, and you can mash in one or two anchovy fillets as well. And I also like these little tubs of salad seasoning you can buy in supermarkets.
I like to make the dressing the day before I'm using it. Celeriac, a rather unattractive vegetable, is really nice when peeled and grated. Some ingredients, like tomatoes, taste better at room temperature. Items like beetroot leaves can be used also. This is really embarrassing, but I sometimes like to use flowers in a salad. I think most of the well-known herbs produce edible flowers, and many other plants do as well. Basil produces sprays of small white flowers. Nasturtium flowers are larger, brightly coloured, and have a hot, peppery flavour. Fresh herbs are great, I love lots of basil in a salad. I also like to use preserves (pickles, chutneys etc). Kidney beans, chickpeas etc are tasty, nutritious and filling as well. They're cheap to buy and readily available in cans. You can also use fresh sprouting beans, alfalfa etc. (Is that the right word?)
As for preparation, I like to use a salad spinner which doesn't let the water drain away. I fill it with tepid water to which I've added a drop of 'fruit & vegetable wash'. It's a bio-degradable product, designed and marketed specifically for washing residues off fruits and vegetables. It's very much like washing-up liquid, and will give you a soapy salad if you're not careful. You could indeed use a bio-degradable washing-up liquid. Regular detergents, however, are made from petrochemicals derived from crude oil. Not good for flavour or digestion! After spinning the ingredients in this I rinse them under cold, running water and give a little rub if necessary, before using the spinner to dry them. And of course, you can buy pre-washed ingredients as well. Well, these are my salad thoughts for the moment.