Tag Archives: Salad

Logical Progression

Duck Salad

Salad as Leftovers

Having eaten fairly rich meals all week, today I was craving something a bit lighter.  I also had a little rocket, parsley and the cut and come again lettuce I planted earlier, so today’s post is both leftover loveliness, and my entry for the salad challenge.

Lately, I have been reading about using miso as a marinade for meats. Obviously, it was a little late to marinate my duck, but I was convinced that it would make a good dressing for a salad. I had the duck, and leaves, and decided that using bulgur wheat would add the bulk, and a lovely nuttiness and some bite to the dish. I would have liked to add some thinly sliced spring onion, but as they are out of season, I satisfied myself with the leaves and the dressing.

The resulting dish was substantial enough to satisfy, but light enough that we weren’t eating more rich food, which really hit the spot for me. Even though we had eaten the duck all week, I had made it different enough not to bore, and it was sad to actually come to the end of this versatile ingredient.

I do have one more dish to post on the topic, but I am travelling in the UK, and managed to leave the pictures on the hard drive at home. As it will be a step by step guide, I think the pictures will be necessary, but I hope that you have enjoyed Duck Week, in any case.

Recipe: Duck Salad

Ingredients:

100 g bulgur wheat

Hot vegetable or chicken Stock – to cover the bulgur by 2-3 cm

60 ml miso paste (I used the darker variety)

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

4 tbsp sesame oil

2 cm piece of ginger, grated

Little water to thin

Remaining meat from a roast duck carcase

Small bunch parsley, leaves removed from the stalks.

100 g rocket

100 g cut and come again lettuce, or a mixed bag of salad

5cm chunk of cucumber, cut into matchsticks

Method

Pour the hot stock over the bulgur wheat, cover, and set aside for the bulgur to absorb the stock. I like it al dente, so I make sure that I test it after about 15 minutes. If the grains are as you like them before all of the liquid is absorbed, then drain them, and leave aside.

Meanwhile,  mix the miso, soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger together to make a dressing. Taste, and adjust the soy or thin with a little water, as required.

When the bulgur is done to your liking, add the miso dressing, and set aside for 5 minutes to let the bulgur absorb the flavours of the dressing.

Mix in the duck, parsley, cucumber and salad leaves, and serve immediately.

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Finding Food in My Own Backyard

Hairy Bittercress

Salad as Penance

I was a bit preoccupied with the market last week, and spent my time testing recipes and searching for good potatoes to bake. Funnily, the Dutch seem to prefer thin-skinned potatoes, which mash well for stamppot, but don’t really understand that a good jacket potato needs a thicker skin. I was surprised at the amount of stall holders that tried to convince me that their thin-skinned potatoes would be perfect for my needs.

Anyway, this leads to a confession. I completely neglected to eat or blog about salads for the salad challenge. Salad as penance seems like a fitting start to lent. To make up for last week, I  am using up the leaves that survived the snow all this week in my food.

After the first Salad Days, I spent a little while following the links at Veg Plotting, and have found a lot of really useful information, and a lot of inspiration. This year, I have been asked to help a few friends to create balcony gardens, as not many people here have gardens, but almost everyone has a balcony of some sort. I have a lot of ideas for vertical gardens, and windbreaks of dwarf beans and soon. Until now, I had been overlooking the salads. Some of these posts have reminded me that salad is a great start for first time gardeners, with quick results setting them up to feel good about their ability rather quickly. Really not sure why I haven’t thought of it sooner.

I also found a lot of inspiration for my own salads by following the #saladchat hashtag on twitter, and the links on Veg Plot’s newsletter, The Salad Bowl .

Jane Perrone mentioned some winter weeds from her garden that she was eating. I already knew about the hairy bittercress, which I had been avoiding weeding even before I knew about the salad challenge, so that I could add it to a salad of some  kind. What  hadn’t realised is that I also have creeping wood sorrel and cat’s ear. I had resolved that the next salad for the challenge would be made up of these.

Grden weed salad, Jacket potato and cream cheese

Salad as everyday lunch

However, the snow had done for quite a few things. So, this week, I am left with salads of hairy bittercress, and a few leaves of rocket. I also have a few potatoes and some cream cheese left over from the market. Together, the salad has made a great combination with the soft cheese and the potato. This is mostly what I am having for lunch this week. This is win/win/win/win for me. I am using up the cooked jacket potatoes; I have a quick, yet hearty lunch; I am weeding the garden in preparation for the plants that will soon fill it; and I have a tasty use for the weeds, so I’m reducing waste.  For me, it has more than made up for the fact that last week I took my eye off the challenge!

CAUTION: Wood Sorrel contains oxalic acid. This is the stuff that makes rhubarb leaves inedible. Wood sorrel is fine in small amounts, but can exacerbate rheumatism, arthritis, gout, and kidney stones, so it is best avoided at all if you have these conditions. Additionally, while foraging for weeds in your own back garden may mean that you know more of what has gone onto the plants (and if you use weedkillers in your garden, don’t eat the weeds in it), it is always a good idea to follow some basic foraging rules to keep you safe.

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Signs of Life and an Unexpected Salad

First Anemone

First Flowers

Apart from going to the Neighbourfood Market, I also found some inspiration in the garden this weekend. As always, I was late with getting my broad beans and alliums in. They should get planted before the first frosts so that you get an early crop in the early summer.

We haven’t had any frost yet, as far as I can tell, so I was still able to plant them out, although they will be a bit later than I had hoped. In an attempt to do some decent successional sowing, for once, I have only planted half a bed with beans, so I can plant more later. I also still have onion sets, but no space in their designated beds, so I will plant them in planters when I get some potting compost mixed up. I planted Troy white onions and Onion Electric (red) from sets, and Marco Garlic. I only used the fattest cloves, from the outside of the bulbs. The rest are waiting in my cupboard to have in some dish or another. No point in wasting them! The beans were Aquadulce Claudia and the reliable Sutton.

Primula

Early Colour

I also planted a French leaf salad mix, and some rocket to grow indoors as cut and come again salad, because I need something to use for the 52 Week Salad Challenge, as issued by Veg Plotting. I have decided to join this, because I like to grow my own, and forage for food. Salad leaves grow fairly quickly, so they should be good to help me get much better at the rhythm required for successional planting, which I am not great at. And I hope that it will help me to be more creative when it comes to salad. We eat a fair amount of salads, but they tend to be very samey, so I hope this will force me to think of more diverse things to go in them, and more creative dressings.

Raddiccio & Leaf Chicory

Hidden Gems, not Little

I currently have some rocket, mizuna, endive, perpetual spinach, fennel, beetroots, flat leaf parsley, and some carrots in the garden, all of which can be used as salad leaves, so I have time before my other seeds grow.There should be loads of things already starting in the wild that I can pick, but I won’t get foraging for a couple of weeks. We were also clearing an unloved part of the garden at the weekend, and we found some bonus lettuce in a planter that had seeded itself – a radicchio and I think the green one is a leaf chicory.

I only heard about the challenge when I got back from Australia, so this will have to be a 50 week challenge for me. I may not post about this every week, although I will tweet my pictures weekly. I guess it depends how excited I am about my salad in any given week!

Egg Mayo & Rocket

Salad as Comfort Food

Last week was my first. I was fresh back from Australia, and away from all the lovely fresh, summer produce I cooked with there. I didn’t want a salad in the traditional sense, I think it would have disappointed. Instead, I found myself craving the comfort of an egg sandwich. Nothing goes better with egg mayonnaise than some sharp, peppery rocket. I found that I couldn’t shake the idea long enough to find any other kind of salad inspiration, so that was what I had.

This week should have been altogether more exciting. I had an aubergine that needed to be used up, and I had decided to use that bonus radicchio, although it will be sad not to have it sitting resplendent and red in the brown winter garden.

I made Divalicous’ Aubergine, Tomato and Sumac Salad. I am trying to cook with more spicy food, and I found this one last summer. Do give it a go – sumac can be found in many local stores these days. I left out the tomato this time, because I have no interest in the kind of watery tasteless ones that you can get at this time of year. Instead, I used more flat leaf parsley, added some carrot leaves and upped the amount of dressing. I also served it hot.

I had intended to quarter the radicchio, and put it onto the griddle pan after the aubergine had cooked. I wanted it to char, along with some red pepper, and serve it with a lemon and parmesan vinaigrette. The charring softens the radicchio’s sharp quality, and gives it a nutty flavour. If you try it, be really careful, they will burn in seconds, once they start to char. Slightly blackened edges is what you should aim for, but no more. I would have stirred through some quinoa for bulk.

However, while my back was turned, as I put the first batch of aubergine on, the Big Guy came along, and separated the leaves of the radicchio, making it too flimsy to try to char. So a rethink was required. Inspired  by Divalicious’ mention of fattoush on her salad post,  I decided to make a kind of fattoush sandwich in pita, with the radicchio and aubergine salad on top. It wasn’t as substantial as the other way would have been, but it was really tasty nonetheless.

Aubergine & sumac Salad on Raddiccio

Salad as Improv

Something else that I have found this week is Foodcycle, who collect surplus food, and cook it in a café where you can pay what you can afford. Inspiring stuff, doing things that are close to my heart. I think their project rocks, and they are trying to crowdfund to enable them to keep running. They only need £5k to run for a year, which is a ridiculously small amount for all that they achieve. They have 4 days left to hit this target. If you can, please go along and pledge a little, you won’t have to pay if they don’t hit target, but every little helps, as they say.

Unfortunately, the crowd funding scheme is currently only set up for people in the UK, so if you are outside of that jurisdiction, then you can make a direct donation through their money giving site. I know they are very grateful for all donations as well. Or try and find a local scheme that you can help out. If you do, I’d love to hear about it.

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Aussie Christmas dinner

Moreton Bay Bugs & Thai Salad

Alternative Christmas Dinner

We are in Australia. Posting may be sporadic, but I do want to do my Christmas dinner, and custard based recipes. I may well leave the acceptable way with sprouts post, that I have not really written yet, to next Christmas now!

Anyway, this year we are having Christmas by ourselves in Cairns. An Aussie Christmas has to have seafood, and should also include a barbecue somewhere in the proceedings. We were very lucky indeed, and also had access to a pool and an entire rainforest to ourselves, since no one else was about. All in all, it was a pretty brilliant day.

We were lucky enough to get hold of some Moreton Bay Bugs, which are actually a kind of slipper lobster. Most Moreton Bay Bugs are caught as by-catch from the prawn and scallop fishing industries, both of which are trawled for. Trawling is a highly destructive practice, resulting in a lot of unintended species netted (bycatch) and destruction of the sea bed. The Australian Marine Conservation Society urges you to ‘Think Twice‘ before eating them, largely as a result of the catch method involved. We found a fish market that claimed that they were sustainably caught. It is possible to scuba dive for these, as it is for scallops, but these are very difficult to find.

Moreton Bay Bugs

Green Bugs

Anyway, if you do get them, you need green (uncooked) bugs if you want to barbecue them. They cannot live long out of water, and spoil much quicker than crabs or lobster, so this may not be easy. Never reheat them, so if all you can get is cooked, just eat them cold.

In North Queensland, fresh (and ripe!) tropical fruits are sold all over the place. They are cheap and plentiful. I had been thinking that mango, papaya, chili and lime would be perfect partners for the sweetness of the bugs, which naturally leads you to Thai flavours. They typically use green papaya, and I only had ripe, but I made do with what I had.

I hope that I am not one for boasting, but the result was really good. I was very proud of our tasty little Christmas Dinner.

I have given the recipe below, but if you cannot find Moreton Bay Bugs, you could substitute with scallops, langoustines, or even lobster if you are feeling decadent! Just please check out how they are caught, and try to get sustainably caught and managed fish where you can – the ocean is an important source of food for us, and keeps a lot of communities going, but only if we look after it well. Something which is sadly not happening too much these days.Your local Marine Conservation Society can help  give you an idea of fish stocks and some sustainably managed areas (although their system is not perfect). If you don’t have this, then organisations like Greenpeace can tell you which species to avoid altogether.

If you can’t or won’t get any of these, just have the salad – it is really tasty on its own.

Recipe: Moreton Bay Bugs and Vietnamese Salad

Ingredients

Moreton Bay Bugs – 3 per person

For the salad dressing:

1 small hot chilli (eg bird’s eye)

2 cloves garlic

4 tbsp lime juice

4 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tbsp coriander stalks

1 tbsp mint leaves

For the salad:

Mixed salad leaves

Asparagus

Cucumber

Beansprouts

Coriander leaves

Mint leaves

Papaya

Chopped, unsalted peanuts

For the noodles:

1 pack noodles

1 spring onion

chopped chilli

lime vinaigrette

Method

Make the salad dressing. Mix the lime, fish sauce and the sugar, until the sugar has dissolved. Mince the garlic using your knife, deseed the chilli (or leave them in if you like things really hot) and chop it finely. Chop the coriander stalks and mint leaves as finely as you can. Add all of these to the lime mix, and taste for balance, you may need to add a touch more lime or chilli, to your taste. Set aside for the flavours to develop.

A short period of time in the freezer should be enough to kill the bugs humanely. Slice the bugs in half, lengthways, with a sharp knife. You will then need to clean the digestive tract and the head.

Make the salad, by mixing up the salad leaves, a good bunch of coriander, a handful of mint leaves, and julienned cucumber and papaya. Wash the beansprouts well, before adding them, and blanch the asparagus, and cut the stalks into 3-4 pieces, on the angle. I would also have added grated carrot, but we managed to lose the carrots somewhere between the shop and home, so no carrots for us.  Mix together well, and set aside.

Oil the flesh of the bugs, with a squeeze of lime, and place on a hot barbecue, flesh side down for about 8 minutes. Then flip them to colour the shells. They are done when the flesh becomes opaque.

Meanwhile, make the noodles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Thinly slice the spring onion and the chilli and add to the vinaigrette. I had a very simple lime vinaigrette left over from the previous day’s lunch, but you can make up your own with 1 part lime juice to 3 parts olive oil. Leave the chilli and the onion to macerate to take the raw edge off them. When the noodles are cooked, drain, and pour over the vinaigrette, and mix well, so that the noodles don’t stick.

When everything is cooked, dress the salad with the dressing you made earlier, and toss together well. Plate up the noodles and the salad, and sprinkle with chopped, unsalted peanuts. Serve with the warm bugs, and a cold glass of wine. Next to a pool in the tropics, by preference.

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