Now that Summer and Christmas are just around the corner, I thought that I would share the salad I made today when our friends came for a late dinner.
This salad was very much made up on the spot with what I had in the fridge, but turned out to be the quintessential Spring/Summer Salad and makes use of two of my favourite ingredients, which pair together very well, mango and asparagus. Both mango and asparagus have very short seasons, which makes me very sad, but it has meant that we have been eating a lot of them lately to make the most of them while they are in season.
I’ve posted about how to throw together a delicious salad before, but my key tips are:
- Start with a leaf – it could be lettuce, rocket, spinach or other.
- Add some veggies – this could be a roast vegetable or a blanched vegetable. In this case I have roasted some pumpkin and blanched some asparagus.
- Add some typical salad veggies – I have used cherry tomatoes.
- Add some fruit or something for a pop of sweetness – this is where the mango shines.
- Add some crunch – nuts or seeds work really well.
- Add some cheese and or dressing to bring it all together.
The key to a good salad is a balance of flavours, sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
Using this above framework allowed me to throw this salad together at the last minute and from the recipe below you can see how it all came together.
I hope this provides a delicious salad for your next gathering or family meal, or at least some inspiration for throwing together your own salad with what you have in the fridge.
- 300g pumpkin, peeled and diced into 1-2cm chunks
- 10 spears of asparagus, cut into thirds
- 1/2 a lettuce (I used oakleaf lettuce), torn
- 2 handfuls of rocket
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 an avocado, diced
- 1/2 a large mango, diced
- 1/3 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a tray with baking paper.
- Place diced pumpkin into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat. Place onto prepared tray and bake for ~30 minutes or until pumpkin is golden brown. Once cooked, set aside to cool slightly.
- Place chopped asparagus into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 3-4 minutes then refresh under cold water. Set aside.
- Prepare the dressing by placing all ingredients into a small jar or bowl and shake/stir well to combine. Set aside.
- Arrange the lettuce and rocket into the dish you are going to serve the salad in. Top with roast pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mango and asparagus.
- Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle the almonds. Lightly toss to allow the dressing to coat the salad and serve.
A salad with some BBQ’d meat is one of the quickest and easiest meals you can have.
Yesterday, we had some great friends over for an easy BBQ dinner and I threw this salad together. A salad doesn’t need to follow a recipe, and can use literally whatever ingredients you have in the fridge. There are just a few key things that take a salad from good to amazing:
- A combination of cooked and raw vegetables. This gives the salad an extra dimension. Common veggies that I will include in a salad are roast pumpkin, blanched broccoli or beans and grilled zucchini.
- Some crunch, and I’m talking more than just the crunch of carrot or lettuce – some form of nut or seed, preferably toasted works really well.
- Fruit. Some people will disagree with putting fruit in a salad, but I love the sweet pops that you get in a salad that has fruit. Apple, pear, pomegranate, stone fruit and mango all work really well.
- A well balanced dressing. Think sweet, salt, acid. The dressing is what brings the whole salad together and while many people believe that salad dressings are unhealthy, that is often not the case, and when made from scratch they can be a great way to add some essential fats to the salad in the form of quality oils.
- Protein. This can be some form of cheese, legume, nut or seed, or if you’re looking for a more substantial salad, a meat, chicken or fish.
Before making this salad, I knew I was going to use lettuce, some of the tomatoes from our garden, roast pumpkin and feta. As a started putting it together, all the other ingredients were just what was in the fridge, and in the end it came together to be quite the delicious salad.
When making your next salad, don’t over complicate it, use what you have on hand and follow my five tips above (or this recipe) and you’ll take your salads to the next level.
Serves 4-6 as a side
- 250g pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes, roasted
- 1 tbs EVOO
- 4 large handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
- 1 large handful of rocket leaves
- 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 12 green beans, blanched and cut in half
- 1/2 an avocado, cut into cubes
- 50g feta cheese
- Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
- Leaves of 2 thyme sprigs
- Handful of basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the chopped pumpkin into a small bowl, add olive oil and mix to coat. Place onto the tray and cook for ~35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
- Top and tail the beans and place into a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Run under cold water to refresh, cut beans in half.
- Make the dressing by placing all ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine. Set aside.
- Place lettuce leaves and rocket into a large bowl. Top with chopped tomato, pumpkin, beans, avocado. Just before serving, dress salad and gently toss to combine. Top with pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and toasted almonds.