Summertime and the salads are easy!
It’s wonderful that exciting and tasty salads are now firmly on the menus of us all, whether we’re eating at home or dining out. Long gone are the days of lettuce leaves in a bowl with some sliced cucumber and tomatoes sometimes jazzed up with a few radishes or a handful of cress!
Over the years the limited salad seasoning options of salad cream, vinaigrette or mayonnaise were enhanced by the addition of American style creamy dressings such as Thousand Island, Blue Cheese and Caesar dressings.
However, more likely to be seen on today’s menus are medleys of exotic leaves, fresh herbs, nuts, fruits, seeds, pulses and grains drizzled with imaginative dressings often containing salad spices and seasonings.
Oils infused with sensational flavours then blended with inspiring vinegars provide the perfect backdrop to interesting and unusual spices, which in turn give a unique twist to the fresh ingredients of a salad. Balsamic vinegar is as popular as ever but there are now fabulous artisan vinegars available made from fruits, berries and herbs, that add yet another dimension to a salad dressing.
If you and your family favour more traditional salads, you can still jazz them up with relative ease. For instance, take the humble coleslaw, usually a simple mix of finely shredded cabbage and carrots bound together with mayonnaise. This staple side salad can be elevated to new heights by simple variations to the basic recipe.
To make a tasty and vibrant Mexican style spicy coleslaw just stir a couple of teaspoons of Fajita seasoning into your mayonnaise before adding to shredded cabbage and carrots mixed with finely sliced red, green and yellow peppers, that’s it!
Alternatively, enliven your salads with light yet flavourful dressings, inspired by international cuisines. For an Italian style dressing just mix a crushed clove of garlic with 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and large pinches of oregano, crushed fennel seeds, celery salt & cracked black pepper.
Experimenting with salad dressings and spices in salads can be great fun and limited only by your sense of adventure in the kitchen! For instance, try infusing your oils with unusual herbs such as Australian Lemon Myrtle or Mexican Oregano for a dressing with a difference.
Rice or couscous based salads offer themselves wholeheartedly to the addition of spice blends, along with a plethora of finely chopped fresh herbs and diced tomatoes, olives, spring onions etc. Our favourites to use are Middle Eastern Zahtar, Moroccan Ras-el-Hanout and Iranian Sabzi Ghormeh, all these are wonderful used as salad spices.
Certain spices and spice blends lend themselves to being used as salad seasonings when simply sprinkled over salads, not only being aesthetically pleasing but also adding flavour and texture. African Tsire powder, a spicy mix containing crushed peanuts works wonderfully on salads as do crushed Sumac berries, imparting a fruity lemony flavour and vivid colour.
The seasalt and sesame seeds in Japanese Goma Shio add texture and bring out the flavour of salad ingredients, especially leaves and tomatoes. Additionally, nutty Middle Eastern Dukkah traditionally eaten with bread and oil, is also superb as a salad seasoning.
Last but certainly not least to consider in your salads are our Knead the Seed mixes. For ultimate crunch and flavour you can sprinkle either of our nutritious seed mixes into a salad. The glorious selections of seeds give every mouthful a wonderful surprise! You can choose between the five seed mix of chunky pumpkin seeds, sunflower, chia and linseed or the finer eight seed mix of tiny seeds such as chia, poppy, linseed, sesame and nigella seeds.
However you choose to use spices in salads, we are sure that you won’t return to a plate of undressed lettuce leaves ever again!