There are people who enjoy salads, and I’m really not one of them. This probably has to do with the fact that, though we are vegetarian and cook vegetables in hundreds of different combinations, our traditional cuisine has hardly any preparations that include raw vegetables.
My parents quite liked salads and I still have memories of my sister working her way steadily through a bowl of cucumber sticks as a child! I guess that makes me the odd one out.
When we were younger and whenever we were in a country outside India, being vegetarian meant our meal options were largely limited to bread, fresh fruit and salads.
One scenario which always comes to my mind (the country and the language differed) was our trying to order lunch at a restaurant, with the waiter in attendance wearing a totally puzzled look on his face. What did one serve a person who didn’t speak you language, and wouldn’t eat meat, fish or eggs (my mother doesn’t eat eggs)?
After much gesticulation and our murdering a lot of the local phrases in the guide book, a very happy smile would light up his face and he would exclaim “Salad!” or whatever the equivalent was in his language. He would then hurry and return with a plate of salted and peppered raw vegetables most of which consisted of lettuce!
Poor guy! He could never understand why we didn’t look as happy as he felt, when he had finally found an option for us to lunch on!!
Luckily for me, there is more to salads than raw vegetables.
Whatever your preference when it comes to salads, I’m sure you can find it in “500 Salads: The Only Salad Compendium You’ll Ever Need” by Susannah Blake. The publishers of this book, Sellers Publishers, had sent me a copy of this book along with Petite Sweets.
Susannah Blake has written over 10 books as well in various magazines and newspapers. She concentrates on healthy cooking and eating, especially with seasonal fruit and vegetables. Her other books are 500 Appetizers, 500 Cakes and 500 Soups.
500 Salads is a rather small and conveniently sized book of under 300 pages, and the latest in the “500” series of books from this publisher. The salads in this book range from warm and chilled salads to those which could be a light lunch, a complete meal or as a side to a main meal.
The recipes are divided into chapters titled classic salads, light & healthy salads, warm salads, grain and bean salads, pasta salads, slaws and shredded salads, main course salads, asian style salads and fruit salads. Each chapter ends with 4 or 5 possible ingredient variations for each of the main salad recipes therein.
The book also has an introductory chapter dealing with equipment, various ingredients, garnishes as well as dressings used in salads.
The recipes have reasonably short ingredient lists, and most of the ingredients are commonly and easily available. The recipes are very concise, well presented and accompanied by beautiful photographs. As a not-so-big-fan of salads, I must admit it is those photographs which caught my attention when I first thumbed through the book.
While some of the salads are non-vegetarian, a large part of the recipes are perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
Organic bean sprouts salad
Some of the recipes are pretty simple and I’m sure a lot of us would have invariably come up with variations of these in our kitchens at some time or the other. Yet there are some other interesting ingredient combinations that would have never thought of.
This book promises 500 salad recipes and there are 500 recipes in the book. However, in reality, there are about 90 recipes with variations of each which altogether do add up to 500 recipes.
If you this doesn’t bother you (and it really shouldn’t), I think this little book has a pretty good collection of salads whether it’s the all time favourites like a caesar or potato salad, a simple one like the chopped tomato salad with scallions, or a rather tropical fruit salad with coconut milk.
Fruit salad with coconut milk
I made a few and I think I could get used to some of them. Here’s the “Fruit salad with coconut milk”. What struck me as slightly different about this fruit salad was the use of coconut milk and the cilantro/ coriander.
This is a good dessert for the summer, light and very easy to put together.
2 blood oranges (I used regular oranges)
1 baby pineapple
2/3 cup unsweetened thick coconut milk
1 tbsp honey
freshly squeezed lemon juice
seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
Peel, halve and slice the oranges. Peel, trim and dice the pineapple. Peel, quarter, core and dice apple. Peel and dice the kiwi fruit. Peel and slice the banana.
In a large serving bowl, mix all the fruit with the coconut milk, honey and lemon juice. Taste and add more honey or lemon juice as required. Mix in the pomegranate seeds and cilantro, chill and serve.
This recipe serves 4.