Grape, Strawberry & Mandarin Orange Salad With Mint
We were sitting down with mugs of steaming hot coffee in our hands the other evening, and there was a food show on television. The chef was putting together a salad which was mostly a bunch of different coloured leaves and I was wondering how it is that a lot of people can eat so much of raw leaves (even with a dressing of some sort) on a regular basis in the name of a salad.
This wasn't crticism but nothing more than an idle remark based on my personal preferences because I'm not a fan of raw vegetable salads especially those that are mostly leafy greens. That led me to remarking to my husband that it was interesting that we belong to a community that comes from a purely vegetarian food tradition and cuisine (no eggs and traditionally not even onions and garlic), yet we don’t eat any vegetable in its raw form – not even those than cane be like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that this probably because t is known that raw vegetables are very difficult to digest, even the ones that can be eaten raw, so cooking vegetables is the way to go. Also, in a purely vegetarian diet there is little or no need for additional dietary fibre in the form of salads.
Having said that, our lifestyles have changed much since those days when people ate with discipline and led very active lives. So it is the order of the day to include a salad at least once a day, at least that is what the doctor tells us. I’m slowly getting used to salads being a part of my diet but I must say they aren't my favourite dish by far.
So I’m always looking for ways to make my salads interesting enough and tempting. I still tend to avoid green leaves but I like cooked salads or raw salads that are nice mix of a little sweet and a little sour. I invariably tend to make my salads with vegetables, fruit and nuts/ seeds, or maybe even all fruit.
Today’s salad is an all fruit salad that uses some of this season’s produce – strawberries, black grapes and Mandarin oranges. In India, the most well-known Mandarin oranges are those famous Nagpur oranges with very loose skins which I remember being referred to as “loose jackets” in my childhood. Come beginning of summer and any train journey through Nagpur was incomplete without the purchase of huge amounts of these sweet, juicy thirst quenching oranges.
You can serve this salad on the side as a main dish or even as a dessert by leaving out the dressing and serving it with vanilla ice-cream, sweetened cream or a vanilla custard sauce.
For the dressing:
- Toast the sunflower seeds/ pine nuts in a skillet until light golden in colour. Set aside to cool.
- Put the sliced strawberries, grapes and orange sections in a large salad bowl. Add the mint, reserving a few leaves for garnishing. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the salad.
- Make the dressing and just before serving add it to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper and toss lightly so that the salad is evenly coated in the dressing. Sprinkle the nuts on top and garnish with mint.