Let me tell you something that’s been on my mind before I talk about my Grape, Strawberry And Mandarin Orange Salad. We were sitting down in front of the television the other evening, sipping on steaming hot coffee. There was a food show on. The chef was making a salad which was mostly a bunch of different coloured leaves. That got me thinking about how a lot of people can eat so much of raw leaves. Even with a dressing of some sort, it sounds difficult to me. I come from a vegetarian tradition but we don’t eat raw leaves.
This isn’t criticism or my being judgmental. Really. It’s just an idle remark based on my personal preferences. I’m not a fan of raw vegetable salads especially those that are mostly leafy greens. I remarked to my husband that it was interesting that we are from a community with a purely vegetarian food tradition. Our cuisine does not include eggs and traditionally not even onions and garlic. Yet we don’t eat any vegetable in its raw form, not even carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that this must be because raw vegetables are not easily digested. Even those that can be eaten raw. Cooking vegetables makes them easier to digest. Also, in a purely vegetarian diet there is very little need for additional dietary fibre in the form of salads.
Having said that, our lifestyles have changed much since times when people ate with discipline and led active lives. The doctor tells us to include a salad of some sort in our meals once a day. So I’m slowly getting used to salads being a regular part of my life. That doesn’t mean they’re a favourite dish by far. So I’m always looking for ways to make my salads interesting enough to tempt me. I still avoid green leaves if I can. I do like cooked salads or raw salads that are nice mix of a little sweet and a little sour. So my salads are mostly a mix of vegetables, fruit and nuts/ seeds. Occasionally they’re all fruit.
Today’s Grape, Strawberry And Mandarin Orange 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 Nagpur oranges. They come with very loose skins that can be peeled off easily. We used to call them “loose jackets” in my childhood. Summer time train journeys through Nagpur were incomplete without eating these sweet, juicy thirst quenching oranges.
You can serve this salad on the side as a main dish. Leave out the dressing and serve as dessert with vanilla ice-cream, sweetened cream or a vanilla custard sauce.
Grape, Strawberry And Mandarin Orange Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries hulled, cleaned and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups seedless black grapes whole or halved
- 1 cup mandarin orange sections
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds or pine nuts
- small bunch fresh mint leaves
For the Dressing:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsps orange juice
- 2 tsps honey
- to taste crushed black pepper
- to taste salt
- 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 youu2019re 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.