Photo by Tam West
Whatever else is on the menu, if you start with a salad you’re doing yourself all sorts of favours and you will enjoy it more when your tastebuds are fresh and hungry. For nutrients we simply can’t do better than raw vegetables: plant fibre is the only thing good gut bacteria eat, and the vitamins, minerals and enzymes in veges play a crucial role in the biochemical reactions that keep us alive (thanks Dr Libby, I loved what you said about this at your recent talk).
With this in mind I’m sharing a simple salad, shown here as a stripped-down version so you get the key idea, green leafy bits on the bottom and rich colourful stuff on top. You can add darker greens like silverbeet or kale to the bottom layer if you have them. Mixing the colours together makes a mess, and I only dress the colourful stuff, so I can dive into a richer taste with my fork when I want to — it’s fun to have flavour variety in one bowl.
Colour variety is appealing and sets up an expectation of yum. My new trick is to only partly mix the carrot and beetroot so it makes a mini-rainbow going from orange to purple. The way these are grated makes a huge difference to their taste, finer makes them more juicy and enjoyable (as long as they’re not mush). I often do a mix of fine and coarse to get it just right. Think of this recipe as a foundation to build your own creation on top of, playing each evening with what’s available and strikes your fancy. And as Andrew suggests below, a sprinkle of toasted seeds goes well on top.
- Tear the cos into bite-sized pieces and place in a mixing bowl with baby spinach. Cut the cucumber on diagonals turning it between cuts so you get interesting angles to enjoy with when you eat it. Add with orange juice to bowl and toss around to coat evenly, then place into serving bowls.
- Grate carrot into a bowl and dress with salt, vinegar and flaxseed oil then mix to combine well.
- Grate beetroot on top and use a fork to partly combine, allowing the colours of carrot and beetroot to mingle but retaining unmixed areas. Place some pieces of orange and golden kiwifruit around the sides for sweet, tangy contrast.