The most important thing is to get some of that ridiculously fresh and brutal rocket. Locally grown irregular leaves that actually have the nerve to get big, not just those tiny pathetic ones you get in supermarkets. I never knew rocket until I got the good shit. Seriously, makes all the difference.
Anyway, then add some radish (quite small choppings) for even more pepperyness but a bit of extra moisture.
I love beetroot in salads, so chuck some of that in.
And put in some nuts or halloumi. I’d go with both. And Pine nuts, which probably aren’t really nuts in the strictest sense, but fuck it, they are cute.
Then I’d dress it in a simple balsamic and fancy olive oil thing. Little bit of sugar and some yeast flakes if they’re about, plenty of pepper, tiniest bit of sald. Smoosh it about a shed load. Then chuck it all in.
Oh. And roast the halloumi first, with a load of cayenne pepper and a little extra splash of the balsamic. (In fact, you can basically make the same vinagrette, cover the hallmoumi in it before you roast them, and use the drippings as your dressing….some would conisder this a bit gross, but actually, it makes for quite a warming oil).
Whether this is an interesting salad or not, I don’t know. It’s just how I like to do things, and I think most people would disagree, so that’s an interest, right?
The really interesting salads try to step outside the obvious a bit more.
I don’t know, maybe strips of gherkin and mango in a raspberry coulis.
Finely chopped spring onion on rough cut rocket with goats cheese encrusted croutons, sprinkled with an olive oil diluted hot lime pickle.
There’s an element of balance to salads, but realistically, you can just chuck loads of stuff in a bowl and drizzle it in some wetter stuff and you’ve got a salad.
(Okay, so you couldn’t put car parts and light bulbs in a bowl and drizzle a little dishwater on them, but you get my point).
Salad making is about finding odd fresh ingredients, chopping them in interesting ways, and trying to make a nice dressing.
Fruits are good (but not more than one per salad…actually, fuck it, there are no fucking rules).
I’m actually most boring with the dressing, but only because I lust so hard for balsamic vinegar.
That’s actually it.
Finally remembered the third pepperyness in the best salad I ever made.
Totally rocket, red cabbage, radish, beetroot, pine nuts, halloumi, tomatoes. Gorgeous.
It’s all about slicing things so they end up getting into your mouth in the right kind of assortments. That’s more of a knack. Or a habit. I forget which. In the above, the cabbage should be proper thin, or you end up spending more time crunching through it than you do doing anything else.
I love salads. I wish I made them more often.
Illustration by Andy.