Summer temperatures are soaring like never before, and very early on in the season. While we are all trying to keep ourselves and our sanities intact at 40 degrees plus temperatures, with air conditioners, water coolers, ceiling fans, hand fans and fan fans (read ShahRukh Khan), and taking multiple showers (for those who have the luxury of water, and the energy to budge!), we also need to switch on our internal fans to cool our body from the inside. That’s where salads come into the picture. And if you are already groaning thinking about the boring old pieces of tomato and cucumber hastily thrown together with a little bit of salt, pepper and an occasional squeeze of lemon, groan no more my foodie friends. Here are a few quick combos to make your salads perky, quirky and yes, slurpy too!
- Pick out 2 or 3 different types of in-season mushrooms. Clean, chop, saute in butter and chilli flakes, mix up with a handful of boiled sweet corn, and add small chunks of fresh cottage cheese. Season with salt n pepper, and serve warm or cold with a simple lemon-oil dressing.
- Coat thin slices of aubergines with salt and oil and grill in oven, or toast on low flame in a pan. Toss in roughly-torn mixed lettuce leaves and a handful of halved, seedless black and green grapes. Season and serve this gorgeous salad with a light yoghurt dressing.
- Dry roast soya granules in a deep pan with a little butter or olive oil. Thinly grate carrots, mix in boiled peas and then add the roasted soya for a crunchy, juicy wonder of a salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
- Slice cucumber thinly lengthwise, add peeled and deseeded orange segments, mix in some chopped dill, season and serve with little pieces of lightly toasted old bread crusts.
- Prepare a bowl of couscous as per packet instructions, add slices of roasted bell pepper, little blobs of feta cheese, a pinch of cinnamon powder, a few pine nuts and a couple of roughly-torn mint leaves to make a hearty, middle-eastern style insalata!
And my THREE bonus, best-kept salad secrets :
- Always dry your leaves. No fancy salad spinner, no problem! Just line any plastic bag with tissues, pop in the washed drained lettuce, and give the bag a good spin over your head.
- If your salad is a beautiful, layered centre-piece, season every layer with salt, pepper, olive oil and a bit of salad dressing. Not too much so it becomes too salty, not too less so the bottom layer tastes like raw grass 😉
- In a bowl-tossed salad, always mix in the hard ingredients like the seeds, nuts, corn etc. first, and just before serving toss in the leafy and soft ingredients, with a flash of good olive oil on top for that fresh, bright look.
All set to take on the summer? Go get it!