I have been on the search for the perfect salad for a while – one that ticks all the boxes of texture and taste and is a veritable party in your mouth. Despite the fact we are going into winter I still enjoy a nice crunchy and crispy salad to accompany a stew or pie or even a roast and this is really the perfect mix of showstopping crunchy, creamy, sweet and tangy ingredients.
There are not many parts to it but each part does require a bit of prep however I encourage you to make more of the roasted peppers and marinated cucumber as they will store well and will be fabulous on sandwiches and in other salads too. You can make several of the various parts beforehand so all you have to do on the day is assemble.
I would have preferred to use baby gem lettuce and cut into quarters but I couldn’t find any on the day and the Cos lettuce worked nicely as it provided little pockets for the other ingredients to nestle in.
Ingredients – 6 pax
2 heads of Cos lettuce washed and leaves separated or 6 baby gem lettuce heads
2 red peppers de-seeded and sliced into thick strips
2 tbsp olive oil
6 pink radish washed and thinly sliced
4 tbsp white wine vinegar, pinch salt and 1 tsp castor sugar
1 English cucumber deseeded and sliced
1 tbsp fresh dill or dry dill
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint & 2 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley
2 tbsp mirin or 2 tbsp white wine vinegar mixed with 1 tsp honey/maple
1 small clove garlic crushed
1 cup of nut & seed mix – I chose mac nuts (pecans would work nicely) with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and a small amount of sesame seeds.
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup castor sugar ( I favour the golden castor from Natura as its unbleached)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup thick natural yogurt
1 tbsp full cream mayonaise
3 tbsp fresh dill, mint & parsley each
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp Mirin (or 3 tbsp white wine vinegar with 1 tsp honey)
squeeze of lemon to taste
Place all dressing ingredients in a small blender or food processor and blend till smooth and taste to adjust season.
Start by prepping the various parts to the salad:
Red Peppers: Heat the oven to 180C – mix the pepper slices with the olive oil, some salt and roast on a tray for 20-25 mins in a preheated oven till the edges are caramelized and the peppers are roasted nicely. you can store these in a tupperware for up to a week and they are delicious on many different things. You could also use pre- roasted and marinated peppers instead of this step.
Caramelized Nuts: Place your cup of mixed seeds and nuts into a non stick saucepan and add the sugar and butter. Start on a low heat and allow the butter to melt and then keep mixing gently until the sugar melts and everything mixes together nicely. When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and nuts are coated. Transfer immediately onto a sheet of baking paper and separate the nuts right away. Leave to cool thoroughly and store in a jar as you wont use all of them on the salad – be warned they are very moreish!
Marinated cucumbers: finely chop your fresh herbs with the garlic clove and add your mirin or vinegar to make a herby paste. Toss your cucumbers in the fresh herb salsa and salt to taste. You can store these in a jar for up to 3 days or more but they will lose crunch.
Pickled radish: Place the sliced radish in a bowl and add the pinch salt, tsp sugar and vinegar and mix well till sugar is dissolved. Again you can store these in a jar in the fridge but I prefer them to have retained their crunch so I make these an hour before serving or so.
Assemble the salad how you like and drizzle the dressing on top before serving!