SO this month I hope you’ll humour me, as I share four more simple salads I love to make at home. We’re kicking off the series with this new-ish one I have recently concocted, inspired by a classic meal I love at one of my fave Melbourne restaurants – City Wine Shop (you know, on Spring st, next to The European). The Wine Shop serve a green coleslaw style salad with baby peas, quite similar to this. I love it so much, I invented my own version.
I’m quite partial to a salad with a bit of crunch. This one presents an unexpectedly brilliant flavour combination – peppery watercress and sweet baby peas. The inclusion of peas may seem odd in a cold salad, but in fact these are the star ingredient! Their bright sweetness is the ideal complement to the bitter watercress leaves, they just work so well together. The parmesan really rounds the dish off perfectly – make sure you stir it right through the dish, rather than just sprinkling on top.
Please note, I’m no food stylist (although I do try!), and in shooting this series we learned quite quickly that there really is nothing photogenic about creamy salad dressing, no matter how delicious it is! For this reason, our photograph above shows the dressing served on the side – for aesthetic reasons only! Before you serve your own version, do stir the dressing right through… and don’t waste a drop!
This salad is super versatile, it’s great served with crumbled chicken schnitzel (just as they do at The Wine Shop), or with a juicy lamb cutlet, or a fillet of fresh fish. Oh Gawwwdd, I’m making myself hungry.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish)
For the salad
¼ red cabbage
¼ green cabbage (a slightly softer leaved, ‘frilly’ edged green cabbage works better than a very hard white-ish one, if you can find one.)
5 small pink radishes
1 generous bunch watercress
75g strong flavoured Italian parmesan / reggiano cheese
Half a cup of sweet baby peas (either fresh or frozen is fine!)
For the dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons mayonnaise (Best Foods is best!)
1 teaspoon tahini
2 pinches of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Firstly, cook your peas. Whilst fresh peas are delicious, let’s face it, shelling peas is not exactly a weeknight activity, so if you’re pressed for time it is perfectly fine to use frozen baby peas. (baby peas, along with broad beans, seem to be the only vegetables that truly taste just as good after freezing as they do fresh!). Boil a small saucepan of water, and once it’s bubbling add the peas. They’ll be cooked when they’re vibrant green and float to the surface – frozen peas will be done in a flash, fresh peas will take a little longer. When cooked, immediately drain and run under a cold tap to stop them cooking.
Slice up both cabbages very finely.
Wash the watercress thoroughly, then spin / dry as best you can to avoid adding too much water to the salad. The watercress takes a little bit of ‘weeding’ before you add it to the salad – try and pluck out the very thick stems and any ratty leaves by hand, but you can leave the finer stems in.
Scrub and slice your radishes as thinly as you can into little discs. Grate your parmesan very finely.
For the dressing, simply combine all dressing ingredients, tasting as you go. I am quite generous with the nutmeg as I feel it adds a fantastic depth to this dressing. If you have one, use a bar mix (I think other people call it a ‘stick blender’!?) to whizz up the salad dressing. If not, chuck it all in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously!
Pop all your vegetables in your serving bowl, add dressing, mix and serve immediately. Being quite leafy, this salad doesn’t keep well once dressed, so if it looks like you’ll have a lot leftover, pop some aside before you add the dressing, and save some dressing too. It’ll make a great lunch the next day.