Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

"... but it's too cold for salad!"

Steaming away on the stove - a cauldron of bubbling hot salad *. 
"...but it's too cold for salad!" is a regular teatime cry lately at VP Gardens. We eat salad year-round here because it suits our constitution, but when NAH's days involve hat, gloves, thermals and a 28-ton girlfriend, the hours of cold seeping into his bones defeats that intention.

I plan our meals and shopping with salads in mind, but I regularly have to improvise with store cupboard ingredients when the weather demands something piping hot at this time of the year. I then have a problem with what to do with my home-grown and any shop-bought salad ingredients** lurking in the fridge.

As you can see my usual solution is to make soup as this features regularly on our lunch menu. I chanced on The Guardian's "13 recipe ideas for leftover salad" recently which has some different ideas. I must admit I giggled at first as we rarely have any leftover food, but of course in this instance that's exactly what I have.

I'm definitely going to try the recipe for Chinese-style stir-fried lettuce. My Nepalese allotment neighbour told me they use the masses of lettuces she grows in stir-fries, just like we might use spinach. In the past I've rejected the notion of warm salads, but my chats with her have given me a fresh perspective on the foods we have in common, and the markedly different ways in which we use them.

I know many of you don't relish the thought of salad in winter, but seeing The 52 Week Salad Challenge has proved growing salad leaves is a good way of growing something fresh, tasty and year-round which also saves a ton of money compared to shop-bought, then perhaps these ideas and the following discoveries plundered from The Guardian might persuade you to think otherwise.

I've selected links where most of the warm salads featured use seasonal ingredients for this time of the year:


Do you have a favourite winter salad? Tell me about it in the Comments below - ideas for cold or warm salads are welcome.

* = in this instance it was 1 litre vegetable stock, 1 chopped onion, 4 cherry tomatoes, 1 small chopped green bell pepper, 1 chopped pointy red pepper, lots of freshly picked mixed leaves (fill the pot and they soon wilt down), 1 teaspoon mixed herbs and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes and then mash to a smooth soup with a hand blender. Surprisingly tasty.

** = I may be able to produce leaves year-round, but NAH's tastes salad-wise demand we still have lots of tomatoes, cucumber and peppers at this time of the year, despite my best efforts to provide something totally seasonal :(

*** = I had a fab Vietnamese meal with Naomi and Veronica in Finsbury Park late last year, so I intend to explore this cuisine further in 2015. Recipe or book recommendations on this topic are welcome!

9 comments:

  1. Really I guess that the only ingredient I think of as 'just salad' is lettuce really. Like you leftover food is not on the agenda other than one or two inedible scraps found in the bottom of the fridge. I'll peruse the recipes when I have a bit more time.

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  2. I had the most delicious warm salad at a friend's supper party over the weekend. It was peas, pea shoots, spinach and pulled ham hock with a tarragon dressing and served as a side for Bubble and Squeak! Yummy and, apart from the ham (unless you keep pigs) completely garden based. I'm on the hunt for the recipe! Thanks for the links, will definitely be checking those out!
    PS Love the 28 ton girlfriend! I went with the family to see The Railway Children at Kings Cross Theatre on Sunday and felt quite overwhelmed when a real steam train and carriage pulled into the theatre! Glorious!

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    1. Forgot to mention that the peas were cooked with the pea shoots and spinach wilted over the top, presumably. Anyhow, it was served warm and utterly delish! Warm salads are the way to go! xx

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  3. My littlest boy is an avid eater of raw vegetables, so I'm always able to use them up. He doesn't much like them cooked, and unfortunately my winter salad/vegetable production doesn't keep up. How lovely to have a Nepalese plot neighbour, glimpses of other cuisines and cultures are always so interesting. You have got me thinking about warm salads now.

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  4. We love eating salad all year round, but as I don't much like the shop bought leaves and only have very little of my own in the garden apart from lamb's ear lettuce right now, we don't always manage to get some. The salad Caro mentions sounds delicious.

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  5. I LOVE warm salads! My favorite is a warm tomato and spinach salad with candied pecans. I heat up the balsamic vinegar, Roma tomatoes, brown sugar and red onions. That gets poured over cold spinach and topped with candied pecans and goat cheese.

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  6. This is all brilliant. I am a big fan of soups as they seem to sustain me through the cold weather. I had some acupuncture last year and was told specifically to eat hot foods, so this will kick me in gear to be a bit more experimental with my winter favourites (celery, avocado, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and beetroot).

    Thank you!

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  7. Great post! My first try of a winter salad was many years ago, and to simplify the recipe here...., put all your salad ingredients together in a serving bowl, and then, on the stove, fry up any type of sausage cut up, cured or fresh, onions and perhaps sweet peppers. Then toss together just before serving allowing the greens to wilt just a bit and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add herbs and spices to your own desire even cheese. Brandon's recipe sounds wonderful!

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  8. Thanks for your comments everyone, especially the recipe ideas. I'm going to try all of them out :-)

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