Interesting salad ingredients from around the world

Interesting salad ingredients from around the world

Jazz up your summer salads with these luscious exotic ingredients

Jazz up your summer salads with these luscious exotic ingredients

They’re a healthy diet staple but, let’s be honest, salads can easily start looking (and tasting) the same.

Here are a few unexpected ingredients to add to your next bowl of leaves to supercharge the flavour.

The grain: freekeh

Delicious and packed with vitamins, freekeh will give any salad a punchy twist – its smoky flavour really brings the other ingredients in a dish to life. It’s often sold in packets (find it in the grain aisle – next to quinoa, spelt and barley).

To cook, dry-fry in a pan until the freekeh starts to release its heady aromas, then add water and cook according to packet instructions.

When rested, stir in finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions, parsley and mint, mixing well to combine.

Whisk together a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle over to serve. Wonderful!

The fruit: orange

A zesty orange dressing works really well with bitter leaves such as rocket and watercress, along with salty cheeses like feta. Scatter with pumpkin seeds and toasted pine nuts for extra crunch.

To make the dressing, combine 1tsp of grated orange zest with 100ml orange juice in a pan and reduce until it starts to thicken, then cool.

Combine with 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil and whisk well.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the leaves, crumbled cheese, seeds and nuts.

The cheese: pecorino

Made from sheeps’ milk, this hard-Italian cheese is deliciously rich – milk from sheep contains more fat than goats’ or cows’ milk. Pecorino can be sharp and salty or sweet and mild – experiment to find the variety that best suits your palate.

It livens up a basic spinach salad a treat – place a couple of handfuls of spinach in a bowl, add half a grated carrot and a handful of sultanas and mix, then scatter liberally with shavings of cheese.

Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and half a tsp sugar to dress. Delicious!

The wildcard: sauerkraut

It’s the queen of all things fermented, and adds a fantastically tasty tang to any salad. It’s packed full of good bacteria as well, which keeps our digestive systems happy.

Pick up a jar of raw sauerkraut in the supermarket or make it yourself – it’s easier than you think (although it does take a few days to ferment properly).

Simply slice and dice one medium head of green cabbage, discarding the outer leaves and tough core, and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Sprinkle with one and a half tsp salt, really working the salt through the leaves so that they start to go limp. Then push the leaves down into a glass jar big enough to hold them all, remembering to leave an inch or two of space at the top.

Place a clean cloth over the cabbage and weigh down with clean pebbles or heavy marbles to ensure all the cabbage stays nicely submerged in the liquid that will soon start to be drawn out.

Leave in a cool, dark place for between three to 10 days, checking regularly to ensure the cabbage remains submerged beneath the liquid. When it tastes deliciously piquant, remove the cloth, secure the lid and chill – it’ll keep for a couple of months this way. Yum!

Chef’s tip

Professional kitchens ‘work clean’ – peelings and waste go straight into the bin and they wash up as they cook so their workspace is always pristine.

A powerful washing-up liquid is essential – just one 780ml bottle of Fairy Platinum will take care of up to 12,000 plates, leaving them grease-free and sparkling again. No matter how good the food, there’s nothing more unappetising than a dirty kitchen.

What’s your favourite special ingredient you add to your salads? Let us know in the comments section below.

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