Three things get tricky for me every winter:
One – It gets dark quickly and I find there’s only a very small window to go for a walk or run after work while still feeling safe and warm enough;
Two – I don’t drink enough water. So far, I’ve been trying to combat this with big teapots of fresh lemon, ginger and hot water; and
Three – I’m not particularly inspired to eat salad.
On number three, I think the secret is to use ingredients that are in season and to eat them at room temperature. Salads with tomato taste horrible because, well, tomatoes taste pretty horrible right now and who wants to eat something cold, tasteless and unripe? This salad mixes bitter but beautifully purple radicchio, crunchy sweet/tart apples and earthy walnuts. I took it along to my bookclub potluck dinner this weekend on a very cold night and it felt just right.
RADICCHIO, APPLE & WALNUT SALAD
12-15 LEAVES OF RADICCHIO
2 GREEN APPLES
3 STALKS CELERY
3-4 SPRIGS LOVAGE (OPTIONAL, I LIKE THE CELERY-LIKE FLAVOUR)
3/4 CUP FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
3/4 CUP WALNUTS
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL
1 DESSERTSPOON LEMON JUICE
1 TEASPOON HONEY (OR MAPLE OR AGAVE SYRUP)
1 TEASPOON FRENCH WHOLEGRAIN MUSTARD (YES, I KNOW THIS ISN’T RAW, BUT IT’S WORTH ADDING)
1/2 TEASPOON SEA SALT
A FEW GRINDS OF BLACK PEPPER
Roll three or four radicchio leaves up tightly into a roll at a time and finely slice. Finely slice the green apples (I used my food processor), I like to leave the skin on. Finely slice the celery and mix in a bowl with the lovage, parsley and walnuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the honey is mixed in smoothly. Stir through the dressing just before serving.
The first time I ate this salad was around ten years ago on holiday with a then-boyfriend’s family – his Dad and step-Mum both happened to be ridiculously good cooks – in beautiful Eagle Bay. Ever since, I’ve referred to it in my mind as The Summer Holiday Salad. They had theirs with only cabbage, onion, capsicum and tuna and freshly baked bread with butter. They always put some ‘plain’ salad aside for me, but I’ve never considered it plain. It’s simple, sure, but comforting and I always feel virtuously healthy eating it.
The raw cabbage contains thiamin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and not many calories, and the capsicum has super high levels of vitamin C plus vitamin A, vitamin E and folate. Adding the parsley gives you more of vitamins C and A, folate and a huge dose of vitamin K. Start making this salad a few hours before you’d like to eat it as the textures and flavours get better with a little time.
1/2 RED CAPSICUM
1 STALK OF CELERY
1/8 RED ONION
1/2 CUP KALAMATA OLIVES
1 CUP FLAT LEAF PARSLEY, CHOPPED
1/2 TEASPOON SALT FLAKES
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL
2 TEASPOONS LEMON JUICE
I remember being told the secret to this salad was that it was an exercise in texture. The key to making it taste especially good is to make sure everything is sliced as thinly as possible. I use my food processor with a slicing attachment which does the trick but you could use a very sharp knife.
Thinly, thinly slice the cabbage, capsicum, celery and red onion into a bowl. Add in the chopped parsley and olives, sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the olive oil and lemon juice until combined and stir through the salad. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the cabbage soften, and then bring it to room temperature before serving.