Take the simplest of summer ingredients for a carrot coriander cress salad and a great looking summer meal. Then get back to me and we’ll cook some more!
But there’s the question, isn’t it? What do we really mean when I say ‘simple’ ingredients? What is simple to me could be exotic to you: peppercorns
were regularly traded as currency and historically were more valuable than gold! Am I trying to say a ‘summer meal’ is different to a ‘winter meal’ or just that there’s less of it…? This could become complicated, but really doesn’t need to be:
Cress, coriander, carrot, lime, flax or olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds… (a little summer sunshine also helps a little)
How do we get those long strips – we can’t cut like that? Is it a ‘dry’ salad – isn’t there any dressing? What are the proportions – how many carrots? Isn’t it too bland -can I add some cheese or mayo for ‘flavour’? Is this a ‘raw’ salad? I can’t eat that – where’s the meat? Can I have some more?
These are some of the questions I was asked at a local demo class a short while ago. You see, one thing is just throwing a few ingredients together and hope it’ll work out fine. Another thing totally is to be able to grab a few simple summer ingredients, combine then in both an attractive AND tasty way, and believe that some of the class will be intrigued enough to try and make it again.
Even better, adapt it, to their own ingredients, tastes, lifestyles. So a quick snack like this, which took less than fifteen minutes for all of us to put together, could make a great little lunch, a starter, a picnic or even a basis for a family meal.
I tried to answer some of the questions:
for the longer strips you can use a basic peeler, one of those speed peeler things for potatoes are ideal; it’s not a ‘dry’ salad – you can add a few drops of flax oil and a squeeze of lime juice, don’t have flax oil? use olive oil instead; how many carrots – you can add as many carrots as you like, the more the merrier; if you can’t resist cheese – you can add something like feta, or even a blob of yoghurt (or mayo if you can’t live without it!); yes, I suppose you can call it a raw salad, but it’s just a salad – and completely refreshing; for the meat eater – try it without, you might even like it; for those who want some more, take what you want, but eat what you take…
As I answered, I thought carefully about what I wanted to say, trying hard to offer some guidelines but not a strict list of weights and measures, or confusing terms and ingredients. A lot of people I’ve met are enthusiastic to begin with, but once complicated lists are produced, accurate weights and precise ingredients, well, that’s where the newfound enthusiasm starts to wane, not matter how much they want to try and give it a go. So for the most part, many of the recipes I like to try become less an exercise in perfection, and more an adventure in visual appeal, flavour, experiment, freshness, enjoyment and, of course, taste.
(Don’t confuse this with pastry, though – that’s an entirely a different matter!)