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SALADS FOR SEPTEMBER

Leafy greens – the primary ingredient of salads, do more than just laying a foundation for the remaining mix-ins. In fact, they are a powerful punch of nutrients all on their own

Imagine a simple salad with feta, mint and cumin-lime dressing or a spicy Moroccan carrot salad – perhaps a lentil salad with tomatoes, zucchini, and simple lettuce leaves.

September eans quick and refreshing salads that will cool your palate as well as senses. Thai's make the most wonderful salads and their dressings always combine delicious sweet, sour and salty elements but continental cuisine also boasts of a litany of lush salads for summer.

In the Capital, one of the finest salad spreads can be savoured at the Imperial Hotel's '1911' restaurant. One look at them is good to know that the most effective way of cooling down this summer is found in salads that take advantage of dripping ripe fruit – like watermelon, papaya and or golden fleshed cantaloupe melon – thoroughly chilled and tossed with sour and subtle dressings.

Chefs often include fruit in main-course salads. Chilled watermelon, mango or papaya are first choices. The trick is to make sure the fruit is ripe and to marry it with ingredients that are either a careful mixture of textures is just as important as a marriage of flavours.

Salads mean different things to different people. Chef Prem K Pogakula, Executive Chef, The Imperial gives us a salad that is bursting with flavour. 'Yogurt tahini and pomegranate with lemon roast vegetables'.

Chef Pogakula believes that chosen leafy greens do more than just laying a foundation for your remaining mix-ins. In fact, leafy greens pack a powerful punch of nutrients all on their own. "Although each type of leafy green offers different health benefits, they're all low in calories and packed with fibre – which means you have fewer calories. Dark green lettuce, kale, and spinach are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, while bok choy and mustard greens also provide many of the B vitamins," she says.

Chef says that salad lovers can make their own oil-based salad dressings with power herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, dill, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and lemon. They can be mixed with a healthy oil, lemon juice or vinegar. "This healthy salad includes arugula, basil, thyme, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and sunflower seeds. Adding fresh herbs goes a long way toward improving your nutrition, as many are densely packed with vitamins," adds Chef.

When asked about how tastes and quality of ingredients have changed over the years.

Chef says people are more aware now and more experiments are happening in the food sector to facilitate tastes because in today's world a lot of customers are widely travelled. On the Imperial Buffet/Brunch menu the most popular salads are the 'Caesar salad' – made with baby gem lettuce, the tuna nicoise, and 'Greek salads'.

"A salad is one of the simplest side dishes you can make, but it can be bland or overdressed or the leaves wilted," says Chef.

Making salads at home just needs a few follow-ups. "Choose varieties that will hold up well in a salad, such as romaine, iceberg, Bibb, Boston, endive, radicchio, kale, or go for a combination. It's critical to start with dry salad greens because any extra moisture will make your salad get soggy faster."

Instead of sticking to one part vinegar-to-three parts oil formula that most salad dressing recipes call for, use a higher ratio of vinegar for more bite. Add Dijon mustard which creates an emulsification that helps the dressing cling to the greens, a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper, a little sugar, honey, or maple syrup for balance and if you like spices or fresh

herbs, add that too. The more flavourful the dressing is, the less you need to use and thus the less weight on your lettuce for it to be soggy. Whisk your ingredients together and then whisk in a flavourful olive oil.

Lastly, choosing the right bowl is important. It should be large, wide, and shallow – tossing the greens should be light so that they are not bruised and finished a minute just before serving.


Yogurt tahini and pomegranate with lemon roast vegetables

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 aubergine diced

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 lemon , ¼ finely chopped -skin the rest juiced

1 tbsp rapeseed oil plus extra to drizzle

400g boiled chickpeas

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp natural bio yogurt

seeds from ½ a pomegranate

chopped parsley

Method

Heat oven to 240 C Put the vegetables and chopped lemon in a large flameproof roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. mix into the veg so they are all well coated, then put the pan on the flame and fry, stirring, for 5 mins until starting to char. Stir in two handfuls of the chickpeas, and roast in the oven for 15 mins. Put the rest of the chickpeas in a bowl with the garlic, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice and 3 tbsp water, and blend with a stick blender until really smooth and thick. Spoon the yogurt tahini onto two plates and top with the roasted veg, pomegranate seeds and parsley. Season with black pepper and a drizzle of extra oil, if you like.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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