Salads can be much more than just an unobtrusive side dish. A couple of books that have recently crossed my desk show how they can take a starring role on the table.
In her simply titled Salad Book, published by Penguin, Belinda Jeffery comes up with creative combinations such as White bean tuna and radish salad with gorgeous gloopy green dressing; Frizzled egg, sprout, avocado and feta breakfast salad; and Barbecued Sweetcorn with freekah, chilli and coriander.
She also includes some stunning fruit salads such as Dragon fruit, peach and lychee compote, with brown sugar yoghurt; and Fig, lychee and raspberry salad with homemade vanilla bean icecream.
Always on the lookout for new and surprising ways to bring seasonal flavours and textures together, Jeffery’s trademark love of good food prepared simply is evident in all her recipes. These are dishes that you want to cook over and over again.
London restaurateur Katie Caldesi says she has always been drawn to salads. “I like the crunch of fresh vegetables, lively colourful leaves and punchy dressings,” she says in the introduction to Around the World in Salads, published by Kyle Books.
“Salad is fresh, it is rich in nutrients and usually, though not exclusively, low in sugar and often gluten-free.”
Around the world in salads
Co-authored with her husband Giancarlo, Around the World in Salads travels to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Far East and beyond in dishes such as Greek lemon chicken, grain and feta salad; Mexican beef salad; Vietnamese roasted duck with five-spice fruit salad; and the Sri Lankan dish featured here.
The combination of sweet coconut rice and sour dried fruits in honey is heavenly comfort food on a cold day. For the dried fruits you can use apricots, mango, pears, sultanas, dates, cherries or cranberries.
Perfect after a hot Sri Lankan curry, Kiribath can also be left to cool and cut into squares and eaten with mango puree and fresh fruits or simply on its own with a cup of coffee.
As the authors of these lovely cookbooks show, salads are more than just a summer dish. Nevertheless, with summer just around the corner it seems timely to be adding these to the collection.
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KIRIBATH WITH PEAR, CASHEW AND APRICOT SALAD
125g basmati rice or Asian red rice
6 dried apricots
4 dried pear halves
50g cashews or pistachios
4 Medjool dates, pitted
400ml coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons raw mild honey or maple syrup (for a vegan option), plus 2 tablespoons for serving
Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Soak the apricots, pears and nuts in hot water from a kettle for 20 minutes, while you prepare the dried fruit salad.
Cut the dates into 5mm pieces and put into a bowl, if they are very sticky do this with a wet knife.
Remove the fruit and nuts from the water and cut the fruits into 5mm pieces and add to the dates.
Drain the rice and put into a pan with 300ml of water and cook, according to the packet instructions, until it is just done, then add the coconut milk a little at a time until you achieve a pourable consistency and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, adding the vanilla and honey or maple syrup to taste.
Remove from the heat and pour into small glasses to serve. Top with the dried fruit pieces and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Serve straight away.
Recipe and images from Around the World in Salads, by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, published by Kyle Books and reproduced with the permission of Simon & Schuster.
This story originally appeared in PS News online.