Salads are so varied and so versatile. The main thing however, is managing to keep the leaves crisp and fresh so there’s a bite to it, and making sure the dressing is not too runny or insipid. In summer, when everything is hot including the water from the taps and filters, you should wash the leaves with cold water from the fridge. If you wash with warm water, the leaves will wilt and die immediately. This is experience speaking.
I always first soak the leaves in water with some salt added to it for about 10 minutes then rinse it with fresh water. Then shake off all the water from the leaves and keep them in the fridge if you’re doing this in advance. Assemble the salad when ready to serve and only put the dressing on it at the last minute else the leaves will wilt due to the moisture.
It hardly takes any time and the dressing in the bottle is a very handy trick I learned from watching Jamie Oliver’s shows! You can use any apple. I used Golden apples from the northern Indian state of Himachal. They have a wonderful texture and the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Use any cheese. can even go with cubes of cheddar, though feta as well as parmesan work very well. Ok now, enough rambling, will get on with it!
Ingredients (serves one if this is all you’re eating)
20 gms pine nuts
60 gms rocket leaves
Half an apple diced into 1cm cubes
¼ medium purple onion diced finely
10 gms dried cranberries cut in half
Shavings of parmesan cheese (can also use feta cheese)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp himalayan pink salt (put less if using table salt)
⅕ tsp cracked black pepper
- Dry roast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat and keep shaking them till the aroma wafts up and the start releasing a bit of oil. Remove immediately and set aside on another plate to cool. Do not let them burn.
- Wash the rocket leaves nicely and remove the moisture from them. Tear the leaves, if very large, into bite sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.
- Add the diced apple, onion and cranberries to the rocket leaves.
- In a small glass bottle, add all the ingredients for the dressing and shake well till it all mixes together nicely.
- Pour the dressing over the rocket mix and toss with two forks nicely till the dressing coats every leaf nicely. You can try putting less of the dressing into the salad at first and see if you need more. Don’t have to throw it all in at once.
- Now arrange the salad leaves on a serving plate or dish and sprinkle the pine nuts over it.
- If you’re using a block of parmesan cheese, use a cheese slicer or a vegetable peeler to peel wafer thin strips and arrange them over the salad. If you’re using feta cheese, crumble the cheese over the top, or cut in squares and place all over the top.
- Serve immediately.
Important Notes: Salad leaves, once the dressing has been added, wilt very soon after due to the oil and moisture. If using tomatoes and cucumber in salads, the salt tends to draw out all the moisture from them and they become soggy and inedible if kept for too long. So serve and eat immediately.