Green in judgment
Try giving salad pride of place on your table
Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
If music be the food of love Watercress salad with cherry tomatoes and ranch dressing
“My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood,” goes the famous line in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”. With that one stroke, salads became associated in literature with everything young and foolish. But I beg to differ with the legendary Egyptian queen. I love my greens, and I am proud to say my salad days are likely to continue well into my old age.
Salad greens come in the category of live food and give us nature’s best in its natural form. Salad should not just be a small part of our daily meal but the main part. Pizzas and pastas may be tempting all right, but what can rival the vibrant colours and tangy taste of a crisp, fresh salad? I love my salad any time of the year, but especially when the kitchen garden sports a row of lush green baby lettuce with hues ranging from dark to pale green, and sometimes a glowing copper.
The nice thing about a salad is, you can make it as simple as you like. In summer, dress it lightly and garnish with a flourish of herbs, and you have a dish fit for royalty. In winter, there is the option of iceberg lettuce, eternally crisp and my personal favourite.
Across the world, we can find traditional salad recipes. With world cuisine gaining popularity everywhere, these traditional salads are increasingly crossing boundaries and finding favour, both with the health conscious and the taste hunters. Dishes from West Asia and the Mediterranean region, like tabbouleh (bulgur wheat with lemon and parsley), humus with olives (made of chickpea paste and olive oil), fatoush, tsatsiki (a cooling mixture of cucumbers and yoghurt) are familiar to us, not to mention the fruit, cactus, bean and corn salad from the Latin countries and American specialities like coleslaw and Caesar salad. The simple salade verte (literally, green salad) from France is made of soft mild lettuce varieties like Boston or butter lettuce and dressed with vinaigrette and mustard.
If salads are given prime importance in every cuisine, it is partly thanks to the reservoir of nutrients in them. Lettuce is a good source of vitamins A, B, C and E. High in chlorophyll, it is one of those veggies that contain less than three per cent carbohydrates and are good for diabetes. The points in its favour don’t end there. Its iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous content get easily absorbed by the system.
Curly endive, butterhead lettuce, escarole, watercress, dandelion greens and Romaine lettuce are a few varieties. Here is a recipe for a salad using watercress and cherry tomatoes. A simple recipe, it looks great on the table and in these days of health consciousness, will be a hit with guests.
Watercress salad with ranch dressing
500 gms watercress (alternatively you can use iceberg lettuce which is more commonly available throughout the year)
Few cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
For the sauce:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1tbsp fresh chopped chives
1tbsp chopped flat parsley
1tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Put the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise and all the spices into a blender and churn for a few seconds.
Empty into a glass bowl. The dressing is now ready.
Arrange the watercress in a glass bowl, add the cherry tomatoes and a few thin cucumber slices.
Drizzle some of the dressing over the salad and retain the dressing for future use.
(The author is MD, Moti Mahal Tandoori Trail chain of restaurants. He can be emailed at email@example.com)
Send this article to Friends by