Friday 31 October 2008

Green Spring Salads

Spring in Melbourne is a wonderful time. I don’t say this lightly, having lived long enough in Edinburgh to realise that a Scottish spring is as dour as a Melbourne winter and by the end of Summer everyone is still waiting for some real hot weather. But in Melbourne, we really appreciate the sunny days of Spring and the green buds on the plants because we know that by the end of a scorching Summer, it will be a miracle if the plants are still alive.

The warm weather and seasonal green vegetables make it a perfect time for salads. Asparagus, broadbeans (fava beans) and fresh peas beckon from the fruit and vegetable displays. Who can resist the cheerful hopeful green colours! Not me. We’ve eaten a lot of salads lately. I thought I would share a few here.

The first salad is Cindy’s Green on Green Salad. I made it because I had broad beans in the fridge and was not sure what to do with them. I had actually intended to use them in Spring Risotto Soup after Lysy responded to my previous doubts with the suggestion of cooking them in a risotto. But I didn’t have the energy for the double podding when I made the soup. Strangely I found it quite relaxing to pod fresh peas which I used to do with my mum but I just couldn’t face the broad beans.

I then saw Cindy’s salad and made it the next night. E must have seen me podding th peas the previously night and when he saw me podding the broadbeans he asked if they had been exposed to radiation before he realised they weren’t peas. I had thought the salad might be like the broad bean pesto I made recently. But it was much better. Lighter with the lemon and herb flavours starring. Not substantial enough to serve alone but wonderful with some bean burgers and fried smoked tofu, tomato and onion.

Green on green salad
(adapted from Stonesoup via Where’s the Beef?)
Serves 2 as a side

½ cup broad beans (about 60-70g when double podded – 300 – 400g when in pods)
½ cup frozen peas (or fresh if possible)
1 handful rocket
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1 small handful mint
1 small handful parsley
Juice and zest of ½ a medium lemon
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil

(Double pod broad beans by podding and then soaking in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and podding again.) Lightly steam broad beans in microwave for about 30 seconds. Steam peas in microwave for 1 minute.

Place garlic, mint, parsley, lemon juice and zest, salt, olive oil and two thirds of the peas and beans into food processor and blitz til roughly chopped. (Cindy suggested doing it with a mortar and pestle but I found out that mine is just too small for such jobs.)

Place rocket and the remaining third of the broad beans and peas into salad bowl and add herb mixture. You have the option of serving with the herb mixture artistically placed over the vegies or mixing it all up.

The next salad came from a page I had torn out of the The Age Sunday Life Magazine. It was called Asparagus with tomato, baby rocket and preserved lemon but I renamed it Asparagus, Capsicum and Rocket Salad because I didn’t have tomatoes when I made it. I was tempted by the recipe because it offered a way to use preserved lemons. I served it with spaghetti and roasted tomato sauce. It was a really tasty salad with lots of interesting flavours.

Asparagus, capsicum and rocket salad
(adapted from The Age Sunday Life Magazine – similar to this one)
Serves 2 as side

1 bunch asparagus (approx 200g), trimmed and chopped
1 capsicum, sliced thinly
1 handful rocket
4 semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
¾ tsp seeded mustard
2-3 tbsp sun-dried tomato olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp cumin powder
1 pinch cayenne powder
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Cook asparagus for 1 minute in microwave and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Mix with the remaining ingredients.

Finally I recently made a favourite salad of mine. I had thought I was planning a quiche and suddenly looked at the ingredients in my trolley at the supermarket and realised that I was going to make a version of Peasant Potato Salad. This is a recipe I found soon after I became vegetarian. Even then I was keen for recipe alternatives with lots of vegetables.

I find this recipe odd because it has such large quantities – I always imagine it is intended for a large Tuscan family meal outdoors but I never recorded where I found the recipe so I couldn’t say for sure. I have made it quite a few times and always change it. I have never made the dressing with the egg yolk in it nor with the quantities of the actual recipe, but I have included the cooked zucchini in the salad on occasion which is also excellent. This salad is a complete meal. We ate it accompanied by a slice of good sourdough bread.

Peasant potato salad
(Source not recorded in my notebook)
Serves 2 as a main meal

400g potatoes (about 6 small), halved
1 bunch asparagus ( about 200g), trimmed and chopped
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
½ capsicum, thinly sliced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
5 semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
8-9 kalamata olives, halved
5 large basil leaves, torn

2 dessertspoons of yoghurt
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato olive oil
1 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Juice of half a lime
½ tsp seeded mustard
Pinch salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Boil potatoes in a medium saucepan for about 20 minutes or til soft. Place in a medium salad bowl with remaining salad ingredients. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over salad ingredients. Mix together and serve.

On the stereo:
The Civil War: Matmos


  1. They all sound fantastic! I love the idea of green on green, but the colors of the rocket, peppers, and asparagus are just gorgeous. And who can resist a good potato salad?

    The greens of spring are encouraging wherever you live, I think, though I had no idea the plants wouldn't last through your summer! (Hope Zinc is feeling better :) ).

  2. Everything looks wonderful. It's definitely NOT Spring here in Halifax, but a girl can dream!

    I'm definitely bookmarking this recipe for later. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mmm that green on green salad looks incredible (we've been eating a lot of salads too lately, mine have been far less creative however!).

    I hope Zinc is feeling a little better!

  4. thanks Ricki - the colours are indeed gorgeous. Plants dont necessarily die but they do need to be carefully watered to last the summer which is not easy in our land of drought and water restrictions. Yes, Zinc is better but wants to play in the sun!

    thanks Ruth - salad help being a little of spring into the kitchen!

    thanks Vegetation - yes zinc is feeling better, thanks! Glad you are enjoying some salads too!

  5. Wow, you have been busy! I'm quite envious of all your lovely spring-like salads, and I'm glad you found a good use for the broad beans

  6. I love reading about your warmer-weather foods, just as we're descending into the dark days of late fall here in NY state. It's a reminder that spring will surely come... even if I am just a wee bit jealous.

  7. They all look lovely, Johanna! Naturally I'm particularly happy that the green-on-green one served the broad beans to your satisfaction. :-)

  8. thanks Lysy - am still hoping to try broad beans in risotto some time!

    thanks Amanda - it is lovely now but I know it will get so hot I wont want to turn on the the oven - that is when I wish for some nice cold weather

    thanks Cindy - loved the green on green salad - gave me a new appreciation for broad beans :-)


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