Food for thought: Fresh and Fabulous Salad
Take Stock’s very own Victor Meldrew, David Jackson, reflects on his salad days…
I’ve just had an enjoyable evening with business colleagues at a Brazilian restaurant. The conversation was engaging, wine flowed, and copious amounts of meat were both served and eaten.
The one element of the evening’s entertainment that was really disappointing was the salad. Green and vegetable-looking, yes. But also totally bereft of taste and substance – not to mention eye appeal.
And that got me thinking about how often I’ve had a really good salad whilst eating out. Sadly, the answer is, not nearly often enough.
This prompted me to take a closer look at what’s out there. Plastic bagged and gassed rocket at an astronomic price, pre-washed greenery and carrots from halfway around the world, sliced and diced. Hardly inspiring! Whilst an out-of-season salad may not be the easiest to maintain, or be top of your customer’s requests, whether you serve a complimentary side-salad or one as a main course, the same amount of care should be given to it as everything else which leaves the kitchen. And that’s especially true now summer’s here and demand for healthy menu options is at its peak.
One solution to ‘tasteless’ salad vegetables would be to buy organic. Now, I do accept that in the past anything vaguely organic typically came with a price tag to make the eyes water, but that is no longer the case. Demand for organic and other taste-filled vegetables brought a whole raft of producers into the marketplace – and they’re still there. Most (if not all) are more than willing to sit down and agree a supply arrangement with you. What’s more, you’ll also get inspiration for new menu ideas – using seasonal vegetables that truly taste of something. And, if you make a song and dance about the fact you’re using fresh, local ingredients, you’ll probably find you’re suddenly getting in fresh, local customers!
Now, I maybe a salad snob, but I know what I like. Salads with a dressing of say olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar are delicious, and one of my favourites is fresh leaves topped by crumbled goats cheese, carpaccio of beetroot and walnuts. Delicious, interesting – and simple.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for salads to be fresh and fabulous. So chefs, hop to it! After all, we’re not rabbits.