It’s summer and so we eat salad. Yes, we eat it but often without enthusiasm. Carnivores often consider salad as the green stuff left on the plate after the meal is finished, and those of us who eat everything get heartily sick of more lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
This particular book is Scandinavian and therefore has a slightly different approach to salad. Those from the northernmost part of Europe are famed for big spreads of magnificent salad. Perhaps it’s those long winter nights that encourage cravings for colour, fresh tastes and interesting textures. The Danish authors, Sonja Bock and Tina Scheftelowitz, provide salads for every season.
A quick flick through these pages and you’ll consider salad in a different light. There are ingredients here that I would never have considered as salad contenders. Sprouts for example. Not bean but Brussels! I am not a lover of the BS and I blame Christmas. Mum, always a good manager, would start boiling sprouts in a timely fashion (probably in early December) to have them cooked by Christmas. This has left me with the impression that Brussels sprouts are almost liquid and always beige. Best Salads Ever has them as key salad ingredients and suggests a quick boil of just 5 minutes is sufficient to give a crunchy and fresh-tasting vegetable. Brussels Sprouts with Red Salad Onion and Feta is a triumph of texture and tang. There is a dressing of Balsamic vinegar and olive oil which adds a richness to this simple dish.
Salads don’t have to be purely vegetarian. Chinese Duck Breast Salad has plenty of punchy spice but it’s tempered with crisp cucumber and sugar snap peas. Lots of black pepper and rice vinegar help to spike the flavour. This would make a very smart starter or part of an Asian meal.
The Dips and Salsas chapter offers quick fixes when you only have a few veggies and some bread, or want a sauce to go with fish or meat. Creative Creams and Brilliant Dressings suggests lots of flavoursome and sophisticated lubricants for your salads. Everything from Lovely summery Raspberry Vinaigrette to Chinese Sweet and Sour Dressing which will work equally well with noodles and fish.
Best Salads Ever has advice for individual meals but it’s unique in that it has menus for buffets. We are not talking curly ham sarnies nor bake-from-frozen nasty sausage rolls. This is smart and light food with enough variety to please even the fussiest of eaters. It’s the easiest of casual entertaining.
Arabic Buffet has meatballs with Middle Eastern-inspired vegetable salads and pita bread (there are recipes for every menu item in this book, including bread and dessert), His and Hers Buffets with either gutsy blokey meat and potato salads or light and fluffy salmon and goats cheese dishes because women have naturally more appreciative palates. There are Asian Buffets, Mediterranean Buffets, as well as one for each season. It’s so easy to throw a bash with food that is balanced, easy to make and stunning.
Best Salads Ever is a striking volume with food that is honestly delicious and different. The salads are easy to mix and match for your perfect combination and summer is the time to start practising. This isn’t just a cookbook it’s about stress-free entertaining at any time. I’d say this is one of the best salad books around.
Best Salads Ever
Authors: Sonja Bock and Tina Scheftelowitz
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018