Wednesday, 23 January 2013

You Don't Break Friends With Salad

I know, I know, our New Food Resolutions were not about health or fitness but lofty culinary goals, to eat artichokes, minimize food waste, use the gadgets we already have. But that's not to say that a few of us here at the Market didn't set our own goals to eat more vegetables, exercise frequently and in one stellar case, give up smoking after a 20 year habit.

And by and large, we've been pretty good. One of us now cycles to work, another has taken up pilates at Lifecare Prahran Market Pilates (upstairs, above Market Square). The former smoker has been haunting the biscuit tin but is holding strong as I write.

But easily the resolution we've all been able to keep has been about eating more vegetables. With summer's bounty, it comes easy at this time of year and vegetables, either raw, or lightly cooked, have been tossed together with grains and some hearty protein (none of us went vegan) to see us through the working day.

The clear winner has been this Puy Lentil and Freekeh Salad.  On some days, more than half of our staff brought it in for lunch.  A solid, earthy salad, it lasts for several days in the fridge and had even the sworn meat-eater in my family popping home for "just a bit of that salad".  We've all spun our own variations on it, but here's mine:

Puy Lentil and Freekeh Salad

1 cup freekeh (available at the Essential Ingredient)
1 cup puy lentils
200g Persian fetta
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 red onion
1/2 cup green sultanas (available at 53 Degrees East)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1- 2 tablespoons lemon oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Cook freekeh and lentils separately, until just firm. Drain and mix together in serving dish. Season with salt and pepper and pour lemon oil over the freekeh mixture while warm.

Soak sultanas in red wine vinegar. Roughly chop parsley and feta. Finely dice red onion.

Add other ingredients to freekeh mixture, mix gently, season and serve.

Other options for these summer days are the ever-popular Thai salad Som Tum. My life became immensely easier after buying a papaya shredder for a few dollars from Lee's Asian Grocery. You can also substitute green mango for the papaya if you prefer a more zingy salad.

Louise Harper is our Blanco Kitchen chef and she whipped up some beautiful salads last week. The Hot and Sour Pineapple Salad is excellent with fish or chicken grilled on the barbeque. And her Mango Salsa is just what you need for those days when you buy a $10 tray of mangoes from Cheong's Fruit & Vegetables.

If you are too lazy or busy (perhaps you should think hard about your New Food Resolutions) then see Munira at Beangreen Vegetarian Cafe for a spicy chickpea salad. Or pop into Pino's Fine Produce for a selection from their salad bar. They produce four beautiful salads and a queue often forms by 11am.

Pino's Fine Produce Salad Bar

And if you're in need of inspiration, stroll through the Essential Ingredient's book section. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's bestsellers Plenty and Jerusalem offer many leafy recipes that will leave you satisfied for hours. And possibly then you can tackle that artichoke!


  1. Oh yummity, yum, yum I LOVE salad! Lentil salad, roasted beetroot salad, pumpkin salad - All salad... Thanks for the gorgeous recipe. I love these posts.