About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Salad Wars
It comes as no surprise that recipes follow the changing seasons as seasonal produce comes into its own, but have you also noticed that diets also follow the seasons with about right now being the height of dieting season before summer hits with its distinct lack of clothes? There is no hiding from the truth at this time of year.

This all came to mind as my wife D said that she/we are starting a diet this week. Now I'm all for eating healthy, delicious food, but D's repertoire of salads is, shall we say, a bit limited and becomes boring after a bit, which is the dieters worst enemy, for then you start to look for foods which have a bit of excitement and danger, anathema to the diet.

We had this very discussion the other night when complaining that I was buying interesting vegetables such as okra, artichokes, broadbeans et al and somehow they became 'my' vegetables that D refused to cook with. D ended the conversation with, "Well, show me what you can do." Anyone that once called themselves tankeduptaco on their blog is hardly going to shy away from a call to arms such as this and so the next night surveyed the fridge for ingredients that D was comfortable working with. The first thing I spied was asparagus, then a red pepper came into view along with a cos lettuce left over from a previous Caesar salad for which I'm still searching for Ortiz anchovies, so that I won't be the last person in the world to try them.

Out came the mandoline and I sliced the asparagus thinly and also the red pepper. The asparagus was then blanched for two minutes and immediately cooled then mixed with the red pepper and shredded lettuce. You have to believe me dear reader when I say that some toasted, blanched almonds were going in as well, only I couldn't find them anywhere, vanished they had, and if I did have some fine black olives, a few of them would have been sliced into the salad as well. The whole lot was then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a little seasoning. Even without the extras, D pronounced it very tasty.

The next night D fired her shot across my bow. She had been previously to her sisters and gathered an unfair advantage in fresh from the garden, parsley and dill. Those readers who grow their own herbs will know that nothing you can buy has the intense flavours of herbs straight from the garden. The mandoline was dragged out again as D shredded some lettuce and cucumber and threw in some finely chopped dill and parsley. As we ate the salad, D asked me to identify what was in it, meaning there was some sneaky ingredient. I picked all the aforementioned but there was some elusive flavour, a little bit like onion, so I plumped for spring (green) onion, but no, that wasn't it. I wasn't far wrong, for it came from the onion family, D had shredded a leek and very good it was in the salad.

You've got to love a war where everybody wins.
  posted at 8:40 am

At 10:22 am, Blogger Jessica said...

A healthy eating diet or a weight loss diet?

I started a weight loss diet a few weeks ago and have managed to stick it out despite loving food (the fattier, saltier and spicier the better! Emphasis on 'fattier'.)

I adore salad, but i find there can be a lot of hidden fat (yes, olive oil, i'm looking at you! which i love) used to make it tasty. Now, i'd never give up properly dressed delicious salad in a million years, i just have to modify it slightly.

Anyway, I've found that protein is the dieters friend. You can do so much with fish and legumes and not get bored.

I like the idea of thinly sliced and blanched asparagus! I'm going to try it in a salad.

At 3:14 pm, Blogger Ed Charles said...

You can pick Ortix up at Prahran market, from the Cheese Shop for 14.74 - $1 cheaper than others. I've been meaning to join this debate for a while and am planning a taste test this weekend with the $2.75 variety.

At 5:19 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi jessica, I think D wants it to be both, fish and legumes, both a favourite sound the way to go. Just be careful if you cut the asparagus on a mandoline, I was very careful with it, otherwise just cut them in half for the same effect.

Hi ed, thanks for the tip, don't be too slow with your taste test, otherwise I might steal your thunder!

At 9:26 am, Blogger Reb said...

Diet? It's week four of good food month and no such thing could possible enter my head, with at least another three lunches and the food and wine fair this weekend. Perish the thought. Go the anchovy challenge, Ed! Can't wait for both your comparison tests.

At 2:16 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, the fish duel cometh. Touched by Rammers hey, he knows quality when he sees it!


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