Long time readers will know I have a family of disparate eaters. One child loves any type of onion and potato, and is quite open to chili; he does however have an egg intolerance and finds salad greens unpleasant, but he’s pretty good with cooked greens. The youngest child will eat fresh crunchy salad and fresh fruit forever, even tomatoes as long as they are very small. Do NOT attempt to feed him anything the least bit spicy, or oniony, or gravy covered or something with a sauce, unless it’s garlic sauce, or somehow involves bacon. Actually, don’t put sauce on bacon, you’ll break his little heart. My eldest darling appreciates almost all types of food, thanks to early childhood deli conditioning; somewhere along the way, though, she has developed a dislike of meat on the bone, so forget chicken wings. Sucking the marrow from Osso Bucco is destined to be a treasured childhood memory of shared delight that I clutch tearfully to my heart. Oddly, all three of them adore oysters, but sadly I can’t serve that every night.
All of this explains why my instagram feed features my dinner table, groaning with various dishes. I love cooking, but sometimes it’s a pain in the arse to try and please everyone. On those nights I make Spaghetti Bolognaise! Or even a salad with offensive components (olives, spring onions, chilies, pickled radishes, red onion) in a separate bowl, so everyone can customize their own plate. Generally it’s both a pleasure, and a challenge to cook different dishes to appease different palates. The eldest has grown up moved out, but is still a welcome and frequent visitor to the dinner table; together with her boyfriend, who comes with his own set of likes and dislikes!
Here are some salads I cooked recently, in an effort to make everyone happy. Actually it wasn’t that much effort, and everyone was pretty happy, which made me happy.
- 1 Cos lettuce: washed, dried and chopped.
- About 4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
- About 2 cups of garlic croutons
- 1 loaf of stale sourdough
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
First, make the croutons. Using a bread knife, cut the loaf of sourdough into slices about 2cm wide. Cut those slices into strips, then cut the strips across so that the whole loaf is cubed. I don’t cut the crusts off, although you can if you like. To be honest, sometimes I’ll just use stale baguette or french stick if sourdough is not in the offering.
Put the bread cubes, oil and garlic in a large bowl and stir well, add more oil if it seems to dry.
Place some baking paper on a baking tray, place the seasoned bread in the tray and bake in a hot oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so until all sides are toasted brown. Let cool.
At this point you will have a lot more than 2 cups, extras will keep in a plastic container or zip bag in the pantry for a week or so, or even the freezer if you are happy to re crisp them in the oven before using. I find the most important thing when storing these croutons is to hide them, because everyone seems to snack on them.
Place the lettuce in a salad bowl.
Fry the bacon until crispy, then pour the bacon and some of it’s grease onto the lettuce. I know, but FLAVOUR.
Top with croutons and serve.
- 3 or 4 of the reddest, ripest tomatoes you can find. The caterpillars have eaten almost every tomato in our garden, so I used vine ripened from the supermarket, and let them sit in a bowl on the bench for a few days to really sweeten up and develop a proper, non cardboard texture.
- Fresh basil. This I picked from the garden. It’s so easy to grow, and is at it’s best picked a few minutes before eating.
- Mozzarella Cheese.
- Sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Slice the tomatoes thickly, and arrange in a serving dish.
Slice the mozzarella thinly, and place a slice between each slice of tomato.
Place a perfect basil leaf between the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, sprinkle with sea salt.
Haloumi and Fritter Salad
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 tin of drained corn kernels, or 2 cobs worth of fresh off the cob
- small handful of chopped mint
- 3 + 1 chopped spring onions
- approx 1 cup of plain flour
- approx half a cup of milk
- 1 large bunch of kale
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 small packet of haloumi, sliced
Mix a teaspoon of salt through the zucchini, set aside in a colander for at least 30 minutes, to allow the salt to draw the moisture out.
Wash and dry the kale, tear into bite sized pieces, discard the stalk. Saute in a glug of olive oil until wilted but not overcooked, season with sea salt and set aside.
Squeeze the zucchini with your hands to get as much moisture out as possible, then combine in a bowl with the corn, 3 spring onions, mint, flour and milk. Add more milk or flour as needed until the fritter batter is quite thick. Heat a large frypan with a small glug of olive oil, drop tablespoons of the batter into the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Set aside onto a plate lined with paper towels.
When you have finished cooking the fritters, wipe the frypan out with some paper towel and fry the sliced haloumi until golden on both sides. At this point you might like to reheat the kale by sauteing it for a few minutes.
Assembly – place the kale on a serving plate or bowl, top with fritters, then haloumi, and lastly the single chopped green onion. Next time I will add some sliced red onion and maybe drizzle some herb dressing over the top.
This dish was inspired (but not at all sponsored) by the Chow House restaurant in Brisbane, which is completely amazing. Tell them I said Hi if you drop in!
So there you have three salads for three very different palates! Can you guess which salad was for which child?