Family Recipes: 10 Bountiful, Nourishing Salads

Warm Duck Salad with Crackly-Topped Beetroot
Warm Duck Salad with Crackly-Topped Beetroot 
There's a warm berg wind in Cape Town today, and jasmine is sweetly blooming outside my bedroom window, a reminder that spring is on its way. (Not that I'm anywhere close to whipping out my frilly bathing suit: Cape springs are notoriously tardy, with plenty of false starts lasting well into late October.)

Still, salad season beckons, and I can't wait. I'm a bit fed up with gloopy winter stews and soups, or any recipe described as 'hearty' or 'comforting' or 'fall-off-the-bone'.

What I really fancy is something cold and astringent, with a lively snap. A platter of crunchy radishes with salty butter, for example, or shaved fennel with apple slices.

However, as salads of this sort would cause mutiny in the ranks, I've spent some time recently making salads that are both hot and cold, and that are topped with a variety of toothsome ingredients guaranteed to pacify the hungriest teenager.

My Gado-Gado, Warm Niçoise Salad, Moroccan-Spiced Carrot Salad and North African Chicken & Couscous Salad  (all pictured below, with links) tick all the boxes for nourishing family meals: packed with flavour, full of nourishment and very easy to put together.

Multi-tiered salads crammed with interesting goodies aren't all that popular these days, in an age where trusty old iceberg lettuce has been elbowed off the shelves by bags of wild rocket, prissy little micro-herbs, and the like.

Not that I have anything against designer leaves, but I wish recipe writers and food stylists would pay more attention to how a salad tastes and sustains you, and less to how it looks scattered all over a ghastly black slate roof tile.

Here's what I said on the topic of complicated salads in the introduction to the salad chapter in my book:
'There is something to be said for the extravaganzas that were so popular when salads came of age during the health-food revolution of the late Seventies and early Eighties. When I was a teen, a salad was a square meal, a veritable salmagundi of dozens of ingredients: all the usual crunchy greens, plus cubed cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds, sprouts, peas, mushrooms, carrots, tomato wedges, tuna, olives, onion rings, boiled potatoes, and so on. And if that wasn’t enough, the whole thing was topped off with croutons, crumbled bacon, parsley, chives, super-garlicky vinaigrettes and splodges of homemade mayonnaise.
 'It’s easy to poke fun at this sort of over-eager salad now, but I remain a fan of composite salads, those generous meals-in-one that you can dish up in gigantic portions to a hungry crowd. They’re versatile, abundant and fresh, and there’s something in them for everyone.' 
Here are 10 of my favourite substantial salads, and you'll find many more on my blog index.

Low-Carb Green Bean, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad with Basil Oil
Low-Carb Green Bean, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad with Basil Oil

North African Chicken & Couscous 'Everything' Salad
North African Chicken & Couscous 'Everything' Salad.

Moroccan-Spiced Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Mint & Almonds
Moroccan-Spiced Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Mint & Almonds. This salad has been a hit on Pinterest, and I can only imagine that's because there are so few carrot salads recipes floating around. 

Pea and Pea Shoot Salad with Bacon & Eggs

Gado-Gado: hot & cold salad with a spicy peanut sauce

Hot & Cold Winter Salad Niçoise
Hot & Cold Winter Salad Niçoise

Warm New-Potato Salad with Bacon and Mustard Greens

Coronation Chicken and New-Potato Salad

Salad of Shaved Baby Fennel, Apple and Smoked Mackerel

Cauliflower Salad with Crisp-Fried Chorizo Sausage

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