Cooking

Seasonal Salad

10:50 AM

Winter in India means more green leafy veggies on the market, and for the past few years that also means lettuce leaves.
When I moved here in 2003 there wasn’t any, and one thing you should know about the Swiss is that we are a salad happy bunch, we eat a side salad with our meals, a big tossed salad is often considered a lunch in Summer. We have iceberg lettuce as a favourite in Spring and Summer, and darker bitterer leaves in the Winter (some I suspect belonging to the same family as methi). DH often joked that people must be part bunny or goat in Switzerland judging by the size of the salad counter in most canteen and restaurant, if that says something about our fresh leafy green obsession there.
So with that in mind imagine how though that was for me to go without in India, what people call salad in India is a few slice of tomato and cucumber on a plate, in Switzerland that would be an appetizer course served with a dip, not a salad.
Fortunately for me, variety came in the supermarkets over the year, and I can’t tell you how happy I was the first time I saw a few leaves of iceberg lettuce sold in cellophane in my local supermarket, I could have stumbled upon the holy grail and it would not have been any different. Back then it was a few leaves, but now if you go to a nice enough supermarket or gourmet store in a big city you will find more : curly leaves lettuce, iceberg, oak leaves…And as I stated last year sharing my aloo methi salad, methi leaves are awesome eaten raw too.
This week I found a big fresh plump oak leaf lettuce and here is what I made with it the first day:


DSC02535

A strawberry, tomato and walnut salad. Because in India not only are the lettuce leaves in season in Winter, so are the Strawberries, and let me tell you the combination above tastes great, I used to put apple and pear bits in my salads back home, why not try with strawberries? I just made a dressing with one table spoon rice vinegar and 2 table spoons olive oil, added some salad seasoning herbs and drizzled it all over the salad. That bowl made two big fat serving of salad, one I called lunch, one I ate for dinner along with some grilled chicken. The rest of the week I made another salad with apple chunks and what’s left of the lettuce is still in the fridge with some walnuts, I ate some last night to go with my version of sausage and beans known as “cassoulet” back home (DH loved it).
And one of the thing that is so great about Winter in South India is that winters are quite mild, which means days are still warm enough to enjoy calling a salad a lunch, in Switzerland it becomes a side dish as soon as the mercury starts dropping and the hours of sunlight shrink.

6 comments

  1. Summer5:41 PM

    I know exactly how you feel - coming from California, we are spoiled in the way of fresh produce, and I was so disheartened, ordering salad after salad of "green salad" and getting slices of carrot. Dry old carrot. And then one day I ordered a Caesar, and was shocked to find about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise!

    Anyway - I have also noticed better availability of lettuce and celery and it's certainly made my home cooking and eating experiences much better.

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  2. Supriya Kulkarni6:41 AM

    This looks great :) I want to try making the methi salad one too. I love methi and aloo.. !!! Btw an American of mine invented "Paneer enchiladas and fajitas " It was so yummy!

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  3. That does sounds yummy indeed. The aloo methi salad is a great one, because I am happy eating green leaves, it's filling and my daughter who finds greens repulsive pluc them out and eat the potatoes :-)

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  4. Mayo in a ceasar salad? I have never seen that one. I'm really not that much a fan of mayo in the first place, I put about a table spoon in a big bowl of pasta salad but that must be the only place I use some.

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  5. We have extra large salad bars here in the US too. We love our salads. The one you made in the picture sounds great. My favorite restaurant sells a similar salad and it is so good. I missed salads in Amritsar. They were starting to get lettuce but it was not fresh looking and the celery was tiny (about 1/4 the size of a normal stalk here in the US).

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  6. yeah the not so fresh looking lettuce thing was wat we used to get in the begining when they started selling them in Bangalore, I don;t think I ever noticed celery, but I am not big on it so that's probably why :-) What I also love is that cherry tomatoes are now available at a reasonable price, they taste great and make such a great munchy snack in front of TV :-) To me they bring back memories of my going into my grand ma's vegetable patch in the Summer and eat them off the plant.

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