The days may not be quite so long and languorous, but there’s a salad for every season. autumn is a wonderful time to create a salad bowl using warm ingredients on a slightly deeper base, with a flavourful dressing and lots of toppings.
A good salad is all about the right combinations, both in taste and texture. Late summer is always a wonderful time for fermentations and pickles; these work wonderfully in combination with textured food like fruits, soft creamy cheese, and crunchy or crisp toppings like cracker shards or croutons.
Spice is also a fabulous ingredient to add to autumn salads; try mixing ingredients or dressings with chillies, paprika, harissa and other ﬁery ﬂavours.
Creating your Autumn salad
Start with a base of mixed seasonal greens, grains or cooked or roasted vegetables; for example raw spinach, kale, red cabbage, cooked pumpkin and kūmara, roasted tomatoes or capsicum.
Top with a protein; for example chicken, beef, venison, salmon, spiced tofu and roasted chickpeas.
Next comes your dressing. Dressings fall into three basic types: creamy, zesty and spicy. A spicy dressing works beautifully with pumpkin and kūmara, while a creamy dressing is wonderful with crunchy greens, Caesar salad, and roasted vegetables such as spiced cauliﬂower.
Finish your salad with something textured like crunchy nuts, seeds or crumbles.
Garnish with herbs, edible ﬂowers or sprinkles to elevate your salad masterpiece.
Take your salads to the next level by adding one or two unexpected ﬁnishing touches. This helps balance out texture, so add something crunchy to a salad with soft ingredients like avocado, or burrata. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime to freshen up earthy or heavy ﬂavours and a sprinkle of nuts & seeds will add nutritional benefit and interest.
Parmesan shards – sprinkle an even layer of ﬁnely grated parmesan on a lined baking tray and cook until golden, allow to set then break into shards.
Salted caramel bark - Sauté nuts chopped or whole with a pinch of salt and lick of oil until toasted then add a swirl of sweet chilli sauce, maple or honey and allow to caramelise, cool before crumbling.
Toasted seed mix – Toast a selection of seeds on a lined oven tray with a sprinkle of sea salt and spices like paprika or turmeric, garlic ﬂakes or chilli ﬂakes.
Chippy Crunch: Croutons, broken packet chips and crumbled nacho chips all create great texture. Remember to serve last so they don’t go soggy.
Serve salads on large platters for a little drama or pre-portion into glass jars or individual dishes or use lettuce cups/baked wraps/ﬁlo or wonton wrappers baskets to avoid waste.
For groups or parties wanting a more fun, interactive service, offer up some deconstructed ingredients for your guests to make their own salads.
If using seeds in salads, dry fry them first to bring out the flavour. Ingredients like pumpkin seeds take on a new lease of life when dry-fried; pop a few in a heavy-duty pan and mix often, taking them off the heat when they start to pop.
If you'd like some exciting salad recipe inspiration click here!