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super salads

If you think about how much Australian cuisine has changed since the 50’s it is possible to wonder why restaurant salads and salad entrées are generally so terribly boring. The green or garden salad for instance is probably worse than the 50’s because now it comes made with really horrid tasteless hydroponic lettuce and in most instances suspect dressings. Pre made dressings in the hands of an apprentice or a chef who doesn’t really care are fraught with danger and inevitably result in an inconsistent result, which is either too oily or too acidic. Then there is appropriate seasoning, yes the magical and, so often forgotten salt and pepper. Good salt and good pepper are as important as good olive oils and if you’re using it decent garlic. The whole point is start with crappy ingredients and you end up with a crappy salad.

What could be more delicious and KIS KIF than the simplest of all salads, tomato, basil, bocconcini, salt, pepper and your very best olive oil? And……yet it is ruined by most restaurants because they take the tomatoes and bocconcini straight from the fridge and fridge cold the bocconcini transformed into tasteless rubber with some cold red texture, meaning the tomato and if the basil is hydroponic it doesn’t have any taste anyway.

A pet hate of mine is commercial Tahina with its disgusting rancid vegetable oil and a persistent flavour that no longer has any resemblance to the aromatic flavour of freshly roasted sesame seeds. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are one of the oldest ingredients still used in modern cooking and rarely shown at their very best. The greatest tell tale is sesame oil opened for months, probably years, completely rancid, completely vile. Even a professional cook will struggle to use more than a couple of hundred mils a month, so buy a small bottle, keep it in the fridge like you should with other nut oils that should also be purchased in small quantities and tasted before you pour. Left at ambient room temperatures we have found the shelf life in some instances less than three months……in other words always taste before you pour! AO 21 January 2011

Roasted Sesame Seeds

1kg raw sesame seeds

Pre heat oven to 160°C
Put the seeds into a deep baking dish as large as your oven will hold. Every 15 minutes toss over the seeds pushing the edges into the centre and continue cooking until they are golden brown.
If you are going to store them allow to cool standing on a rack, then either vac them (preferred) or pack into food storage containers, date and refrigerate. Always reheat at the same temperature before using them to refresh them and allow the full sesame flavour aroma.

Tahina
Makes about 750g
A MyCook or Thermomix or Blend-it will take 1kg sesame seeds if you have a normal domestic blender make the Tahina in batches or maybe if you don’t use a lot a half batch would suit

500g still warm roasted sesame seeds
50g fresh strained lemon juice
20g Maldon sea salt
3g white pepper, freshly and finely ground
about 200 to 250 mils of your best EV

Method
Put the sesame seeds, salt and pepper into the blender and puree them as much as possible. Add the lemon juice and then with the motor running add the oil until you have the right consistency. Pack into clean glass jars and store in the fridge.

Tip

  • We keep it fairly thick because we frequently use it for salad dressings and will be adding extra olive oil and some acid most usually in the form of lemon juice or sometimes some white balsamic.
  • We don’t add garlic unless we are going to use the full recipe immediately and then we always add roasted garlic rather than raw garlic.

Chick Pea and Vegetable Salad with Tahina Dressing
Serves about 8 and best as an entrée

This divine salad come about by literally opening up the fridge and taking out what was there. Onions came from the garden, I keep cooked 4 Leaf Organics chick peas in 500g vac packs in the freezer so handy to make a batch of hommos, put them in a salad or add them to a meat dish right at the end. The eggs as one can see in the pictures were organic and farm fresh, produce purchased at the Rockford Cellar door that is brought down on a daily basis. The whole point is, have some imagination, get the combos right and go for it.

for the dressing
100g fresh thick Tahina
50g roasted garlic
100g your best EV olive oil
50g fresh strained lemon juice
50g Leonardi Oro Nobile Balsamic Bianco
Maldon sea salt
White pepper freshly ground

Method
Whisk everything but the salt and pepper together, add a small mount of salt and pepper.

Our Salad Components
1kg fresh beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks, rolled through our best EV, seasoned with Maldon and freshly ground black pepper and roasted at 200°C for about 30 minutes – just long enough to remove the rawness but leave a little crunch
500g cooked weight chickpeas — we use 4 Leaf Organic
20 immature red onions, cleaned, split in half, rolled through EV olive oil, seasoned and roasted for about 15 minutes with the beetroot
500g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
5 spring onions, finely shredded and curled for 30 minutes in ice water, drained and dried as much as possible on paper towel
500g peas, podded and blanched in boiling salted water for 2 minutes and refreshed in ice water
handful parsley flowers and fennel top (or other similar herbs e.g.; mint and dill) chopped
1 bundle tea noodles cooked in boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until just tender and refreshed in ice water
6-8 hard boiled eggs cut into quarters

Method
Put the dressing into the bottom of your serving bowl and add everything except the herbs and hard boiled eggs. Using your hands very gently mix everything together. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, scatter the herbs over the top and then strategically place the hard boiled eggs.

Other salads we adore
Fresh Mozzarella with tomato and basil
Watermelon and Feta

Keep the faith KIS KIF keep it simple keep it fresh!

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver
food-editor@galaxyguides.com

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer
kaaren.palmer@galaxyguides.com

Contibutors

Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.