Spring has sprung and with it our little patio garden of tender lettuces and aromatic herbs. Though it's too early yet for tomatoes and other summer crops we're thoroughly enjoying plucking our homegrown greens to put into tasty salads.
By whatever methods you acquire your produce you're sure to find edible inspiration in Kat Mead's new cookbook BIG SALADS. Her inventive recipes go beyond the modest dinner salad and instead take center-stage as her title appropriately claims. BIG SALADS features 60 delicious, fresh, and healthy recipes that make the most of seasonal ingredients with options to eat vegetarian and vegan or to use meat and fish. Mead's recipes pop with flavor, texture, and color along with showstopping dressings to tie it all together.
The chapters are broken down by season with recipes covering brunch, lunch, dinner for everyday meals as well as special days. Noteworthy recipes from each chapter include:
Pea, Asparagus, Eggs, and Lemon Labneh
Grilled Romaine Chicken Caesar with Avocado
Sweet and Sour Rice Noodles with Edamame and Cabbage
Seared Beef and Pineapple Rice with Chilli (served in pineapple halves!)
Peanut and Sticky Chilli Chicken Rice Noodles
End of Summer Tomato Salad with Roasted Feta and Pinenuts
Balsamic Fig and Baked Goat Cheese Salad with Hemp Hearts
Warm Pear, Mushroom, and Ricotta Salad
Freekeh and Chickpea Salad with Pulled Harissa Lamb
Cauliflower and Puy Lentils with Tahini and Turmeric
Shredded Dick, Roast Root Veg, Kale and Spiced Orange
The following Roast Chickpeas & Peppers with Warm Chilli Tahini recipe is one I've been making on busy weeknights as it goes from oven to table in under 30 minutes. Though it's from the Winter chapter, it can be served any time of year warm or at room temperature.
ROAST CHICKPEAS & PEPPERS WITH WARM CHILLI TAHINI (VG)
"This is a delightful one-tray salad, which goes from oven to table, so it is super-simple to make – and wash up! As it’s a warm salad with hearty flavours and a little heat I think this makes it perfect, veggie-packed comfort food." ~Kat Mead
1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 orange (bell) pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 yellow (bell) pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
2 red onions, peeled, chopped into chunks
700g (1lb 9oz) jar of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed (about 540g/1lb 3oz total drained weight)
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, peeled and lightly bashed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes (crushed chilli)
100g (3 ½ oz) baby leaf spinach
40g (1 ½ oz) rocket (arugula)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CHILLI AND TAHINI DRESSING
2 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp light olive oil
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
handful of dill leaves
chilli flakes (crushed chilli)
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan/375ºF/gas mark 5. Put the peppers, onions, chickpeas and garlic in a roasting dish that you can take straight to the table. Add the olive oil, paprika, oregano and chilli and some seasoning. Toss everything together.
Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove, turn everything over and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a low heat. Whisk to bring it together while it gently heats through. I like my dressing relatively thick so 3 tablespoons of water is usually enough for me, but if you like it thinner, add more, another teaspoon at a time.
When the veg is all deliciously squashy with some crispy edges, remove from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then stir in the spinach and rocket leaves. Drizzle over some of the dressing and serve the rest on the side. Garnish with some fresh herbs and an extra sprinkle of chilli flakes.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Big Salads by Kat Mead, published by Quadrille March 2019, RRP $24.99 vinyl paperback. Photography by Catherine Frawley.