A Summer of Salads – January

When I read about Vegplotting’s 52 week salad challenge, the aim of which is to harvest or forage some salad leaves to eat every week of the year, I have to say I smugly thought no problem.  Then I looked round my garden and realised that almost all my lettuces were about to bolt.  And its this that I find the biggest difficulty growing salad leaves in Melbourne; the need to ensure sufficient succession plantings to cover all the plants that bolt during summer.  You’ll have a lovely looking lettuce and then all of a sudden it will be reaching for the skies.

 I find the easiest way to overcome this problem is to sow lettuce/salad mix seeds in seed trays once a month and then when they are ready pot them up into 10cm pots.  That way I tend to always have something decent sized plants to replace the bolting ones.

I planted out this tray of 15 plants last week and ever since have spent much energy trying to keep the blackbirds from kicking mulch all over their leaves.  They are really annoying at the moment, if they’re not kicking mulch all over the seedlings, they’re digging up the carrot seeds or eating the tomatoes.

Blackbirds aside this year has been good for salad leaves so far, my ongoing inability to grow iceberg lettuce notwithstanding all the varieties seem to be doing well.  So far this year I have been harvesting sorrel, mizuna, oakleaf, salad bowl, Cos and a range of lettuces that were simply called Lettuce Mix on the seed packet.

 

To compliment the salad leaves I have a good range of herbs, the following are currently of a harvest-able size: parsley, garlic chives, spring onions, mint, Vietnamese mint, perilla, Thai basil, basil, sage, tarragon, chervil, oregano, thyme, and lemongrass.

My aim in this 52 week salad challenge is not only to eat salad leaves each week (at the moment I’m eating them from the garden pretty much every day) but to come up with a dish each month in which salad leaves are an integral ingredient.  This week its a Chorizo, Haloumi & Potato salad which on the face of it doesn’t sound very leafy but the leaves sit beneath the salad mitigating the saltiness of the dish and cutting through its richness to ensure it remains fresh and delicious.

Potato, Haloumi & Chorizo on a bed of Salad leaves

  • 150g salad leaves
  • 500g salad potatoes (I used Kipfler)
  • 250g haloumi sliced into 3/4cm thick slices
  • 1 chorizo sausage (enough to give 4 people a few bits each) slice into serving pieces.
  • 50g mixed herbs (I used spring onion, parsley, basil and chervil but any soft herbs would be nice) finely chopped
  • juice of half lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra olive oil for frying the chorizo & haloumi.
  • salt & pepper

Boil the potatoes whole with skins on.  While they are cooking prepare the dressing by mixing together the herbs, lemon juice & olive oil.  Season the dressing with salt & pepper.  Set aside 1/4 of the dressing and put 3/4 of it into a large bowl. Once the potatoes are cooked let them cool enough to be able to handle them and then slice in bite size pieces and immediately place them into the bowl with dressing.  Mix to coat all the pieces.

Thinly coat the bottom of a frypan with olive oil.  Once it is hot add the chorizo and fry on each side until it browns.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.  Add the haloumi, fry on each side until they are a golden brown.  Remove from pan.

To assemble the salad: place the salad leaves onto the plate, dress with a sprinkle of the reserved dressing.  place the potato salad, haloumi & chorizo on top.  Serve.

I particularly like this salad served with my Beetroot & Date Chutney, the sweetness of the chutney really compliments the saltiness of the haloumi in particular.

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18 Responses to A Summer of Salads – January

  1. Lrong says:

    Absolutely lovely looking greens… this is a difficult act for me to follow… :)

  2. Norma Chang says:

    Excellent idea, lining the plate with salad greens is not only attarctive but also a great way to get more greens in our diet.

    • Liz says:

      I’m really trying to eat a lot more greens this year and I think they actually work really well with warm ingredients.

  3. Robin says:

    I really need to work on regular sowings of lettuce this year. I always forget to sow some when the garden gets busy. Then we are without lettuce!

    Love your salad idea and recipe!

    • Liz says:

      I do like the salad too – especially as except for the potatoes the other bits can be cooked on the BBQ which is nice in the hot weather.

  4. Mark Willis says:

    In a way I’m glad it’s not just me that has problems with Blackbirds. At certain times of the year they are an absolute menace.
    I like the look of the spotty lettuce. I wonder if it is the one called “Freckles”?

    • Liz says:

      It came in packet of “salad mix” so I’m not sure of the variety but it is beautiful isn’t it. I have built some cages to keep the blackbirds off parts of the garden but you can’t cage everything. We have a family of two adults and about 6 juveniles which regularly visit – very, very annoying!

  5. Anna says:

    Good luck with the salad challenge Liz. You have a glorious medley of leaves there. The salad looks and sounds delicious ~ will try to remember to try it out come the summer which seems a long way off just now. Those blackbirds cause the same damage wherever they are on the planet :)

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Anna, They are really annoying birds! I wonder why anyone would have brought them here – they aren’t native to Australia afterall.

  6. Becky says:

    I could never do it every week here. We just plain get too hot in the summer but I would love to try growing more salad stuff.

  7. kitsapFG says:

    You are inspiring me to redouble my efforts at having really beautiful salad fixins all through the year. I tend to go in spurts with lettuces etc. and have periods of time where they are not very plentiful or missing altogether. I have no one to blame but myself as it is very doable to have them every week for the entire year in my location with justy some simple protection taken in the winter months. Just laziness on my part to keep the constant new crops coming.

    • Liz says:

      I have exactly the same problem, having said that the potting shed does offer a respite from my preschoolers (the potting shed is at their grandparents place and they are very lovely childminders…) and I do find that works wonderfully in terms of motivation….

  8. Lilian says:

    Thank you for letting me know that you sow the seeds once a month. I’ve been trying to work out how to get some system going so that we don’t have a trough in production after harvest… I will keep that monthly sow in mind… maybe even put it down to the 1st of each month…

    • Liz says:

      I usually sow every fourth week – i do my sowing and potting up at my mum & dads and visit weekly which creates a nice easy schedule to stick to.

  9. Does it count if you pick salad leaves from the spare bedroom?

  10. Wonderful looking salad!
    And I learned a new word -Haloumi.
    I bought lettuce seeds and am eager to start as soon as weather permits!
    Have a great week-end!
    Lea
    Lea’s Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

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