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.