Top 5 – Salads to eat on Australia Day

This Thursday is Australia Day.   Embarrassingly I came to write this post and I couldn’t remember what it actually commemorates.  I thought it was the anniversary of Federation but no, it is actually the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney cove and the British proclamation of sovereignty over the Eastern part of what is now known as Australia.  The day is also called Invasion day by members of the indigenous community amongst others which actually makes a lot more sense now that I know what Australia Day is actually celebrating.

What makes Australia Day special to me though (and I suspect I may not be alone in this) is that it is a public holiday, in summer.  To me that means one thing:  Barbeques!  What does one take to a barbeque (other than meat that is)?  Salad.  So to celebrate Australia/Invasion Day this week’s Top 5 had to be salads, salads to eat on the Day.  Which is actually quite convenient because Vegplotting has launched a 52 week salad challenge and I felt it only appropriate that I join in.

1. Tabouleh

The onion harvest is in, the tomatoes are ripening, the new sowing of parsley is ready to harvest from, there are still lemons about and the mint is happily growing away.  There is probably no better time of the year to make Tabouleh.  And frankly how could anyone not want to make Tabouleh, today, tomorrow and certainly on Australia Day.

2. Beetroot & Feta

Green Dragonette has written a couple of posts recently about her memories of school dinners.  In Australia school dinners are very rare, what we have instead is Tuck Shops.  They are in pretty much every school, and pretty much every tuck shop has salad sandwiches on the menu (or they did in the 80s anyway).  Salad sandwiches at my school were almost always filled with: tomato, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, alafalfa and beetroot.  The presence of beetroot in these sandwiches, and also in pretty much any burger with the lot I’ve ever seen, means I’ve always viewed beetroot as a quintessentially Australian ingredient.  It is said that Melbourne is second only to Athens in terms of numbers of people with Greek heritage living in it, equally there are large communities of people with Turkish and Middle Eastern heritage who are an intrinsic part of Australia life.  So what could be better to team with the beetroot but a cheese which is hugely popular in the lands of their forefathers?

3. Pumpkin & Quinoa

When Australia plays sport at an international level they wear Green & Gold.  This salad has flecks of both so you could certainly eat it for that reason.  But I would eat it because of the pumpkin.  I don’t think there is anywhere on earth that eats more pumpkin in savoury dishes than Australia.  If we’re not making salads from it, we’re roasting it, if we’re not roasting it we’re making soup, if we’re not making soup then its scones, if its not scones its gnocchi and so on, and on, and on.  I used to have a theory that pumpkin is the reason why Australian’s are, on average, taller than the Brits – it has some sort of growth enhancing properties and if the Brits started eating Pumpkin they too could be taller.  This theory is of extremely dubious merit but I do quite like it.

4. Tomato Salad

I have cheated a bit in this post using recipes that I’d already posted.  But I haven’t posted a tomato salad before so here goes:  I am a bit of a purist when it comes to a good tomato salad.  I favour a fairly basic approach.  Cut the tomatoes into whatever shapes you fancy.  I tend to cut up the little ones and slice the big ones.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside for about 30 minutes.  Then dress with a really nice extra virgin olive oil (Australian of course – it is for Australia Day after all) and some torn basil leaves.  Serve.  The best thing to eat in the whole world and I think very appropriate for Australia day.  It pays homage to both our kitchen gardens and the huge contribution that people with Italian heritage, in particular, have made to our culinary history.  It is also very seasonal and best of all it tastes like summer so absolutely perfect.

5.  Potato Salad with Smoked Trout & Salsa Verde dressing

Potato Salad with Smoked Trout & Salsa Verde dressing

And finally what I think I will make on Australia Day.  Anyone who has read my Monday Harvest posts will be aware that I have a lot of potatoes at the moment.  In this I’m sure I can’t be alone.  What better to do with them than add some Smoked Trout, dress it with Salsa Verde and then head off to that Barbeque.

Note: It is hugely remiss of me not to include an Asian salad in this list.  Australia is geographically, after all, part of Asia (or Australiasia at least) and a great many Australian’s have Asian heritage.  Equally the contribution that Asia has made to modern Australian dining is huge.  With that in mind any Asian inspired salad would be wonderful to eat on Australia Day – its just that I haven’t posted any yet nor indeed made one to photograph this week so……cop-out I know but there you go.  I pledge to make, document and photograph an Asian (and by Asian I am talking predominantly about South-East Asia & China as those countries have had the biggest influence over Australian cuisine) salad in the next couple of weeks.

What would also be remiss of me would be to end this post without highlighting The New Goodlife’s wonderful Top 5 from last week: Favourite New Ingredients.  I’m off to buy some blueberries as per recommendations from my Top 5 Plants in Pots last week.

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33 Responses to Top 5 – Salads to eat on Australia Day

  1. L says:

    Yum, Yum Yum, Yum Yum! Actually I’m a bit dubious about the pumpkin and quinoa, but I might try it anyway because I trust you.

    Tonight I made your eggplant masala – you can see my write up on my blog here:
    So glad you’re getting the blueberries!

    • Liz says:

      The pumpkin & quinoa is an absolute winner – everyone I know loves it. Its interesting because its not particularly pumpkiny – in fact I reckon if you didn’t know you’d be hard pressed to say what it was but somehow it just works.

  2. Liz your Beetroot and Feta salad is now firmly placed in my top 5 salads too. Also on my list would be a warm potato and bacon salad passed down from Mum, a roast pumpkin, baby spinach and avocado salad, a lamb and green bean salad, and a chicken Caesar salad.

    In winter we often have soup for dinner on a Sunday night, in summer that’s replaced by a salad as a meal in itself.

    Great topic by the way, I’ll be doing mine now – a parent-related list.

    • Liz says:

      Yay – glad you like the beetroot & feta. I went to a friends place for pizza the other night and one of the other guests brought a spinach and roast pumpkin salad which was wonderful – the green and gold thing would work well too. Looking forward to your Top 5.

  3. Salads look lovely but it’s soup weather here at the moment. As for school dinners nowadays many children also take packed lunches to school here. When I first started teaching they all stayed for a cooked cooked meal but gradually the packed lunches crept in. OK if the packed lunch is nutritional but when it was a couple of packets of biscuits and a chocolate bar picked up from the shop en rote to school – not good!

    • Liz says:

      We’ve always been a packed lunch culture – when I was at school that pretty much meant everyone had sandwiches: vegemite, ham, cheese or salad being the most common. It will be interesting to see what the kids take now (my daughter starts school next week). I remember a lot of publicity around the quality of school food when I was in Britain and I will be interested to see if it differs.

  4. Mark Willis says:

    A great post, Liz. Especially on account of the history / cultural heritage aspects. I’m amazed that salad sanwiches including beetroot were as popular with schoolchildren as you say. Here in the UK I reckon that 90%+ of all children would turn up their noses at beetroot.
    One the Asian theme… Luke Nguyen is getting lots of TV air-time here. We love him – he has a great personality as well as having a huge love of his Vietnameses culinary heritage.
    BTW: have you seen the Salads Page on my blog??

    • Liz says:

      I do like Luke Nguyen too – he has an interesting cookbook/family history book called Secrets of the Red Lantern (I think Red Lantern was the name of his restaurant at the time but its in Sydney so I’m not completely sure) which is worth of look if your interested in the Vietnamese experience in Australia. His sister writes the family history parts and he supplies a number of the recipes. I have to say I really missed Vietnamese food when I was in the UK – it is pretty easy to come by in Melbourne but far less so in London. Same for Malaysian food. I have to admit I’d not noticed the salad tab on your blog – lovely – I will have to give it a good peruse when I get a moment.

  5. Lrong says:

    So that’s how ‘Tabouleh’ is spelt… is this originally Middle Eastern? Anyway, all the salads look so tempting…

    • Liz says:

      Tabouleh is from the Syria/Lebanon part of the Middle East and I suspect there are a number of different ways of translating the name from Arabic – I use this one but I’ve seen a few others.

  6. Norma Chang says:

    What a mouth watering collection of dishes, all look so yummy especially that tomato salad.

  7. Mike says:

    Wow, such absolutely wonderful salads…I don’t think I could choose a favorite if I had to.

  8. Is the salad cooked first or grated raw? I know that some varieties are supposed to be adequate even good raw but I thought they were mostly summer squash varieties eaten young. I was intrigued by this salad though they all looked lovely.

  9. leduesorelle says:

    A mouth-watering Top 5 indeed! We’re far from salad weather but the pumpkin one might fit — is it grated and served raw?

    • Liz says:

      Theres a link to recipe if you click on the title, but yes to grated and no to raw – its cooked along with onion for a shortish period and then added to the cooked quinoa.

  10. Hi Liz, just loved the post! Really interesting to hear about the history of the day and your salads look absolutely delicious! I might have a go with that Pumpkin and Quinoa one first. Funny how two blogs I looked at this evening both have recipes for Quinoa. Must mean it’s time that I got that old packet down from the top shelf in the cupboard where it has been lurking and get cooking…
    And thank you indeed for the mention about my posts on School Dinners. I love the idea of all those salad sandwiches complete with beetroot being sold in your Tuck shops!

    • Liz says:

      It may be quite different now – kids today may well protest when greeted with a slightly soggy mash of veg inside two slices of cardboard bread (I suspect I would if I had my time again.) or perhaps they make them to order now – my oldest is about to start school so I’m about to find out.

  11. Must make your pumpkin and quinoa salad. I bought quinoa ages ago but haven’t used it since the initial try – which wasn’t a hit.
    Can’t go wrong with a simple tomato and basil salad.
    Don’t forget a green bean salad. That’s my current fav – green beans with olives and marinated feta.

    • Liz says:

      Oooh green bean salad – yum, in fact any summer veg teamed with olives is pretty good. I do highly recommend the pumpkin and quinoa salad – it is really nice.

  12. Prairie Cat says:

    They all look delicious!

    Although, if I am being honest, I know that I would never go near that tomato salad, despite how pretty it is… I just do not like the texture of raw tomatoes!

    • Liz says:

      Funnily enough neither does my partner. He is fine with them cooked but I think its something about the seeds that he struggles with.

  13. kallie says:

    The first and second are my favs! xx Who knew Australia had such yummy salads?

    • Liz says:

      You know I like the first and second too – tabouleh is one of my favourite foods to eat – anywhere any time – I just love it.

  14. Diana says:

    Refreshing. Very appetising in this summer heat when ones don’t have much energy to do anything.

  15. KL says:

    By Jove, these salads are so yummmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy…..please reserve a seat for me on your table. I am going to try to make all of those.

  16. Leanne says:

    I love tomatoes and basil, but have never made it, thanks for the recipe, I will have to have a go at it now.

  17. Mel says:

    All of these look so lovely, it makes me sad that I had to come home to the Northern Hemishpere all over again.

    I could try that pumpkin salad, though. It is a seasonal winter salad for us

  18. VP says:

    When summer finally arrives in the UK, I shall be returning to this post for lots of inspiration 🙂

    Hope you had a great Australia Day and thanks for joining in with the challenge and helping to make it so much fun!

  19. Dave says:

    I’m late to the party, so to speak, but those salads look yummy! I never would have thought of combining smoked fish and potatoes, but in my mind I can almost taste it.

    And I love your theory about pumpkin consumption and growth!

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