3 exciting side salads for winter

Spinach and jerusalem artichoke salad - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

A few years ago I decided it was time to eat more veggies. One way of doing it has stayed with me ever since: A fresh salad with dinner. Every day. (Almost.)

Like so many others, I used to eat a lot of pasta, fried meat, rice – that sort of thing. Without too many other things on the side. Because that’s what they were, the veggies. “The other things on the side”. There was usually some – you know, 5-a-day and all that. But it wasn’t the part of dinner I was looking forward to.

At some point I decided it was time to eat more veggies. Not over night – that’s not how I do things. But I started learning a few more things about veggies. How could I make them a little more exciting than steamed carrots and broccoli? The process is still ongoing, but I dare say I’ve come pretty far. And how I look upon a meal has been turned upside down – more often than not, the meat or fish is the side, or afterthought. “The other things” are regularly the star of the meal, where the flavour is.

Rocket and vegetable salad with pomegranate molasses - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

One of the first tricks I started with is perhaps the easiest and fastest. I simply introduced a fresh salad. Just about every time I made dinner, at least if the meal otherwise didn’t contain too many veggies. Years on, I’m still doing it. Perhaps not every day – I do eat a lot of veggies in other ways, these days. But probably more often than not.

3 exciting side salads perfect for winter: Spinach & jerusalem artichoke, carrot & turnip and rocket & vegetables / A kitchen in Istanbul
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It sounds simple. And it is. But it also invites some challenges in terms of introducing variety, especially in winter when the selection of salad vegetables which actually taste of something is rather limited. Where in summer I can eat a chopped salad of tomato and cucumber every day, the same salad is completely flavourless in winter and therefore a no-go as far as I’m concerned. So what to do?

Fortunately, there is plenty of good winter produce. Below are three variations of my staple salads during winter. Each of them can be put together in minutes, while the rest of dinner is bubbling away on the stove or in the oven. With the exception of the first salad, I always make these with whatever is available and without measuring. I simply take a look to see what’s in the fridge and take it from there. Almost anything goes, to be honest. I almost never make a proper dressing – for these salads a squeeze of something acidic and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil more than does the trick. As with virtually all fresh salads, these are best enjoyed immediately after making. Each recipe yields a small bowl, enough for two or three alongside dinner.

Spinach & jerusalem artichoke salad

Spinach and jerusalem artichoke salad - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

A perhaps unexpected but all the more delicious combination, which is heavily inspired by a salad of the same name in Moro: The cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 200 g spinach
  • 200 g jerusalem artichoke
  • 2 ts sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

My method

Rinse and drain the spinach well. Cut into strips (keep whole if using baby spinach). Peel the jerusalem artichokes and, using your sharpest knife, a mandoline or the slicer element of a box grater, cut into very thin slices. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, making sure to separate the slices of jerusalem artichoke as best you can, and serve immediately.

Shredded salad with carrot & turnip

Shredded salad with carrot and turnip - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Shredded carrot is a staple side for fish cakes in my home country Norway, but with a couple of extra ingredients it becomes both more exciting and more versatile.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, curley-leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro) (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • salt and pepper

My method

Peel and shred the carrots and turnip using a coarse grater. Mix with the fresh herbs (if you have any), lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning to taste. Top with pomegranate seeds, if you happen to have some. Serve immediately.

Variations

Use whatever fresh herbs you have available – a little rocket (aragula) also works well. You can also use radish or beetroot in place of the turnip – or omit it and just use the carrot. If you have a few cherry tomatoes lying around, chop roughly and add them to this salad, adjusting the amount of lemon juice if need be (tomatoes tend to be more sour in winter).

Rocket (aragula) and vegetable salad with pomegranate molasses

Rocket and vegetable salad with pomegranate molasses - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

The point here is to use up little leftovers from the fridge. Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are great raw in a salad. The pomegranate molasses adds an extra touch, but feel free to substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice if you prefer (see variations below).

Ingredients

  • 1 small carrot
  • a good handful of rocket (aragula), rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • a handful of small cauliflower florets, rinsed and drained
  • a handful of small broccoli florets, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

My method

Peel the carrot and shred it on a coarse grater or cut into thin slices. Mix the rocket with a little pomegranate molasses and place on your serving plate. Top with cauliflower, broccoli, shredded carrot and pomegranate seeds. Season to taste and add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Variations

Use what’s in your fridge. You may perfectly well use only cauliflower or broccoli – or something else altogether, like red cabbage, brussels sprouts, regular cabbage or turnips. If you have a few stalks of fresh soft herbs that need using up, or some sprouted seeds, feel free to add those too. I sometimes substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice for the pomegranate molasses. If so, squeeze on top alongside the extra virgin olive oil rather than with just the rocket. It all depends what I’ve got, and what I’m in the mood for.

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