During the festive season it’s easy to forget about the humble, healthy salad. Often, the assembly of leafy vegetables can become just a bit of afterthought on the side of your plate and far from anything worth being excited about. This needs to change!
Recipe, photography and styling by Elisabeth Chieng of The Gluten Free Table
My secret to keeping the festive season in balance is ensuring each meal features a well-tuned mixture of vegetables. Whether raw or cooked, you’ll find having vegetables on offer can be a surprisingly appealing option. With any salad you make, remember that combining textures and flavours creates an enticing alternative on the Christmas table. Here, I’ve shared two of the salads on high rotation in my kitchen. One, a blueberry and macadamia salad which is beautiful whether served with or without the grilled lamb. The other, a lovely vegan option with ribbons of zucchinis and a crunchy savoury crumb. As you’ll find, each features intriguing flavour combinations and beautiful visual presentation.
Lamb salad with blueberries
600g lamb backstrap, trimmed
120g macadamia nuts
4 large handfuls baby spinach
100g parmesan cheese, grated
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes and ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the macadamia nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until toasted and fragrant.
Grind black pepper out onto a length of baking paper, along with a generous pinch of sea salt flakes. Roll the lamb in this salt and pepper mix until coated on all sides. Add more seasoning if required.
Drizzle a frying pan (or you can BBQ to keep the kitchen cool) with light olive oil and heat until almost smoking. Add the lamb and cook on high (roughly 3-5 minutes) until medium rare. Remove and rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly.
Scatter baby spinach onto a serving platter, add the blueberries and lamb slices, scatter with grated parmesan, toasted crushed macadamias and drizzle with a little balsamic.
Zucchini salad with peas and savoury crumb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 zucchinis, thinly sliced lengthways on a mandolin (or with a vegetable peeler)
200g freshly podded peas
1 cup micro herbs
150g goats cheese
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add zucchini, toss to coat and set aside. Blanch peas until bright green, then drain, refresh in cold water and then drain again. Add to zucchini mixture with micro herbs and toss to combine. Arrange on a large serving platter and sprinkle with goats cheese and savoury crumb (recipe below).
125ml olive oil
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp on maple syrup
Zest from 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the bowl and use your hands to toss the dry ingredients in the dressing until coated. Bake for about 20 minutes or until crunchy and golden, stirring the crumb halfway through. Store in an air-tight jar in room temperature for up to 3 weeks.