Salads and slaws go perfectly with barbecues and these ones are so good you can forget the meat.
The silly season is well underway and, already, weekends have involved shared dinners and barbecues and requests to bring a coleslaw. Slaw is a great addition to any shared lunch or dinner - something about the crunch and the tang sits well alongside charred meat.
I'd rather eat less good-quality meat than more of the bad stuff. Some "steak" that is sold at supermarkets has an ingredients' list - that's a worry; it's meat. I go for quality over quantity every time but when I have an array of beautiful salads, I could happily omit meat altogether - especially when there's thick slices of eggplant and haloumi on the grill plate.
If I'm heading to a barbecue and am asked to take something, I always opt for easy, quick and low-maintenance when preparing them. Bonus points if I already have the ingredients.
I try to keep a well-stocked pantry of nuts, seeds, oils, pastas, grains and dried fruit. They all go a long way to meaning dinner is never too far away. My friend has an abundance of kale in his garden and admitted to making kale pesto and stirring it through pasta three nights in a row. It's a bit repetitive but is hard to go past when dinner takes less than 20 minutes.
These salads are all twists on things I've done before and I put my food processor through its paces for them - the slicing and grating attachments are my new best friends. The slaw takes on a slightly Japanese flavour with sesame oil, plenty of coriander, mung bean sprouts and spring onion. Adding raw garlic to the dressing gives it a real kick - just remember to dress it at your venue so it doesn't go soggy.
Raw beetroot is on high rotate at present and the fennel in my garden is out of control, so I've made the most of it here. These all make a great base for a summer dinner at home - just add your favourite protein and enjoy.
Raw beetroot and asparagus salad
Makes one big bowl (serves 6-8)
2 medium-sized beetroot, peeled
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 large bunch mint, finelychopped
½ cup chopped New Zealandwalnuts, or walnut pieces
50g blue cheese, crumbled
You can buy pomegranate balsamic reduction - I used Divinity brand from Matakana - but this is a version you can make yourself
3 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Pinch sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a small jug and whisk well until combined.
For the salad
1 Grate the beetroot using a food processor grating disc or a manual grater. Set aside in a bowl.
2 Slice the asparagus into fine slices on a diagonal using the slicing disc, a mandolin, or a knife and a steady hand. Add to the beetroot.
3 Add the mint, walnuts and blue cheese. Drizzle over the dressing and gently toss to combine.
Coriander and sesame slaw
½ green cabbage
1 bunch coriander
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 bunch spring onions, ends removed and finely sliced
½ cup toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (mixture of white and black if you have them)
1 Tbsp fried shallots (optional)
1 Slice the cabbage using a knife or the slicer blade on your food processor. Grate the carrots.
2 Add all ingredients into a bowl and gently toss to combine. When ready to serve, add dressing, and garnish with extra coriander and peanuts, and the fried shallots if using.
For the dressing
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove raw garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp chilli oil, or a decent pinch of chilli flakes
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Pinch sea salt
Whisk all ingredients in a jug and taste and adjust as necessary.
Raw fennel and broccoli salad with quick pickled onions
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
½ head broccoli
1-2 fennel bulbs
¾ cup dates
¼ cup hazelnuts (or almonds), lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey and sea salt. Add the thinly sliced red onion, ensuring the onion is submerged. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
2 Rinse the broccoli well under cold water, then pat dry with a tea towel. Blitz it in a food processor. Alternatively, roughly chop the broccoli until reasonably fine.
3 Thinly slice the fennel using a food processor or a mandolin.
4 Add broccoli and fennel into a large bowl. Add the dates and the hazelnuts.
5 Remove the red onion from the liquid and add to the salad. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the liquid and whisk together well. Use this to dress the salad, adjusting the taste as necessary.