My Salad Days

"Does it come with a salad?", this is my hopeful question in most restaurants. No matter how eager I am to try the main course, the salad remains my eternal favorite. To crunch on fresh greens with a seasoning of the simplest ingredients is such a fulfilling, palate cleansing act in my opinion.

This inclination to raw food stems from my childhood - if you have a father who whips up a salad every single day and enjoys creating dressings from some really unique ingredients - you are bound to view salads differently.


(the book & the tool)

My interest in food and cooking started by perusing my mom's cookbooks when I didn't have anything to read. Today I have a collection I am really emotional about (yes, I get emotional about my books!). It's not huge, but I have bought each book (or it has been gifted to me) with a lot of thought behind it.

One such book is 'Twelve Months of Monastery Salads' by Victor D'Avila Latourette, a Benedictine monk. It is a collection of almost 200 salad recipes that the monks prepare in their kitchens throughout the year. How good are the recipes? Well, I e-mailed a couple to my dad and now I have a standing instruction to get this book for him on my next visit!


(adpated from 'Twelve Months of Monastery Salads)
1 cup black beans*
a handful of corn kernels
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Dressing -
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cumin powder
a pinch of paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Garnish -
finely chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight and cook till tender but holding their shape. Or rinse and drain if using canned beans. Combine with corn, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl. Add minced garlic and toss well.

Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl until thickened. Pour over salad and mix well. Adjust seasoning and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for flavors to blend.

Garnish with cilantro and serve. (Eat with your eyes first!).

* In the book this is a Latin American inspired three bean salad with red, black and white beans. I used black beans only because I didn't have the other two. You can also use red kidney beans (rajma) or black eyed peas (chawli) as a substitute. The mustard is not a prominent flavor so it can be omitted. Use a little red chilli powder in place of paprika to make it spicy by Indian standards! This salad is perfect for lunch boxes, picnics and potlucks.

* Trivia of the day - The phrase 'salad days' was first used by Shakespeare in Anthony & Cleopatra -
My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then!

* Entry for 'Show me your Cookbook' hosted by Nags of For the Cook in Me



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salad looks colourful,and delicious. I need to get the book too 200 recipes of salad..Thats great,hope to see more salad recipes ....

4:25 PM  
Blogger FH said...

I made a Caribbean salad at Aroma few month back, I loved it.You can eat and eat, Bean salad is so flavorful. Looks great Ash, love the book too.Your dad has great taste!:))

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashwini, that books sounds wonderful! Thanks for that introduction - I am going to look into it. I love salads too, in fact, if I don't eat anything salad-like for a few days I start feeling a little restless about it.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Rajitha said...

wow..thnks for tuning me to this book...gotta buy it.. i love salads.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Siri said...

Great salad ashwini.. I love salads too and even I ask the same question.. " Is this served with salad?"... heheh thanks for sharing dear..

8:34 PM  
Blogger Bong Mom said...

So colourful and refreshing

8:39 PM  
Blogger Chandrika said...

Looks yum!

10:16 PM  
Blogger Rajesh &Shankari said...

Really nice that your parents instilled good eating habits in you :)The bean salad looks very appetizing

11:15 PM  
Blogger amna said...

lovely entry. thank you so much, Ashwini :)

7:24 AM  
Blogger Padma said...

Nice looking salad Ashwini

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That looks like a cool salad Ashwini. My hubby is a great fan of salads. I think he will love this. My experiments with salads are close to zero. So I will have to start it someday.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Richa said...

looks gorgeous :)

12:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Looks very colourful & yummy.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Madhu, ET, Rajitha - Its a great book with a large variety of salads for every month of the year. Latourette has also written a similar soup book, which I own as well but the salad book is better in my opinion

Asha - Caribean salad? Sounds great..will look it up on your blof

Siri - I often get weird looks from the waitstaff for this reason..I spend 5-7 minutes deciding the main course I want then get all excited about the house salad ;-)

Sandeepa, Chandrika - thanks

Shankari - yes, that's why it never occurred to me to be fussy about veges!

Nags - thanks, I loved participating

Padma, Richa, Pushpa - thanks

Shilpa - this is a good salad to begin with - it is simple and very close to Indian flavors (like kosumbari) so you won't be trying something radical..let me know if your husband enjoys it

5:33 PM  
Blogger bee said...

ashwini, please request your dad to write his own salad book. his first customer is waiting.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Roopa said...

bean salad looks healthy :) so yum i love salads need to check on this book :)

10:28 PM  
Blogger Selin said...

wow!Thank you so much Ashwini. Because i love salads. Wery nice.Really :)) Byee...

5:17 AM  
Blogger Dhana said...

Its scary how your opening statement felt like you were describing me ;). I am usually the person at the table who will be passed on everyone's salad as they are busy digging into their lamb chops, and I end up looking the happiest at the table..hehe

10:30 AM  
Blogger Ketki said...

Hi new to the world of food blogging..! I was wondering how you come to know about these monthly food events..! Is there a common place where people put in their invites?
Please let me know.!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Bee - I hope he doesn't read this - I'll never hear the end of it :-)

Roopa, Selin - thanks

Dhana - great minds and all that!!!

Ketki - For this month the ever resourceful Bee compiled a list. I hope they do it every month :-)

There is list on Dining Hall too (right side) -

And for all other events there is Is My Blog Burning
Hope this helps.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Swaruchy said...

Salad looks great dear........Ur dad's taste is too good :-)
I would love to one copy of that book :-)

7:19 AM  
Blogger bucket of calculators said...

Wow, you really know your stuff! I'll be honest; I have never been a large fan of salads. My family is the opposite of yours. We were never forced to eat a lot of salads, and quite frankly I just don't think my parents liked them all that much either, especially my dad. He despises healthy food. I on the other hand have ventured out over the years and tried new things. Even though I am not a fan, I do find these recipes good looking. I would be willing to try some of that. So do you get a variety of salads from all these books? Is there anywhere else that gives you good advice for salad suggestions? What is your favorite kind of salad? Do you prepare these types of recipes for your self? are the ingredients easy to find? Are there any suggestions that you could give someone like me, someone who has no real knowledge of making a "good quality" salad? I would like to eat more of it, it's healthy and easy to make. Well I find your article very good, I hope to learn a little about some creative ways to eat healthy and get into the so called "Salad Days".

1:52 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Sirisha - thanks

BoC - Know my stuff? Hardly but I'll try to answer your questions -
So do you get a variety of salads from all these books?
Yes, the book has a considerable variety, from potato and chickpea salads to the more popular waldorf and caesar.

Is there anywhere else that gives you good advice for salad suggestions?
There are quite a few books out there. This just happens to be my favorite. I am sure you'd find more on amazon. If you want something off the net, most cooking web sites (food network, cooking light, epicurious etc) carry a lot of recipes.

What is your favorite kind of salad?
Too many to list!

Are the ingredients easy to find?
The ingredients depend on the salad. If you want to make something frou frou like escarole with goat cheese and marcona almonds you might have to search a bit! But most recipes only ask for good quality olive oil and fresh greens.

Are there any suggestions that you could give someone like me, someone who has no real knowledge of making a "good quality" salad?
I am in no way qualified to give suggestions! I can only say that if you begin by using your favorite foods in salads you are bound to start enjoying them. Not ice cream of course but chopped fruit of your choice or pecans or almonds etc. Good luck!

3:33 PM  
Blogger Nabeela said...

Ashwini, the comment section seems to be closed on your buns post...btw, great story! ;)

9:36 PM  
Blogger Bindiya said...

Just delicious!love salads.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Mansi said...

I'm not much of a sald type, but bean and sprout salad is a YES for me any day!!

PS: I'd be glad if you could send in an entry to AFAM-Peach event hosted onmy blog...Also blogrolling you:)

4:17 PM  

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