Vegetable salads are typically cooked, but there are exceptions. A celeriac remoulade consists of grated raw celeriac bound with a mustardy mayonnaise; fennel is often served raw, finely shaved and dressed with a piquant vinaigrette; then there's avocado, tomato (yes, it's technically a fruit), radish and cucumber. Roasted root vegetables make the most perfect winter salads, either as a combination of vegetables or to highlight a single specimen, such as eggplant in the recipe below. Cooked vegetable salads are at their best when served just warm or at room temperature; in these cases it is preferable to dress the salad with only part of the dressing, initially allowing it to soak up the flavours, adding the rest as a final flourish just before serving.
- 2 eggplant (about 760gm)
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ cup mint leaves (loosely packed)
- 80 gm goat’s cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 Spanish onions, cut into wedges
- 6 cloves garlic, lightly bruised
- 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp chilli flakes
- To taste: caster sugar
- 1Preheat oven to 160C. Cut eggplant lengthways into wedges and place onto an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with cumin and roast for 1 hour or until tender. Cool to room temperature.
- 2For spiced onion, heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and garlic, season with sea salt
and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened. Add ginger and remaining spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup water and simmer for 5 minutes or until reduced. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and caster sugar. Cool to room temperature.
- 3Arrange eggplant among plates, spoon over spiced onion, scatter with torn mint leaves, crumble over goat’s cheese, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
For a zucchini, fennel and corn salad, thinly slice zucchini lengthways using a mandolin and blanch in hot water for a few seconds until tender. Cook corn in boiling water until tender and refresh under cold running water. Using a sharp knife remove corn kernels from cob in chunks. Finely shave fennel and combine gently with zucchini, corn and torn basil leaves. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and Dijon mustard, season to taste, drizzle over salad and serve.