How to: build a salad bar
Our salad bar makes the most of winter’s great salad greens.
In timber boxes we picked up from our local grocer we grow mizuna, mibuna, pea shoots, beetroot, rocket, purslane, mustards, and a range of different lettuces. The ‘crop boxes’ are on waist-high racks on the back fence so they are easy to get at, even in the dark.
We pick some greens at the seedling stage, (called ‘microgreens’ by chefs and foodies). Others grow into salad leaves whose flavour and freshness easily beats the packs found in supermarkets, which are drenched in chlorine to keep them fresh. We also pick winter flowers from our chemical-free garden, pulling petals from violas, pansies and nasturtiums to decorate our salads.
Photo - Paroli Galperti/photolibrary.com
How to build your own!
Fill a timber (or polystyrene) box with seed raising mix, then moisten the soil.
Sow a row of seeds. As you are going to pick the leaves when young you don’t need to worry too much about correct spacing. Gently cover with a light covering of seed raising mix.
Label the row, to confirm what you taste, but you’ll be amazed at how even at a very young stage you can identify rocket, mustard, even beetroot. And pea shoots taste just like peas!
Water every day with a fine spray.
As they grow, thin seedlings out and use them to garnish dinner or to make a mixed microgreen salad. As they grow larger remove the outer leaves for salads.
After picking, soak the leaves in a bowl or sink of water for a couple of hours, then drain, and dry gently in a salad spinner. (We spin them in a tea towel outside.)
Our favourite dressing
In your salad bowl put one part vin cotto, three parts olive oil, a little grainy mustard, a dash of honey and a pinch of salt and whisk together. Add your salad leaves, and use clean hands to gently toss the leaves through the dressing. If you feel like something punchier add half a clove of chopped garlic before you add the leaves.