Zora's Salad

My mother Zora is without doubt an ultimate champion salad maker. Having been vegetarian since she was old enough to choose, she’s learned a thing or two about making healthy delicious food. Her Italian-Slovene upbringing really shows in her delight of growing her own fresh vegetables and using them to great effect. What I’d like to do in this recipe is give you an idea of her thought process when she builds a salad.

Serves: 4     Prep time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • A cupful of ripe tomato, cut into thin chunks
  • A handful of fresh basil
  • A couple of stems of parsley (and other fresh herbs if you have them like oregano, chives)
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • a cupful of white and/or red cabbage, very finely shredded
  • Lettuce, a few big leaves or a handful of small ones
  • 1 Capsicum (green, orange, red or a mix), finely sliced
  • Spinach, 1 small bunch, roughly chopped
  • Silverbeet, 1 leaf, very thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 stick of celery, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 carrot, shaved into strips with a potato peeler
  • Fresh alfalfa sprouts, a small handful

(Use whatever salad vegetables you have in the garden, or are really fresh)

  • 6 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Get a big salad bowl rinsed and ready to go. Add the tomato, basil and other herbs then mix to combine and sprinkle with salt and a little olive oil. Let this infuse and soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Gradually add the rest of the vegetables, taking special care when cutting and preparing them. Think about how you can cut them finely enough that they will be easy to chew and release their flavour in each mouthful. Spinach is soft so it can be a little bigger. Celery needs to be thin or it requires too much chewing. Silverbeet is great sliced very thinly on an angle. Carrot is moist and juicy when peeled into strips, but tough and tiring when cut into rounds.

Mum always runs out to her garden (just a small bed at the back door) to see what is ready to pick for that night. Even if it’s just fresh parsley (which truly anyone can grow) or silverbeet it makes a big difference to have something so fresh that it is bursting with life. Anything from the shop will be at least a couple of days old and it really makes a big difference.

Sprinkle your finely chopped garlic on top then add a decent sprinkle of good salt and pepper. Splash the lemon and orange juice on top so it washes the salt down through the salad, then add a little bit of soy sauce and lastly a generous pour of good olive oil. Add fresh sprouts and toss the salad well, gathering up the tomato and herb layer from the bottom. There should be enough dressing on that a small pool is left on the bottom of the bowl, family tradition is to drink this at the end as almost a vitamin tonic!