• Ever noticed that the salads you order at restaurants are somehow more delicious than the ones you put together at home?  Every bite seems to have perfect crunch and zest, and a more satisfying, full flavour.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  By paying attention to flavour pairings and textures, as well as getting creative with seasonal ingredients, there’s no reason why you can’t whip up restaurant-worthy salads in your own kitchen.

    Crab stick salad
    Jenny Morris’s Crab stick salad

    South Africa is blessed with an abundance of home-grown produce, and as the end of summer nears, you should be taking full advantage of the stone fruit season.  Peaches, nectarines and plums are amongst the most versatile of fruits, and deserve a pride of place in your summer salads.  Having a repertoire of easy, yet delicious salad recipes also helps us serve up a tasty, balanced meal when family dinners are frequently disrupted by power cuts.

    Consider some of the things that restaurant chefs may be doing differently when it comes to creating their ‘moreish’ salads:

    • Adding seasonings such as spices, herbs, honey and citrus to salad dressings that have a good balance of three parts oil to one part acid such vinegar or lemon or lime juice
    • Using a mix of greens for a variety of textures and flavours instead of one type of lettuce
    • Adding grains, legumes, noodles, seeds and nuts because a salad doesn’t have to be dominated by leaves
    • Using star ingredients that both stand-out and complement
    Sticky Black Rice with Lime and Mint Coated Nectarines
    Justine Drake’s Sticky black rice with lime and mint coated nectarines

    It’s worth taking the time to recognise the ‘flavour bombs’ you can create using peaches, nectarines and plums as hero salad ingredients.  The bright sweetness of stone fruits pairs perfectly with a wide range of possible salad ingredients such as:

    • Cheeses – ricotta, mozzarella, blue cheese, goat’s cheese, brie and camembert
    • Meats – prosciutto, gammon, seafood, chicken and duck
    • Greens – rocket, lettuce, cress, shredded cabbage, baby kale and young spinach
    • Herbs – mint, basil, rosemary, tarragon, coriander and thyme
    • Spices – ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, black and cayenne peppers
    • Grains and legumes – barley, cous-cous, rice, quinoa, black beans and chickpeas
    • Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts and peanuts
    • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds
    • Vegetables – red onions, garlic, fennel, radish, peas, carrots, bell peppers, chilies and baby marrows
    • Fruits – lemons, limes, blueberries, cape gooseberries, tomatoes and avocados

    For inspiration, here are three irresistible stone fruit salad recipes compiled by Juicy Delicious and created by cookbook authors, Jenny Morris, Sam Linsell and Justine Drake:

    ALSO SEE: Healthy & fresh summer recipes for outdoor dining

    Healthy & fresh summer recipes for outdoor dining

    Issued by liquidlingo Communications

    Feature image: alvarez via Getty Images