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Serious about Summer Salads

It has never been easy to get my family to eat salad; picky kids put the smallest amount on their plates and eat even less. However, I enjoy salad and eat a lot of it, initially it was for health reasons (getting in my five-a-day) but now, more I eat the more I want. I can eat it all day. Last week I got stuck in traffic on the M60 after work for over an hour I munched through a bag of rocket and a bag of mixed leaves!

Having so many new salad options to choose from and with some supermarkets selling bagged salads for just £1 per bag, I have to admit to being duped in to buying too much just because it is so cheap but once opened, bagged salad does seem to go limp and mushy pretty quickly in the bottom of our fridge.

But it is not just me, I found out recently that salads, fresh fruit and veg are some of our most wasted foods, with an eye watering 1.2 million tonnes worth being thrown away, costing us in the UK a shocking £2.6 billion each year[1]. It gets worse, when you realise almost half of the 1 million tonnes of food and drink waste that is thrown away whole or unopened is fresh veg and salads[2].

So even though I think my contribution is just a £1 bag of rocket, there are literally millions of us throwing it away just 1 bag.

Me I throw it away because:

  • I forget it is there.
  • it gets squashed in the bottom of the salad crisper!
  • I make a salad for the family and it is not all eaten.

Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) have found out that other reasons for this waste is that we buy too much or we get bored with salad after running out of inspiration. So in Manchester they have sponsored a Salad Days event.

Salad Days image

Free Salad days event in Manchester

I definitely need inspiration if I am going to get my family enjoying rather than enduring my salads. For inspiration there are lots of good ideas on the internet and on the LFHW website in particular.

Handily, for me this weekend there is a Free Salad Days event in St Ann’s Square Manchester  Centre, on Sunday 22nd August from 11- 4pm. The event is  organised by Love Food Hate Waste in partnership with Marks and Spencer’s and Hubbub. There will be free taster salads and summer puddings to sample and they will also be offering advice on keeping your salads fresh and will offer  ‘simple solutions to get the most from what you buy’ it so you can turn those salad staples into salad sensations!

So, if you are free come along- they even have an area to keep the kids amused!

Expanding my salad repertoire

I asked my colleagues to provide me with a few new salad recipes to try out and to pass on their ideas for making interesting salads stay fresher for longer.

The first thing I noticed was that my colleague’s salads were much more interesting than mine. So I have included my two favourite recipes from our team:

butternut and blue cheese

Butternut and blue cheese salad

Alison’s Warm Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Salad (serves 2 as a main meal)

You will need:

  • Small butternut squash
  • 4oz Blue cheese such as stilton
  • Handful of walnut halves
  • Runny honey
  • Usual salad ingredients (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber)
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Steps

  1. Put the oven on to 200C
  2. Peel a small butternut Squash and cut into cubes (approx. 2cm)
  3. Brush and coat with oil and roast in a warm oven until just about cooked/soft.
  4. Throw in the walnut halves and mix in with the squash, drizzle with a little runny honey and continue bake whilst you prepare the salad.
  5. Prepare a salad of lettuce, leaves, cucumber, tomatoes etc. and toss in a little balsamic and olive oil dressing
  6. Add the warm squash mixture and crumble or cube as much blue cheese as you prefer over the whole salad mix.
chicory, fennel and strawberry salad

Chicory, fennel and strawberry salad

Lisa’s Tangy Chicory, Fennel and Strawberry salad

You will need:

  • 1 White or red chicory head per person
  • Handful of strawberries
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • fresh mint leaves
  • olive oil, cider vinegar and salt

Steps

  1. Break (don’t chop) the chicory leaves. Wash as dry them and place on serving dish
  2. Chop fennel in thin slices and sprinkle over chicory leaves
  3. Cut strawberries into quarters place on the fennel and chicory salad bed
  4. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the tops and a sprig of mint and then drizzle everything with olive oil and cider vinegar over the top with a pinch of salt.

 Keeping my salad fresher for longer

There is a wealth of info and advice out there on the interweb, here are a few that I think are useful:

  • Don’t put your salad at the bottom of your shopping basket/trolley (rookie mistake!).
  • Keep washed and dry lettuce/spinach/leaves in an airtight tub or wrap washed and dried salad leaves in a tea towel of place kitchen towel in your crisper as it will absorb moisture and keep the salad crisp.
  • Do not wash cucumber until just before you use it.
  • Salad leaves can be refreshed by popping them into iced water for 30 minutes before you need them.
  • Revive your celery, carrots and cucumber put in a glass of cold water in the fridge overnight.
Creamy limp lettuce soup

Creamy limp lettuce soup

For more tips for keeping salads in top condition have a look at the LFHW website. I even found a recipe for limp lettuce and leaves creamy limp lettuce soup -not tried this myself!

All things considered I just need not get duped into buying more than the family can eat, plan better and prepare my salad leaves before I put it in the fridge, can’t be that hard, can it?

Phillippa is a campaign officer with the communications team and mum to a couple of lovely but fussy teens!

[1] Based on WRAP’s Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012

[2] Based on WRAP’s Household Food and Drink Waste: A product Focus 2014

Recycle for Greater Manchester