Looking for tasty new seasonal food options in London? These salads will put a spring in your step.
So you found your favourite cosy pub in winter, and you know where to get the ultimate kebab and the best late-night burger in London.
But the weather is changing, and our bodies are crying out for some delicious, seasonal salads to celebrate the return of the sun.
Think ‘salad’ and you may think a limp pile of mesclun lettuce or perhaps a stodgy bowl of roast vegetables with a greasy dressing. Fear not, ‘salad’ in our deliciously multi-cultural age can mean a range of tasty, healthy, and creative concoctions.
Whether you’re a hard core protein binger, a vegetable addict, or a lover of spice, there is a fresh and delicious salad out there perfect for your palate. Eating salads is an easy way to enjoy more fibre, fresh vegetables, and good fats like extra virgin olive oil, all of which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on our overall health.
Find a café with a courtyard or garden, order yourself a delicious salad, and surround yourself with freshness inside and out.
We’ve done the hard work of trying out different food in London so you don’t have to: here is our list of some delicious salads you’ll want to look out for at your local cosy café as the days get warmer.
No more sad piles of leaves, thank you!
With fresh tomatoes hinting at the start of summer, and bread to fill you up on those final chilly winter days, panzanella is the ideal gateway salad for spring. Look for a version that uses heirloom Italian tomatoes and croutons made from a good ciabatta from a local bakery. Finished with buffalo mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and a heaping of fragrant basil leaves, this salad is a picture postcard straight from the Mediterranean. Any good café serving Mediterranean-influenced cuisine should be ushering in the spring with this number.
- Lush Mango Green Salad
The perfect version of this salad contains five different leafy greens: baby spinach, cos, red chard, rocket, and tatsoi, which give this salad a depth of flavour with an edge of bitterness, a natural complement to the bright and sweet Tommy Atkins mango. Crisply fried bamboo shoots, snap peas, and flecks of red chilli dressing create the choppy effect of a modernist painting in your bowl, well suited to the artsy café vibe of many South-East Asian influenced food joints. Most Thai or Vietnamese-influenced joints offer a version of this salad, often with crab, chicken or another protein.
Look out for the mango salad’s close relation, the papaya salad — both go very well with richer dishes like fried spring rolls or perfectly crisp Vietnamese pancakes (banh xeo)
- Salad Aux Fine Herbes
Herbs are the star of this en point contemporary French salade. Traditional fine herbs are parsley, chervil, chives, and tarragon. Only fresh herbs will do here, so look for versions of this salad only at cafés you trust to source exceptional fresh produce. Think creative dressings such as tarragon and honey mustard, aged balsamic and thyme, or champagne vinegar and hazelnut oil. Romantic variations on a theme shouldn’t feature anything too punchy — you want soft textures like thinly sliced blanched vegetables or soft goat’s cheese. Serve with a selection of cheeses and a fresh ciabatta loaf.
- Country Pumpkin Salad
Look out for a country pumpkin salad at your local gastropub for something that will ease you out of frosty winter and into fresh spring. The robust flavours in this rich country salad will fill your stomach and warm your soul. Pumpkin with ingredients such as toasted seeds, diced gammon, cob loaf croutons, and crumbled Wensleydale combine to create a heartfelt meal, perfect for a private corner in a snug and cosy cafe. You won’t want to share!
- Tahini and Chargrilled Aubergine Salad
Popularised by star chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, tahini is now appearing in everything from sugar buns to roasted chicken dishes. Tahini’s bitter, nutty elements give it a great affinity with charred vegetables like aubergine, or anything from the brassica family. Jewel-like pomegranate seeds will sparkle and sweeten the dish, or look out for a grounding note like miso.
If you’re having a gourmet home day instead of a gourmet café day, try recreating a delicious salad at home using these flavour combinations: unlike baking, salads are very forgiving recipes, so get into the kitchen and give it a go.
A winning combination will feature something fresh, like a green leaf; something rich, like roast or fried vegetables, cooked meats, cheese, or nuts; something crunchy, like seeds, sprouts, or croutons; and something sharp, like vinegar, lemon, capers, or olives.