Salad four ways

When working a full-time job, it does get very tiring trying to come up with new ways to get fed during the day. I always compare it to getting dressed in the morning. Just like when we were all in school and had uniforms. It was boring to have to wear the same thing each day without showing your personality through your fashion choices. Yet it was easy. Whereas when you’ve grown up and joined the 9-5 crew, each day trying to come up with something different to wear, it does get tiring and often unimaginative.

Just like this fashion dilemma, it can be compared to working lunches. It can get so uninspiring to change choices each day and come up with something healthy, satisfying and enjoyable. Of course, we can have the same thing five days in a row, but that’s going to get incredibly boring. What I often love to do is challenge myself each week. So on a Sunday I might go to the supermarket, see what’s fresh and buy it in bulk. Say for example, butternut squash. I then challenge myself to use it in five different ways during the week. Cost-effective (if on special offer, even better!!) and exciting and challenging.

For this particular post, I didn’t use the same thing five times, but used ingredients which are generally available in my fridge, freezer or presses. Tins which are collecting dust all year, fridge staples that are used for the same things day in day out and also matching foods I buy regularly together in a unique way.

Artisan coleslaw

  • 1 organic apple (I used braeburn)
  • 1 carrot (peeled)
  • handful of walnuts
  • handful of cranberries and yellow raisins
  • 2 tbsps creme fraiche
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  1. Grate coleslaw and apple. I used quite a coarse grate, because I like the chunks long and chunky. Drain the juice from both in a thin kitchen towel and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Bake the walnuts for about 10 minutes at 150 degrees celcius. When cooled, chop (you can choose whether to keep it coarse or fine).
  3. Combine everything together. Finish with the drizzle of balsamic over the top.

Spicy and lesser-sweet sweetcorn

  • 1 tin of sweetcorn (if using frozen, that’s fine)
  • 1.5 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Butter and lemon juice

This is basically just an accompaniment to a few salads thrown together. It’s common knowledge that, though sweetcorn is tasty, bright and gorgeously crunchy, the vegetable doesn’t do much for the system except contribute to the metabolism flow. However a great thing about sweetcorn is it can be an amazing filler, and is quite a plain flavour so can be jazzed up in a million ways. I’m looking forward to trying this on some toast, underneath some dry, flaked tuna and a few slices of Gruyere cheese!

Ham, mozzarella, pear and piccalilli

  • 2-3 slices of cooked ham
  • 3 tbsp picallili
  • 1 small pear (peeled)
  • 1 medium mozarella ball
  • 2 tsp dried mustard powder
  1. Peel the pear and cut into strips (or you could alternatively and delicately peel the flesh with a potato peeler, giving this salad much more impact on a plate).
  2. Chop the ham in little cubelets, and repeating with the mozzarella so they are of similar size, but do not combine just yet.
  3. Combine the powdered mustard with the mozarella pieces. Coat the cheese in the yellow powder to dry it out and flavour it.
  4. Add everything together, delicately, and eat instantly. (Not particularly good the next day, so eat the same day)

There’s something so ultimately satisfying in using packet ham in a different way. I think most Irish kids were brought up on ham sandwiches and I, for one, used to despise them. I probably had some bad experiences with cheap ham slices but I always found it rubbery, fatty and unsatsifyingly flavourless. However in recent months i’ve become more inclined to use it. I find Lidl and Aldi have different versions of ham from the continent which are quite nice! I wanted to try this recipe with real, boiled ham but I didn’t have time to make it, so I used packet but I will definitely look forward to when I can substitute the branded version for that lovely, flaky, salty, fibrous ham, the day after, in this salad!

Dill, pickle and tomato salad

  • Tomato
  • pickled gherkin jar
  • sprigs of dill
  • creme fraiche
  • mustard (I put in tarragon mustard, which you can get in speciality shops like Fallon & Byrne in Dublin, but you can use whatever flavoured one you desire)

Everyone seems to have a few tomatoes turning bad in their fridge and they are a nightmare to use up, yet a travesty to throw away. Though I have to be blunt here, only fresh tomatoes will do. Not only are they little bursts of fresh red colour in this salad, but they are also crunchy yet juicy and I have to insist they are kept cold and fresh until chopped. I also have to confess I have such a weakness for dill. It’s freshness is incomparable to any other and I love the cold, forceful thump from this anise-flavoured herb. To round it all off, the vinegary, crunchy bite of pickled gherkin is the marmite of the tin cupboard. Love them or loathe them they need to be used up and this is the perfect way to do so, just add more of the other ingredients if you want to mask the taste.

This is really one of those lump-everything-together type salads and is very dependent on personal taste, so I won’t give a recipe, just adjust to your own flavour barrier and enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this first post in a series of work-related lunching! Let me know your own thoughts! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ipadzorz

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