STARTING on Monday, the country, if not the world, kick starts the beginning of a week-long celebration of all that can described as salad.
Yes, a whole seven days of the whole nation eating nothing but Lactuca sativa, Raphanus sativa, Cucumis sativus (sativus, sativa just mean ‘cultivated’) and Solanum lycopersicum – now there’s a mouth full!
I have carried out extensive research into this spectacular celebration and cannot, despite my best efforts, find out who has organised it – if you know, please write to me at the new address, Graham’s National Salad Week Debate, Features Department, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Pennine Business Park, Longbow Close, Bradley Road, Huddersfield, HD2 1GQ, and put me out of my misery.
Seriously, freshly picked salad crops, straight from the garden, washed under a tap and mixed in a bowl with some home made salad dressing do take some beating – no food miles, no long preparation time, no expensive cooking and lots of healthy vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals to help stave off the ravages of time.
The generic word salad means a whole lot more to us these days than it ever did, not only because we have a wider range of acceptable salads to choose from, but we have all expanded our ideas on what else can be included in a modern salad to make it look and taste better.
If you are older than 40, you will probably remember salads as only being made up of lettuce, cucumber, beetroot and tomato, perhaps with a hard boiled egg on the side.
These days, if you go out for a meal at any decent restaurant and ask for a side salad or a Caesar salad or even the infamous ‘Waldorf salad’ of John Cleese fame, they will contain a variety of the following and more besides: toasted almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, nasturtium flowers, rocket leaves and flowers, radish in variety, beetroot in variety, peppers in variety, chillies or chilli flakes to give it a bite, corn salad, mange tout peas, sweet corn, white cabbage, grated carrots, red lettuce, mizuna, red spinach, basil leaves, coriander leaves and seeds, apple, melon, seedlings of mustard, cress, beetroot and bean sprouts, let alone a good home made salad dressing.
Visit your local garden centre and search through the racks of vegetable seeds and you will find that the range of salad crops is endless – if you haven’t already, try a few this year with your family and you will be surprised at how quick, easy and cheap they are and you will all be getting a few of your ‘five a day’ almost without trying.
So, even if you cannot find out who organises National Salad Week, there is still time this summer to sow a few short rows of salad crops in the garden or a few small pots on a patio, balcony or windowsill and taste the true freshness of growing quick, easy to grow, easy to harvest and yummy to eat salad crops. Happy National Salad Week