Grated and sliced everything: salad-based food memories

When I grew up, I – and everyone else – ate school dinners. They weren’t great but one thing I really liked about them was the daily salad. We’re not talking attractive or glamorous salads, but “råkost”, the Swedish food for raw food. In the 70s, it was all the rage: raw or lightly soured veg was everywhere. My favourite was carrot salad. Back then, it was just carrot, lots and lots of grated carrot. When we didn’t have carrot, we had white or red cabbage. Not the veg of nostalgic childhood memories for most people, I’d guess, but I get get carrot and cabbage cravings. Maybe it’s the bad weather. These are light but hearty salads, earthy veg for rainy days.

Cabbage, carrots, nuts and green leaves makes tasty and healthy salads for rainy days

Cabbage, carrots, nuts and green leaves makes tasty and healthy salads for rainy days

When I went home for a long weekend recently, I encountered a fabulous salad that I’d forgotten all about: pizza salad. It’s called pizza salad because you get it as an “eat as much as you like” side in pizzerias. It’s a kind of coleslaw made with black pepper and vinaigrette instead of salad cream. Here’s what’s so fab about it and the other raw salads of my  childhood. (And three recipes – not all of them raw, but all earthy and easy to make.)

Easy to Make

Carrot salad: carrots and orange. Lovely.

Carrot salad: carrots and orange. Lovely.

The fab thing about these salads is that they take very few ingredients and are easy to make. Many years ago I delivered training at a company in Warsaw and was impressed to find several two or three ingredient salads in the canteen at lunch time. Carrot and orange, tomato and onion, cucumber and dill, white cabbage and red peppers. Shred the raw materials and chuck them together. Ta dah! You’ve got salad that lasts for days.

Carrot Salad

Carrot salad is tasty, pretty and fast. It goes well with pretty much anything. (I happily eat it on its own.)

Carrot Salad
 
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A very simple dish to make and full of goodness. You'll sometimes see heritage carrots in the market, they'll look very pretty in this dish
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Swedish
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 500 grams carrots, topped and washed
  • 1 orange
Instructions
  1. Grate the carrots.
  2. Peel the orange and chop the flesh roughly.
  3. Mix orange and carrots.

Tasty!

Pizza salad at Brezza Marina pizzeria in Stockholm.

Pizza salad at Brezza Marina pizzeria in Stockholm.

You might not think it, but these salads taste good. Carrot is sweet and succulent and you can make it even more so by adding a handful of raisins or the mashed-up pulp of an orange. Immediate winter sunshine. I like my white cabbage dumped in boiling water for a minute or so, it makes it delightfully limp, but most veg I’m happy to eat raw as long as they are grated. Mooli, parsnip even potato, become special by the simple expedient of grating.

Pizza Salad

This should be slightly tangy and not too greasy. You can add colour and interest by shredding in a slice of oven-baked red pepper, or spice it up with extra black pepper, fines herbes, or a handful of finely chopped parsley.

Pizza Salad
 
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With its origins in Sweden, this is another simple, delicious dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Pizza Salad
Cuisine: Swedish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small cabbage
  • 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Shred the cabbage.
  2. Blanch for a minute or two in boiling water.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Mix cabbage, oil and vinegar, and add pepper to taste.

 

Good for You

Wilted spinach and hazelnuts. Simple and tasty.

Wilted spinach and hazelnuts. Simple and tasty.

I don’t want to mention it, really, but salads that aren’t doused in dressing are good for you. They are full of fibre and vitamins and need a good amount of chewing. (I remember chewing being an important thing back when I was little, foodstuffs that needed serious chewing were automatically better for you than things that didn’t. With the sad exception of chewing gum.) A handful of nuts added to any greenery gives flavour and crunch.

Spinach and Hazelnuts

This is good with raw or wilted spinach. I really like raw spinach in salads but I often wilt it because it takes a lot less room that way. Wilted with spinach with a little bit of butter and hazel nuts is delicious with a good steak, as I learned when I was at the restaurant Steak, 14 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, the other night. It’s nice without butter too.

Hazelnut and Spinach Salad
 
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This recipe goes extremely well with a good steak.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Swedish
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • A bag of spinach
  • A handful of hazelnuts
  • Butter
Instructions
  1. Wilt the spinach in a little butter
  2. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
  3. Put the spinach in a bowl - or divide between plates - and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Ingredients

  • A bag of spinach
  • A handful of hazelnuts

Method

  1. Wilt the spinach.
  2. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
  3. Put the spinach in a bowl – or divide between plates – and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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