Nigel Slater's winter salad recipes (2024)

I made a chicken salad during the week, using the juices from the roasting tin to add depth and savour to the dressing. The chicken was roasted, with both oil and a little butter. The skin crisped – I used only the brown meat – and there were some fine cooking juices adhering tothe tin. I could have used an oil andlemon juice dressing, dissolving the stuck-on savoury juices with a little warmth and a good stir. Instead I fancied something more interesting, a mixture of lime juice and fish sauce. A bright but deeply flavoured result.

Earlier I had made another for beetroot that included toasted spices. Cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds were ground, then warmed until their smell filled the kitchen. Baked and sliced and dressed while still warm, the spices did wonders for the roots, in just the same way that they do for parsnips in a soup. We used the salad as a side dish for thin slices of cold roast beef left from Sunday lunch.

Winter salads appeal just as much as those of summer. A tangle of crisp white cabbage with folds ofspeck and a dressing of seeded mustard; grated carrot, beetroot and celeriac with toasted pecans and dried cranberries; a salad of sautéed potatoes and crumbled, fried black pudding, a dressing made with chives, walnut oil and red-winevinegar. These are my salads of the moment, the ones that provide crisp, fresh leaves but have an earthy, satisfying quality suited to a frosty day. A salad for the winter solstice.

Spiced beetroot with goat's curd salad

I have used red and golden beets here. Use what you can get hold of. You could use ready-cooked beetroots, but you would miss the way the freshly baked roots soak up the toasted spices. I have baked thebeetroots here, but you could boil them, too, in their skins, then peel them before slicing and dressing.

Makes 4 small salads
yellow beetroot 450g
red beetroot 450g

For the dressing:
cardamom pods 8
coriander seeds 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
grated ginger a walnut-sized knob
white-wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 3 tbsp
goat's curd 12 heap tsps

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Scrub the beetroots and trim anystems, but take care not to tear the skins. If you are roasting the beetroots, lay two pieces of foil inaroasting tin, place the beetroots, red on one piece of foil, yellow on the other, bring up the sides of the foil to make an open parcel, then pour alittle water into each package,andthen loosely twist the foil to seal.

Bake the beetroots for a good hour, until they are tender to the pointof aknife. Let them cool alittle,then peel away the skins. (Itiseasiestto do this while they arestill quite warm.) Slice the beetroots thinly, about the thickness of a £2 coin.

Crack the cardamom pods and empty out the little black seeds and crush them coarsely using a pestle and mortar. Put them in a dry frying pan with the coriander and cumin and toast over a medium heat until warm and fragrant.

Tip the toasted seeds into a mixing bowl, grate in the ginger, then pour in the vinegar. Add the olive oil and mix thoroughly then add a pinch of salt. Add the sliced beetroot and toss gently in the dressing, then leave for a good 30 minutes.

Place the beetroots on a large serving plate. Season the goat's curd with a little salt and black pepper, then dot, in small spoonfuls, over thebeetroots.

Roast chicken, lime and mint salad

Nigel Slater's winter salad recipes (1)

For a midweek salad I use thighs or drumsticks, so the chicken cooks quickly. It will of course work with awhole bird, too.

Serves 2
chicken drumsticks 4 large
groundnut oil a little
salt and pepper to season
butter a thick slice
cucumber 1, small
mint leaves a handful
watercress 2 handfuls
radish sprouts a handful

For the dressing:
limes 2
fish sauce 1 tbsp

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.

Put the chicken drumsticks in asmall roasting tin, pour over the oil,season with salt and pepper and add the butter. Roast for 30minutes or so, until they are goldenand the skin is lightly crisp.

Remove the flesh from the bones, leaving in large, juicy but manageable pieces.

Squeeze the lime juice into the roasting tin and place over amediumheat. Add the fish sauce and warm gently, scraping at any sticky bits on the pan and stirring them into the dressing. Check forseasoning – it may need a little ground black pepper.

Slice the cucumber with avegetable peeler, to give long, wide shavings. I do this by shavingthe cucumber on all four sides then discarding thecentral core of seeds.

Return the chicken pieces to thepan and toss gently in the dressing. Tear the mint leaves into large pieces, then toss them with thecucumber and the watercress.

Assemble the salad by puttingthewatercress, cucumber and radishsprouts on to plates then spooning over the warm chicken and its dressing. Finish withafewmore radish sprouts andmint if you wish.

Email Nigel at Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

Nigel Slater's winter salad recipes (2024)


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