Not just ‘ghas-phus’

When I tell people that I can eat salads as a meal in itself, I’m met with stares and incredulous looks. “Really, you? Why would you eat ghas-phus for a meal?” they ask. Well it isn’t just ghas-phus (a Hindi colloquial term for vegetables), salads are more than just that and if you’ve been around here for a while, then you will know that salads are a regular feature at my place. Sometimes we have a soup and salad for dinner. At times, we’ve even had just a nice, big, hearty salad with crusty bread as a meal in itself.

Since I make salads so often I thought I’d share with you three of them, which I’ve made recently and which have turned out absolutely delicious. Each one is different and unique but, what is common is that they all use fresh, seasonal produce and don’t take too long to put together. So if you’re tired after a long day at work, have people over or just want to make something that’s easy, healthy and tasty; here are three options.

A whole bunch of textures that play with your senses
Beet, pear & walnut salad 
Beetroot is not one of my favourite vegetables and often, I have to trick myself into eating it! But, if I had to eat this salad every single day, I would, happily. The sweet earthiness of the beetroot, the tartness of the pear, salty hint of the Feta and the crunch from the walnuts make this salad a winner all the way. 
1 beetroot, steamed 
1 large pear, de-seeded and sliced 
2 tbsp of Feta cheese 
For the dressing
Mix these and keep aside for about 5 minutes 
1/2 tsp of Balsamic vinegar 
1 tsp of olive oil 
Some freshly crushed peppercorn 
Pinch of salt 
For the garnish
A handful of Rocket leaves 
1 tbsp of walnuts 
Peel the beetroot and slice it, the slices should be about 3mm thick. Soak the sliced pear in water with a few drops of lemon to prevent it from discolouring. 
On a large platter, arrange the beetroot slices at the bottom. Mix the pear with half of the walnuts and place on top of this. Crumble the Feta cheese over this, followed by rest of the walnuts. Now drizzle the salad dressing on top of this. Finish with the Rocket leaves. Serve immediately. 

Don’t they say that you eat with your eyes first? 
Mix veggie & bean salad 
I love adding beans to salads – apart from giving it that punch of protein, they also make the dish very filling. All you need to do is serve this with a light soup and you have a complete meal. 

1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons 
1 yellow bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced 
1 red carrot, peeled and cut into batons of about an inch tall 
A handful of rajma (red kidney beans) steamed 
1 cup of lettuce, torn 
2 tbsp of mint leaves, torn 
1 tbsp of parsley, torn 
Put all these vegetables into a mixing bowl and pour over a dressing that’s made from:
1 tsp olive oil 
1/2 tsp of mustard 
1 tsp of honey
A pinch of salt
Toss the vegetables in the dressing so that all the vegetable pieces are coated with it. Serve immediately. 

This dish is warm and comforting

Warm prawn salad

Prawns are among my favourite seafood. Using them in a salad like this just shows how versatile this is. We had this salad with hunks of crusty bread, also known as kadak pav in Mumbai! This one is perfect when the nights are a little chilly

200 gms of prawns, cleaned and deveined
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 green chilli, sliced, de-seeded and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup of bean sprouts
Some olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the garlic to it. When this begins turning brown, add the chilli and follow with the prawns. Saute until the prawns are almost done. Now add the bean sprouts, you don’t want to add them too early because they will lose their crunch. Season well but remember you will need to add Feta cheese, which is salty, later on.

Top this dish with:
A handful of Arugula leaves
Some Raddish micro greens
Crumbled Feta cheese

And serve warm with bread. We ate it right out of the pan that I had cooked it in!

*There are some ingredients in these recipes like Arugula or micro greens which may not be easily available. You can substitute with Iceberg lettuce or chopped parsley or mint for this. Yes, it will impact the flavours but fresh herbs always weave a magic of their own

*All these salads are best eaten the minute they’re prepared. I would advise against storing it even for a couple of minutes and eating it later on

*While washing the vegetables, soak them in salted water for a while, rinse and then proceed. This helps get rid of germs, bacteria and all other unwanted things

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