Perfect barbecue salads
August 5, 2015

I’ve got a reputation in my family for being a bit useless. Maybe that’s too harsh – perhaps chaotic. I’m the one who turns up late, gets drunk, forgets birthday cards, and is generally a bit of a nightmare. It’s so bad, in fact, that my niece’s invite to her 9th birthday family party went a bit like this: “Auntie Elle, Mum said I should invite you to my party in August but I told her you probably wouldn’t come, because you never come”. I know!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, there was no way I was missing this party. Or any others. Ever.

So what has this got to do with food? Well, we all know (including my family) that my apparent inability to be an adult extends to my culinary skills. I’m working on it, but I reckon I’m still lagging a fair few years behind most other 30-something women. The aforementioned annual party for my niece is usually a barbecue – which means everyone tends to take something and if I was going to turn over a new leaf and attend the party, I’d be going the whole hog and taking something too.

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that my brothers are fairly good in the kitchen. One has featured twice, once with his breakfast pizzas, and a slap-up meal deserving of restaurant status, and the other is just as handy. Not to mention all the other family members who are a dab hand at this cooking malarkey. So I knew my contribution had to be good. Cue an in-depth google search to find just the right dish.

Meat was catered for by my little big brother, the host. Other brother was taking an array of salads – tabbouleh, coleslaw, potato salad, and a green bean salad (all homemade of course). Cakes and desserts were sorted. So what about little sis’ the letdown?

I decided I would take two salads, but something out of the ordinary. A nod to some healthy eating (amid what would undoubtedly be a feast of meat and cake), and hopefully tasty and fresh.

The first I found was a Mary Berry recipe that I found on the BBC Good Food website. An easy mixed bean salad. Even I couldn’t go wrong with that. Tins of mixed beans, chopped spring onions, celery (which I didn’t put in because I don’t like it), diced tomato and seasoning.  And then it was just the case of the dressing – olive oil, white wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard. chopped fresh tarragon and chopped fresh parsley.

Mixed bean summer salad

It was everything I had hoped – colourful and tasty, with the piquant vinaigrette spicing it up a bit. Hurrah for Google!

My confidence boosted, I found a second one that I decided I could handle, courtesy of fellow blogger Once Upon a Chef. An Asian kale slaw with creamy peanut butter and ginger dressing. Sounds tasty right? A quick look at the ingredients and I reckoned even I could manage it. So a quick trip to the supermarket and I got cracking.

I won’t include the whole recipe here, because the full recipe for Asian Kale Salad with Creamy Ginger Peanut Dressing is on Once Upon a Chef’s site.* But essentially, chop up your kale, shred your carrot, and finely slice your red pepper and some red cabbage. I had to pause at the red cabbage stage to admire it and, in fact, stop to admire the bright rainbow of lovely fresh veg that stared out at me from the bowl. Into this add toasted almonds (I didn’t toast my own – turns out simpletons like me can buy them ready-toasted!) and chopped coriander.

Beautiful patterns on a red cabbage

Asian kale salad

Then, the dressing is an impressive array of every possibly Asian-connected bottle you’ve got in your condiment cupboard. Deep breath in……. peanut butter, rice vinegar, fresh lime juice, vegetable oil, soy sauce, honey, sugar, chopped garlic, chopped fresh ginger, salt, Sriracha (it’s a kind of chilli sauce), and sesame oil. Proportions are all on the full recipe.Put them all in a blender or food processor and blitz them together and you’ve got a yummy, Asian-influence, almost satay-like dressing. I had to add a tiny bit of water to thin it down because it wasn’t thin enough to pour (not sure if this is the right thing to do, but it worked), and then you simply toss all your veg in it.

Asian Kale slaw ingredients

This, folks, was a winner. I’d have been happy if people had just said it was edible. But it got the thumbs up from everyone – to the point that they wanted to keep the leftovers. Hurrah! It was so good, in fact, that I made it all again the following day to give to Mr M, who too gave it his seal of approval.

The amounts on Jennifer’s blog makes 6 servings, each serving with 282 calories, 18g fat, 28g carbs, and 7g protein, so yeah, it’s possibly not the healthiest salad in the book, but it looks good, it tastes good, and it was easy to make. Who’s complaining?

Asian kale salad with creamy peanut dressing

As for my beautiful niece, she had a great day, full of family, presents, cake and fun. Let’s give her a big old Happy 9th Birthday, and a big thanks from her auntie for getting me the next step along that road to kitchen goddess-ness…and adulthood!

*Unfortunately, since writing this post, the recipe for the slaw has been taken down.