Hate vegetables? These top salad ideas could transform your taste buds for good...

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Find it hard to get psyched about salad? We totally feel you. Thankfully though, it’s no longer a case of a limp serving of soggy lettuce leaves with a pile of bland cucumber slices on the side. Today’s offerings are turning over a new leaf, offering both style and substance in equal measure.

For founders of Savage Salads , chef Davide Del Gatto and former restaurant manager Kristina Gustafsson, the secret lies in exciting combinations and creative flavours. Having spent years selling satisfying salads from their London stall to crowds of busy commuters and city slickers, they’ve nailed the recipe for success when it comes to healthy, flavoursome work meals that think outside the (lunch) box. Filling and seriously tasty to make the idea of eating more veg more treat than torture, here are three stand out recipes from their new book, ‘Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups’ to help change the way you see (and eat) salad for good. Some require just a little extra prep work but trust us, your taste buds will be sure to thank you for the additional effort.

1) The new chicken salad: Grilled poussin, sumac, rocket, chickpeas and pomegranate

Davide and Kristina say: “Poussin, or baby chicken, is a great alternative if you don’t want to cook a whole chicken. Most butchers have it these days (and can spatchcock it for you), although chicken drumsticks and thighs would be an alternative. We marinate the poussin with sumac and olive oil and then drizzle a bit of pomegranate molasses over the bird once it’s cooked. This adds a wonderful sharpness to the smoky grilled meat.”

For the poussin
- 4 poussins, spatchcocked
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
- 4 thyme sprigs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
- 500g/1lb 2oz/3 cups cooked or tinned chickpeas
- 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- 2 pomegranates, deseeded
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200g/7oz rocket (arugula)
- juice of 1 lemon - 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

Dressing suggestion
Pomegranate dressing (see below).

Place the poussin in a large shallow bowl, add the remaining ingredients, except the salt, and turn the poussin until it is coated in the marinade. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2–6 hours.

Meanwhile, in another large bowl, mix the chickpeas, spring onions, pomegranate seeds and olive oil together. Set aside.

Take the poussins out the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat a chargrill pan, griddle pan or barbecue.

Once the poussins have come up to room temperature, place them skin-side down on the hot chargrill or barbecue. After a few minutes, gently begin to lift one of them from the surface: if it moves easily then shift them a little on the grill to brown more of the skin.

When the poussins are well browned on the skin-side, flip them over and either move them to a slightly cooler part of the grill or barbecue and cover with a large lid or put them in an ovenproof pan or dish and place in a hot oven, skin-side up. Cook for a further 8–10 minutes, or until the poussins are cooked through and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Remove the poussins from the heat, cover loosely with foil and leave them to rest for 5 minutes.

Add the rocket leaves to the rest of the salad ingredients, squeeze the lemon juice over and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and arrange the salad on serving plates.

Cut each bird into 4 pieces, first removing the legs then halving each of the remaining pieces through the centre of the breast. Place the pieces on top of the salad and drizzle some extra pomegranate molasses over the whole dish, then serve.

Pomegranate dressing
The sweet tang of pomegranate vinaigrette is an interesting accompaniment to both meat and fish.

- 4 tbsp olive oil
-50ml/2fl oz/scant ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt

Approx 4 servings

Whisk the olive oil and pomegranate molasses together in a bowl, then add the vinegar and whisk again. Add salt to taste.

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2) The catch of the day: Seared tuna fillet, cherry tomatoes, capers, red onion, basil and croutons

Davide and Kristina say: “The tomato salad here takes inspiration from a classic Italian dish called panzanella. It’s a Tuscan salad with tomato and bread and it’s a seasonal mainstay at our stall. We love it with red onion, capers and basil –it’s perfect with fresh tuna, but also good as a little side dish.”

- ½ loaf unsliced white bread
- 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 150g/5½oz cherry tomatoes
- 30g/1oz basil, chopped
- 1 tbsp small capers
- ½ red onion, very finely diced
- 30ml/1fl oz/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 red (bell) peppers
- 4 tuna fillets, about 200g/7oz each
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

Dressing suggestion
Basil and rocket pesto (see below)

First, make the panzanella. Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½. Stale bread is best for making croutons. Cut the bread into roughly 1cm/ ½in cubes and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the bread is completely dry. Remove from the oven and drizzle the croutons with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and leave to cool.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and put them in a large bowl with the croutons, basil, capers and red onion. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil, mix well, add the sea salt and set aside. The tomatoes need time to macerate and the croutons need to soak up a good deal of the liquid.

Preheat the grill to high. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cook, skin-side up, under the hot grill for about 15 minutes until they char and soften. Most of the skin will lift away from the peppers, so discard the bits that are easy to remove, but leaving a little gives a nice smoky edge to the flavour. Cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush with a little vegetable oil. Place them into the hot pan and sear each side for about 40 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t be tempted to add extra oil to the pan as they will be too difficult to handle and will overcook. When cooked, remove and cut into 5mm/¼ in slices, then arrange on plates with the panzanella and peppers.

Basil and rocket pesto
- 20g/¾oz/2 tbsp pine nuts
- 30g/1oz rocket (arugula)
- 30g/1oz basil
- 30g/1oz/2 tbsp parmesan, grated
- 1 garlic clove
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Approx 4 servings

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a low heat for 5–10 minutes, turning the nuts frequently until they are golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

Chop all the dry ingredients very finely, including the toasted pine nuts, then place in a bowl and mix together with the olive oil.
Grate in the parmesan and season to taste.

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3) The vegetarian option: Warm goat’s cheese, lentils, pear, sultanas and chicory

Davide and Kristina say: “This is a great vegetarian winter salad. There are many varieties of goat’s cheese, but when baking it in the oven this way, the best one to use is a chèvre type, as it has a rind around it holding it together. Always make sure that your oven is fully preheated before putting the cheese in so that it gets good colour quickly and doesn’t melt completely.”

- 400g/14oz puy lentils
- 400g/14oz cups firm goat’s cheese
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ripe pears
- 60g/2¼oz sultanas (golden raisins)
- 1 bulb chicory
- few flat-leaf parsley leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

Dressing suggestion
Classic French vinaigrette (see below)

Put the lentils in a large pan, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until they are just soft. Drain and rinse under hot running water.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Keep the goat’s cheese rounds whole, or if using a large round to share, cut the goat’s cheese into 1cm/ ½ in slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and add a twist of black pepper then cook under the grill for 5–8 minutes until browned.

Cut each pear lengthways into 8 pieces, removing the core from each piece as you go.

Roughly chop the chicory, discarding the dense part at the root end and place in a bowl with all the ingredients except the cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil over and mix well.

Arrange the salad on serving plates with the warm goat’s cheese on top.

Classic french vinaigrette
- 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup groundnut (peanut) oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 50ml/2fl oz/scant ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup olive oil
- salt and black pepper

Approx 4 servings

Slowly whisk the groundnut oil into the mustard until it is a thick emulsion.

Whisk in the vinegar, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is all used. Whisk in 50ml/2fl oz/scant ¼ cup water and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipes and images from Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups by Davide Del Gatto & Kristina Gustafsson, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£16.99).

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