Being the quintessential outdoorsy types, Australians certainly love a good salad, and we’re more than willing, thanks to the massive, multicultural hotpot we brew ourselves in, to sample recipe ideas from near and far, incorporating a little bit of many cultures into our salad mix, and tossing lightly with our own creative culinary additions.
Salade typifies that multicultural, delicately-tossed blend beautifully, with its rich array of salads containing more variety than a French fromagerie.
This beautifully-styled, snow white, tomato-stamped book is the second from critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur, Damien Pignolet. His first, award-winning book, French, was published in 2005, and this second book is another fine example of the innate talent of a man impassioned by his craft.
Opening with a glossary of lettuces and other salad leaves, accompanied by simply yet beautiful-styled photographs, the book first takes us through salades composées or ‘composed salads’ – those salads which can almost stand alone as a meal within themselves.
The variety on offer is delectably intense from Raw Cauliflower Salad with Coddled Eggs and Watercress to Broccoli, Fennel and Orange Salad with Pistachio Nut Vinaigrette, and White Asparagus Salad with Egg Mimosa and Toasted Flaked Almonds.
If these sound a little complicated to you and your humble kitchenette, there’s also a Salad of Grilled Vegetables Provençale, Smoked Turkey Salad and Broad Beans on Toast, all with that delicately balanced, creative zing. The Turkey Salad, for example, also features apple, pecans and celeriac – I can feel the tender crunch now.
Salades classiques is next on the menu with the divine Waldorf, Salad Niçoise, Coleslaw with a Twist. There’s even The Very Best Tomato and Mozzarella Salad by guest chef Steve Manfredi.
I particularly love Pignolet’s petits mots – his comments before each recipe that add such depth and flavour to each one. Sometimes a history lesson, sometimes tips, advice and suggestions for accompaniments (or should I say mains?), they really add a unique element to the book that cookbook readers will enjoy, and novice chefs will take to heart. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a teensy peek at the inner brain machinations of a master chef?
For Salades en plat principal (main salads), we see the addition of much more meat, making for heartier dishes overall. There’s a rustic Corn Beef Salad, a Barbecue Rib of Beef Salad and a Duck Salade Chinoise, just to name a few. Seafood lovers will delight in the use of mussels, tuna, squid, crab, prawns and scallops, both here and in ensuing chapters.
Adding to the complex variety of recipes, Pignolet also treats us to salades d’accompagnement (salads on the side), salades de fête (special occasion salads), salades tièdes (warm salads), salades d’hiver (winter salads) and yes, yes – it’s there – salades sucrées (sweet salads). Papaya, Blood Orange and Strawberry Salad, anyone? How about Fig and Honeydew Melon Salad with Crushed Amaretti? or a Dried Citrus Fruit Salad?
Ingredients in this lustrous book run the gamut from wild rice to chick peas, quail eggs, bread and roe. There’s barely a lettuce leaf left unwashed and unturned. For those with a taste for salads that run well beyond the green or red-white-and-basil, this is well worth adding to your groaning gastronomique shelf.
Guest chefs in Saladesinclude Kylie Kwong, Stephanie Puharich, Sean Moran, Neil Perry and Alex Herbert.