Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
In world where soi-disant health gurus saturate Instagram and devotees of ‘clean-eating’ make us feel guilty about carbs, the prospect of a salad-only recipe book could leave a bad taste in the mouth. However, the latest Caldesi book, Around the World in Salads, comes as something of a palate-cleanser. It is unashamedly health-focussed – Giancarlo suffered a health scare and now must follow a low-sugar, gluten-free diet – yet makes no bones about the fact that they still like to indulge 10% of the time.
This visually beautiful book is well-researched and brings together the very best salad recipes from around the globe to create a veritable Bible of fresh flavours and wholesome dishes. These aren’t your average salads though, and iceberg lettuce is banished from its pages; think Middle Eastern fattoush, packed with zingy mint, and roasted Florence fennel salad with pan-fried halloumi with a punchy orange dressing. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re bound to find something to satisfy. Craving Mexican flavours? Try the beef salad with a chilli-lime kick. Got a hankering for something sweet? You won’t go wrong with the fresh strawberry, pistachio and mint salad with rosewater and cream – a kind of revised Eton Mess.
Though all the dishes look impressive and are bound to be winners are a dinner party, they’re delightfully simple to put together and adapt. Christening my copy with crimson splatters of beetroot, I tested out the recipe for the substantial-looking beetroot patties with a creamy avocado sauce. I went from having a counter-top of assorted ingredients to a mouthwatering, filling meal in less than half an hour. My cupboards were sadly bereft of sesame seeds, so I substituted with chia seeds, resulting in a surprisingly successful crisp coating around the patties.
This is a volume that will convince even the most ardent salad-dodger to change their ways. The key is making the salad as interesting and packed with goodness as possible; Katie and Giancarlo believe that each salad must have ‘something crunchy, something chewy and something soft, then sweet, salty, spicy and sour’. This visually beautiful book should make an appearance on every kitchen worktop – gone will be the days of the sad bagged salad when you learn to love your leaves!