Serve up a plate of natural goodness

    Bring a little summer sunshine to your plate courtesy of a winter salad, says Times food writer and Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market manager Bruce McMichael

    Winter dishes are supposed to beWinter dishes are supposed to behot, wholesome and nourishingwith little in common with thelight, green leafy salads ofsummer.

    Well, oranges andlemons are at their zesty, juicy best and whencombined with sautéed Brussels sprouts, roastedbeetroots or crumbled goats cheese it’s possibleto brighten up even the most unloved vegetablesand create delicious, and yes, warming,nutritious alads.

    So it’s time to rethinkwinter salads.Blood oranges, lemons, tangerines full of juiceand vitamin C and can pump up our taste budsand battle the flu by giving a zinging boost toour winter meals. Combined with shredded,sliced and chopped winter fruit and veg, citrusfruit is just one ingredient that offers the perfectbuilding blocks for a seasonal salad, all healthyand hearty.Winter salads are great as a cold side dish or awarming main meal. When mixed with fresh,earthy vegetables and salads available fromfarmers’ markets or farm shops, these seasonal Mediterranean culinary jewels give us amuch-needed reshness on our plates.Mingle with freshly sliced red onion, tartapples or, perhaps add chopped olives, somenuts or seeds to add crunch creating a vibrantplate of tempting colour and texture andsprinkle herbs and spices to add extra layers offlavour to your plate.

    Bitter leafs such as chicory, radicchio andTreviso are in season and when pared withcooked ingredients such as a roast pumpkin orsweet potato, sweet-griddled scallops, slivers ofpears or a touch of Kent honey are both tastyand healthy.Many of the vegetables in season at this time of year are delicious and nutritious, but can look a
    bit drab, and cold.

    But with more and more people opting for vegetarian and vegan food, chefs and home cooks are choosing to add winter salads and veg to their repertoire. It’s easy to spice up salads.

    Use, for example, a bowl of couscous with lightly sautéed garlic flavoured tomatoes, slices of courgettes or little chunks of aubergine with a side dish of some preserved lemons for added zest and a taste of North Africa. Warmed Brussels sprouts with pear
    and a sprinkle of plump raisins is another comforting winter salad.

    Oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes all complement winter salads made with seasonal
    vegetables including the knobbly, underrated celeriac, vibrant beetroot or the ever-popular carrot. Look out for purple carrots in the shops, offering an intensely sweet, sometimes peppery flavour.

    Winter salads often need a bit of spice and heat to lift them onto a home cook’s winter repertoire.

    Now try making a winter salad at home…

    (Serves 4)
    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Cooking time: 35 minutes
    30ml/2tbsp olive oil
    450g/1lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
    450g/1lb turkey fillets, sliced
    2 orange peppers, deseeded and sliced
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    2.5cm/1in piece root ginger, grated
    zest and juice 1 orange
    30ml/2 tbsp soy sauce
    15ml/1 tbsp honey
    1 (145g) bag watercress, spinach and
    rocket leaves
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas
    Mark 7. Place the oil, sweet potatoes, turkey
    and peppers in a large roasting tin and toss
    together. Roast for 20mins.
    2 Add the garlic and ginger to the turkey and
    vegetables and roast for a further 15mins or
    until the turkey is golden and the potatoes
    3 Add the orange zest and juice, soy and
    honey and mix well. Cool slightly.
    Season to taste. Empty the salad leaves into
    a large bowl, add the turkey mixture and lightly
    toss. Serve straight away.