Smoky honey horseradish, chilli-rose, miso-sesame, Sriracha crunchy nut: Best dressed salads for summer

Poached chicken and soba noodle salad with spicy nut dressing.
Poached chicken and soba noodle salad with spicy nut dressing. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Gone are the days when salad was simply about assemblage. Now these plates of mastery require cooking and skill. And part of that skill lies in the dressing, the quiet understated kitchen workhorse that turns a plate of vegetable matter into something else entirely. Something wondrous. Something that is both glorious to look at and to feast on.

Dressings are many things. They provide volume and colour. They can layer and build or be simple, robust and clean. Whatever their function, they are the fundamental component to the sensory largesse that comes with making and eating salad.

Note: All dressing recipes make approximately one to 1½ cups, leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks; each salad serves 4 to 6 as part of a shared meal.

Chunky nut Sriracha dressing with poached chicken and cold soba noodle salad

Note: For a vegetarian and vegan option simply omit the chicken.

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

½ cup raw peanuts

¼ cup raw cashews

Advertisement

2 limes zest and juice

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)

1 tbsp panela (rapadura) sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

For the salad

2 chicken breasts, poached and roughly shredded

400g buckwheat soba noodles

½ cup each coarsely chopped:

coriander

Vietnamese mint

Thai basil (plus flowers)

mint

red mustard leaves

½ large red onion, sliced on mandolin

micro herbs (optional) to serve

Method

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender and briefly pulse – you want to retain the nutty texture.

Cook noodles according to packet instructions. Refresh immediately under cold water then add to a bowl with the chicken then add about half a cup of the dressing, and massage into the noodles and chicken using your hands. You want the ingredients thoroughly coated and this salad is at its best when you evenly work the dressing through the noodles. Keep adding dressing until this coating is achieved.

Cover and place in the fridge to chill completely. Combine the remaining salad ingredients in a bowl then incorporate the noodles before serving. To serve, scatter with micro herbs (if available).

Salad dressing recipes for Good Food online. Cayenne and rosewater dressing with beetroot, feta and orange salad. Please credit Katrina Meynink

Photo: Katrina Meynink

Cayenne and rosewater dressing with beetroot, feta and orange salad

INGREDIENTS

For the salad

4 beetroot, peeled and shredded (use a grater if you don't have a food processor)

2 oranges, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 cup mint leaves, coarsely torn

½ cup Persian-style (soft) feta

For the dressing

½ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

3 tbsp rosewater

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

½ cup grapeseed oil

1 tbsp dried edible rose petals

1 tbsp rapadura (panela) sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

METHOD

Add all the salad ingredients to a serving bowl and using your hands, gently toss to combine – you don't want the beetroot colour to bleed all over the orange and feta.

Drizzle over the dressing, just enough to coat, toss gently, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Salad dressing recipes for Good Food online. Smoked honey and horseradish dressing with roasted cauliflower, manchego and smoked almond salad. Please credit Katrina Meynink

Photo: Katrina Meynink

Smoked honey and horseradish dressing with roasted cauliflower, manchego and smoked almond salad

For the dressing

2 tbsp smoked honey (or 2 tbsp honey and ¼ to ½ tsp liquid smoke, depending on strength)

1 tbsp horseradish cream (or one heaped tbsp freshly grated horseradish)

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

½ cup olive oil

salt and pepper

For the salad

½ head of cauliflower broken into florets

½ tbsp. olive oil

arils of ½ pomegranate

½ red onion, finely sliced

½ cup finely sliced manchego (tip: use a peeler)

½ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped

¼ cup chervil leaves, chopped

¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1½ cups red-vein sorrel leaves, rinsed and coarsely torn

METHOD

Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside for the honey to blend and emulsify with the other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place the cauliflower florets in a roasting tray, coat with the oil then roast in the oven until cooked through and lightly golden, about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool before adding to a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the freshly chopped herbs, and using your hands, toss to combine.

Drizzle over enough dressing to coat and toss gently to combine before turning onto a platter and serving immediately.

Salad dressing recipes for Good Food online. Ginger, miso and sesame dressing with roast pumpkin, wild rice and edamame salad. Please credit Katrina Meynink

Photo: Katrina Meynink

Ginger, miso and sesame dressing with roast pumpkin, wild rice and edamame salad

INGREDIENTS

For the ginger, miso and sesame dressing

3 tbsp white miso

1½ tbsp blackstrap molasses

⅓ cup tahini

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger

For the salad

3 cups of jap pumpkin cut into large bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp rice bran oil

1 cup edamame beans, cooked according to packet instructions and podded

50g wild rice, cooked according to packet instructions

½ cup coriander leaves, chopped

½ cup assorted micro herbs, to serve (optional)

METHOD

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add a dash of water if the mixture is too thick. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (the dressing will keep for up to 10 days).

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the pumpkin in a roasting tray, coat with the oil and roast in the oven until cooked through and lightly golden, about 30 minutes. You want the pieces to retain some shape.

Allow to cool before adding to a bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle over enough dressing to generously coat and toss to combine. Serve immediately.