Don't be intimidated by the number of elements in this recipe. It can be shaped to contain as many or as few vegetables as you wish. It can also be easily adapted to suit whatever vegetables happen to be in season. The dressing can even be used to dress a few leaves for a simple fresh salad.
24 butter beans
12 ears of baby corn
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
250g piece of roasted pumpkin
1 sheet of nori, crushed into small pieces*
1 head of redlof (red witlof), broken into individual leaves
1 butter or oakleaf lettuce
6 small sorrel or rocket leaves
6 shiso leaves, shredded
1 packet shaved kombu*
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) for cooking
1 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
1½ tbsp water
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 shiso leaf, chopped
1 tsp chopped candied kelp*, optional
1. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients together in a bowl, whisk and set aside.
2. To prepare the vegetables, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the beans and baby corn and plunge into plenty of ice water. I like the vegetables to be crunchy for this salad so I usually only blanch the bean and corn for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Cut the zucchini into one centimetre thick slices and saute in a hot pan with one teaspoon grapeseed oil for about two minutes. Remove from the pan, wipe clean and add another teaspoon of grapeseed oil. Gently saute the shiitake mushrooms and when cooked, place the mushrooms in a small bowl and marinate in one teaspoon light soy sauce or ponzu sauce.
4. Meanwhile, cut the kohlrabi into thick batons. Leave the vegetables at room temperature if you plan on serving the salad right away. Otherwise store the prepared vegetables in the fridge.
5. To assemble the salad, cut the roast pumpkin into six pieces. Place all the vegetables (except the leaves) into a mixing bowl and dress with two tablespoons of salad dressing. Add half the crushed nori and half the shredded shiso. Toss the vegetables gently and season the vegetables with a little salt and leave to marinate for five minutes.
6. To serve, divide the vegetables evenly among six plates, arranging them so you can see each item slightly overlapping.
7. To finish the salad, use the same mixing bowl to dress the remaining leaves, shiso and nori. Dress the leaves with two tablespoons of dressing. As you place the leaves on each plate, gently shake them to remove any excess dressing. The leaves should only be lightly dressed.
8. Carefully arrange and stack the leaves on and around the dressed vegetables. To finish the salad, tear the shaved kombu and scatter over the salad. Finally, sprinkle the toasted sunflowers seeds over each salad and serve immediately.
*Candied kelp, nori and shaved kombu are available from Japanese grocery stores.