“My salad days, when I was green in judgement’
When Freddie was little he was invited to a birthday party at an extremely smart house. The child who lived there had not one but two nannies. Caterers had been brought in to celebrate his fourth birthday party. There were no sausage rolls, no chips, no jelly or sweets. Instead the mother looked on as tables of small children were served with salads and what can only be described as canapés for infants. The mothers and nannies became competitive.
“Come on now Peter, you know you like tomatoes.”
“Lucinda, try those lovely asparagus tips.”
Most of the kids went on strike. Some of them crawled under the table and started fighting. Even the birthday child refused to play ball. They held out until the cake arrived and then fell on it like vultures.
It has taken 5 more years to entice Freddie to eat a salad. I experimented with ingredients and dressings. After months of intensive research, we have stumbled on a successful formula; give complete control to the child and make the salad bowl edible. This is the ultimate do-it-yourself salad. Alex called the final product, made from tortilla wraps, ‘Salad Shells’.
This lifted the humble salad from being simply a side dish and turned it into something that Freddie awarded an astonishing 9 out of 10.
1. Make your tortilla salad shell
Metal tortilla bowl bakers or ovenproof glass bowl
Cooking spray oil
Medium sized tortilla wraps
I found a specialist tortilla bowl maker in TK Max. These are simply flat-bottomed non-stick metal shells. If you can’t get hold of one, try using an ovenproof glass bowl with a flat bottom. If you are using a tortilla shell baker, spray the inside of the shell pans lightly with cooking oil spray. Place a tortilla in each shell pan, smoothing it to make it fit the shape of the pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes at 180C. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. If you are using an ovenproof bowl, lightly spray both sides of the tortilla and smooth with a kitchen towel. Take the tortilla and drape evenly over an upturned ovenproof bowl, place it on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 190C for between 6 and 8 minutes.
2. Pick your own salad shell fillings - some ideas for you to try out.
· Chose your favourite salad leaves. Wash them and make sure they are thoroughly dry. You don’t want the tortilla bowl to become soggy when filled with a salad.
· Take fresh or frozen edamame beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok with half a teaspoon of mild chilli powder. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
· Take chopped asparagus tips. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok with a tablespoon of sesame seeds. Add the asparagus and stir fry for 1 -2 minutes.
· Wash 250g of baby corn. Place them in boiling water or steam for 2 mins.
· 1 red or yellow pepper. Halve and deseed. Cut into strips and stir fry with a chopped garlic clove for 2 minutes in olive oil. Or you can offer them raw- but make sure they are very thinly sliced.
· Small new potatoes. Boil them till they are just soft. Cut them in half. Add a little knob of butter and some chopped fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper
· Button mushrooms. Wash and dry and chop in half.
· Grated carrot and celeriac, mixed together. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to stop the celeriac from going brown.
· Chose whatever selection of vegetables your family enjoys.
· Roast chicken breast, cut into strips.
· Stir fry strips of beef fillet
· Crispy streaky bacon
· Any hard cheese, grated; Emmental, Cheddar, Gruyère.
· Mixed seeds like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin or raisins to sprinkle.
Offer a bowl of couscous or quinoa. Quinoa is a tasty alternative to rice and takes less time to prepare. The Incas used to refer to it as the mother of all grains.
· Provide a choice of shop-bought or home made dressings. Don't use too much or the tortilla shell will become soggy. Here is one of our favourite dressings..
· Yoghurt and herb dressing. Beat 250g plain smooth ( not set) yoghurt with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of chopped basil leaves and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh mint.
Now because we think you might enjoy eating salad shells, try it out and email us an image of your salad creations and we will create a slide show.....