DAVID WOODS: Spice up winter with a salad that keeps on giving

Spicy Vietnamese Style Salad with grilled Paneer
Spicy Vietnamese Style Salad with grilled Paneer

If the winter blues have struck and you’re feeling a little gloomy, then this will perk you up.

It’s the ‘popping candy’ of salads and guaranteed to lift the spirits, says David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick.

David Woods

David Woods

Salads tend to get overlooked in winter, which is a shame as it’s not all about tomatoes and lettuce.

There are so many vegetables available that are as delicious eaten cold as they are hot.

We have several robust salads on our new Urban Café menu and the favourite with customers so far is the Spicy Vietnamese Style Salad with Fried Paneer – a mild, milky fresh cheese that goes beautifully with strong flavours. This is a delicious lunch or light supper for vegetarians, but we have also served it topped with curried fish, and it goes great with cold meats. Keep this recipe for Christmas as I can’t think of anything nicer to serve with leftover turkey.

The ingredients go a long way, so a small amount of each vegetable makes a huge bowl of salad, and the flavour combination is awesome. One spoonful gives different flavours and textures with every chew – one minute you get a hint of coriander and a crunch of carrot, the next a little kick of chilli, and then an aromatic aftertaste of sesame oil. It’s a salad that keeps on giving.

La Brasserie, Sofitel’s 2 AA rosette restaurant, and its Urban Cafe have a new look and a new menu. To book a table call 01293 567070 or email SLG@sofitelgatwick.com. Follow us on Twitter @SofitelLondonGA. Share your salad recipes with us on Instagram by tagging @SofitelLondonGA.

Spicy Vietnamese Style Salad with grilled Paneer

Serves 4

400g paneer cheese

Soya oil for frying

Half a Chinese leaf cabbage

1 carrot

Quarter of a small white cabbage

1 stick celery

1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper (you will only need a quarter of each)

1 red chilli

Half a bunch of spring onions

Half a red onion

half a white onion

Three tablespoons of salted roasted cashew nuts

Handful of torn fresh coriander leaves

For the dressing

Zest of two limes, and juice from one

2 dessertspoons caster sugar

25ml sesame oil

25ml rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Prepare the vegetables – shred the Chinese leaf and white cabbage.

Peel the carrot and slice into thin batons. De-seed the peppers and red chilli, and slice thinly. Dice the red and white onions. Slice the white and green parts of the spring onions. Slice the celery finely.

Put dressing ingredients into a screwed topped jar and give it a good shake.

Cube the paneer cheese. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the paneer until golden.

When you are ready to eat, put all the prepared vegetables into a large bowl. Add the cashew nuts and torn coriander leaves and toss thoroughly. Heap the salad into four bowls and top with the fried paneer. Serve immediately.

Chef’s tip

All the vegetables can be prepared the day before. Don’t add salt or the dressing until just before serving, or the salad will go soggy.

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