Last of the salad days

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Q: The current salad and courgette crisis caused by bad weather in the Mediterranean seems to be real, but I’m not prepared to fight frenzied shoppers for the last lettuce. Any alternative suggestions? CH Harrogate

Relax and simply use it as an excuse to go back in time to when we all, except for the vulgar and ignorant rich, ate a naturally seasonal diet.

We have over the last 50 years become generally corrupted by the availability of cheap summer vegetables all year round. We think nothing of making ratatouille in mid-December, but maybe it’s time we did.

Vegetables don’t vanish in winter; instead, different types of veg come into season. Our disconnection from these seasonal shifts in our diet has not been good for us. Nor is it good for the planet, as huge aircraft buzz around the world bringing us asparagus from Peru, and courgettes from Malaga.

It’s winter – so let us reconnect with our own, British, root vegetables, embrace our brassicas, and get to know our onions. Forget the courgettes and the asparagus until summer brings them back, we shall appreciate them all the more.

If you want a true winter salad, the much over-looked coleslaw (below) is a good place to start. Nick Welch


serves 2-4

  • 1 white cabbage heart, or half a white cabbage heart and half a red, finely shredded (you can  soak in cold water for a little while to crisp and freshen if desired)
  • 1-2 carrots, grated
  • half an onion, very finely sliced
  • For the dressing
  • 2-3 tblsp of creme fraiche or plain yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon (or a tblsp of white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teasp mustard
  • 1 teasp caraway seeds (opt)

To make the dressing: in a bowl, mix all the ingredients together, (tasting, and adjusting, as you go) season with salt and pepper. Put the shredded cabbage, carrot, onion into a larger bowl. Pour on the dressing and combine thoroughly, adding more dressing if necessary