Activity of the Day: Salad Saviour! (OK, it's really a recipe, or at least ingredient prep)
That feeling of gloom when all the salads you had growing suddenly bolt and go from delicious tender leaves to aphid-covered leathery monstrosities? (To be fair, the tender leaves may have been a bit aphid covered here this year, as well)- Gloom no more! Here is a great way to save and cook huge amounts of stronger tasting overgrown leaves - here, it's even succeeded in getting more green food substances into the kids without grumps and whining!
You will need
Old salad leaves or any other edible leaves (this is a great method to use with excess basil, coriander, parsley or other soft herbs- not so much for harder herbs like rosemary or bay which are better dried- post coming soon...).
A big bowl
Lots of water
Trays and bags or tubs for freezing
A pen for labelling the bags or tubs
When removing old salad plants (or, if leaving them for seed, stripping off leaves to let other plants get more light), quickly remove all the nice looking leaves.
Put the leaves in a big bowl or washing up bowl with lots of water.
Swoosh them around gently to dislodge insects (this is genuinely what happens at salad farms- only with machinery rather than your hands). This is a great job for kids- it's soggy, messy and doesn't have any big consequences if they do it badly or take hours doing it...
Lift the salad out of the bowl, leaving most of the insects behind, then tip the water on something that will appreciate it.
Repeat the last three steps until the water isn't full of aphids (or slugs) when you lift the salad out. Give the leaves a quick check over to make sure any little friends aren't still hiding- if it looks OK, you're done with washing the leaves!
Shake most of the water off the leaves and spread them on trays if you can- this just helps you keep the leaves fairly separate as they freeze and avoids ending up with one giant salad ice cube.
Freeze until leaves shatter if squeezed (overnight).
Quickly scrape the leaves into tubs or bags, taking care that you don't warm them with your hands too much.
Scrunch the leaves quickly so they take up a minimum of your freezer space.
To use, simply tip frozen leaves into soup, casserole, stir fry or curry recipes- or omlettes, pilau.... Anywhere you'd use spinach or oriental veg like pak choi is a good bet to start off with. It's really quick, and no chopping required because the leaves have already been shattered!
A big favourite here is a miso-inspired soup with miso, soy sauce, spices, sweetcorn and noodles- I can add pretty much a whole big bag of salad, big thick stalks and all to the soup- more than any other ingredient- and it still gets eaten happily by 4 kids, who then request it's made again. This is not a normal reaction from these kids!
I do need to add a credit here: Thank you to my great (great?) grandma’s Mrs Beeton’s cookbook from about 1890, I think - without its recommendation of serving stewed lettuce with gravy I may never have come up with this salad use idea!