Last week I received a copy of a new cookbook to review; Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups by Davide Del Gatto & Kristina Gustafsson. I absolutely had to say yes to reviewing this one as salads are my favourite thing in the world to create and eat; I was really excited to receive a new source of recipe inspiration!
Yep guys, I am a total salad addict. Colourful, nutritious and generally incredibly easy to throw together, when you make a good one it’s just one of the best things to eat. And as you’re feeding your body all those beautiful nutrients you know your insides are thanking you, too.
The word “salad” though has quite a broad meaning; for all too many people I think it just conjures up images of some tossed iceberg lettuce and maybe a cherry tomato or two. These sorts of sad salad thoughts mean that some people still feel reluctant to order a salad as a main meal, because they’re sitting there thinking, “but… how on earth is a salad going to be a whole – let alone a delicious – meal?”
Which is why cool books like Savage Salads are such a great contribution to the cookbook world. This book is definitely here to show you that salads can be big, tasty and satisfying, even if you’re more of a steak-and-chips kind of person. (If you are, I suggest going straight to the pork and potato salad recipe in the book when you buy it. The lamb and sweet potato number is also going to be perfect for you!)
Savage Salads was (and still is) initially a market stall that pops up for lunch at Berwick Street Market Soho, London (weekdays). The creation of Kristina Gustaffson, a Swedish former restaurant manager and avid foodie, and Italian chef Davide del Gatto, this hip stall frequently sports an enormous queue of hungry customers, all waiting to grab their delicious takeaway box of salady goodness. With the stall doing so incredibly well, Kristina and Davide decided to compile some of their most tantalising salad ideas into a book so more people can enjoy a Savage Salads experience, on repeat.
The Savage Salads cookbook is divided up by the seasons, reflecting the natural inclination we have to vary the type of salad we like to eat depending on the weather; in summertime you might like something crisp with crunchy raw veggies, whereas in the cooler months some nicely roasted or grilled vegetables form the base of a heartier, more grounding meal. The seasonality of the chapters guides you toward produce that’s naturally more available at different times of year, too.
Though Kristina and Davide’s recipes have a nutritious slant, a number of the salads in the cookbook make a very fulsome meal. As with their stall, the authors have included a number of hearty (but healthy) salads. These have quite a nicely balanced macronutrient profile and incorporate healthy fats (avocado, olive oil and/or cheese), carbohydrates (whole grains, root vegetables) and decent-sized serves of protein (animal and plant-based options). There are also lighter options that could work as a base or side dish. One thing which particularly struck me was the emphasis on natural ingredients, and very little sugar. Even the dressings section is built mainly upon good fats, herbs and zesty products like mustard to bring flavour to your meal.
Savage Salads reflects the creators’ belief that salads are for everyone – men or women, office workers or gym junkies, veggie or more carnivorous types. Indeed, this was also one of the key motivations behind setting up the market stall; after perusing their local food market, Kristina and Davide realised there was a lack of healthy, interesting and filling food options available. With their combined culinary backgrounds, they knew they had the ability to offer punchy and powerful salads; something more than mixed leaves.
This cookbook is a lovely way to encourage yourself and/or someone else to experiment and explore new flavour combinations in food, and at the same time increase the amount of whole foods that you include in your diet (especially vegetables!). Savage Salads is a beautiful compilation of some really innovative salad ideas with lots of colour, flavour and a bit of fun. Out of the recipes I’ve tried, all have been quite simple to execute, and I’ve now stocked up on some extra salad dressing for future meals, too!
To finish off this post I’m lucky to be able to share one of Kristina and Davide’s tasty summer salads with you on here, so you can get a little taste of the goodness you’ll find inside Savage Salads. A lightly seared tuna fillet topped with tangy tomato salad with crunchy croutons… yum! You will love this. I very recently made it for dinner using gluten-free bread and it was a HUGE hit at my place (my picture is at the top of this blog post). Grab the recipe for yourself below!
Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups by Davide Del Gatto & Kristina Gustafsson is out now.
Seared Tuna Fillet, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Red Onion, Basil, Croutons
The tomato salad here takes inspiration from a classic Italian dish called panzanella. It’s a Tuscan salad with tomato and bread and it’s a seasonal mainstay at our stall. We love it with red onion, capers and basil – it’s perfect with fresh tuna, but also good as a little side dish.
- ½ loaf unsliced white bread
- 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 150g/5½oz cherry tomatoes
- 30g/1oz basil, chopped
- 1 tbsp small capers
- ½ red onion, very finely diced
- 30ml/1fl oz/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 red (bell) peppers
- 4 tuna fillets, about 200g/7oz each
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First, make the panzanella. Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½ Stale bread is best for making croutons. Cut the bread into roughly 1cm/ ½in cubes and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the bread is completely dry. Remove from the oven and drizzle the croutons with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and leave to cool.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes and put them in a large bowl with the croutons, basil, capers and red onion. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil, mix well, add the sea salt and set aside. The tomatoes need time to macerate and the croutons need to soak up a good deal of the liquid.
- Preheat the grill to high. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cook, skin-side up, under the hot grill for about 15 minutes until they char and soften. Most of the skin will lift away from the peppers, so discard the bits that are easy to remove, but leaving a little gives a nice smoky edge to the flavour. Cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush with a little vegetable oil. Place them into the hot pan and sear each side for about 40 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t be tempted to add extra oil to the pan as they will be too difficult to handle and will overcook. When cooked, remove and cut into 5mm/¼ in slices, then arrange on plates with the panzanella and peppers.
Dressing suggestion – Basil and Rocket Pesto
- 20g/¾oz/2 tbsp pine nuts
- 30g/1oz rocket (arugula)
- 30g/1oz basil
- 30g/1oz/2 tbsp parmesan, grated
- 1 garlic clove
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Approx 4 servings
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a low heat for 5–10 minutes, turning the nuts frequently until they are golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Chop all the dry ingredients very finely, including the toasted pine nuts, then place in a bowl and mix together with the olive oil.
- Grate in the parmesan and season to taste.
*Recipes and professional images have been reproduced with permission and are excerpted from Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups by Davide Del Gatto & Kristina Gustafsson, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln.
*I received a free copy of the Savage Salads cookbook to review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed in this article are my own.