Anna Jones’ recipes for two raw vegetable salads | The modern cook (2024)

For a few weeks a year, when my body craves cooling food, lunches and dinners are built around interesting salads, raw vegetables and simple plates of fruit. It’s not how I eat all year – in fact, if you tried to persuade me to eat a raw vegetable for dinner in the dead of winter you’d have quite a battle on your hands. But, come summer, I try and make use of vegetables that we are more familiar with eating when cooked, putting them to work in new ways. They don’t require a hob to be lit, but will satisfy my cravings for flavour and refreshing, colourful food. Cooking in this way means almost instant gratification and uses simple and cheap favourites; here, cauliflower, carrots and late summer fruits.

The key with eating veg raw is how it is prepared. Cutting wispy, cool, paper-thin fronds of fennel or delicately grating carrot will have an impact on how the vegetable tastes – these little pieces will have a more subtle flavour and texture, and better ability to absorb a dressing. If your knife skills aren’t up to wafers of veg, then a mandolin or a speed peeler will come in handy.

Eating raw food has been well documented, has a devoted following and some pretty convincing benefits, but, for me, it’s only really this time of year to which it feels suited. I cook this way based on the mood of the day rather than the need to eat a certain way, though, I have to confess, it does leave me feeling great. You don’t have to be too strict though, some toasted seeds and nuts, chickpeas or a flatbread taste great with these salads.

Anna Jones’ recipes for simple salads with complex flavours | The modern cookRead more

I’ve also included a quick guide on how to sprout seeds and pulses. Soaking and sprouting replicates germination, which activates and multiplies nutrients, making sprouts one of the most alive foods there is. If sprouting is a bridge too far for you, then you can buy them in good greengrocers, and some supermarkets too.

Carrot and mustard seed salad

I ate this simple salad almost every day in southern India. The sprouted mung beans add a refreshing crunch. There is a quick guide on sprouting your own seeds and pulses at home below.

Serves 4
50g (a small handful) unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
200g carrots
4 big handfuls of spinach
50g sprouted mung beans
A small thumb of grated ginger
The juice of ½ a lemon
A handful of cashew nuts, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
A small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

1 Soak the coconut in about 100ml of boiling water.

2 Meanwhile, make your dressing. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle and pop. Lower the heat, add the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds, then take off the heat and pour the mixture into a small bowl to cool.

3 Peel, wash and grate the carrots into ribbons with a speed peeler, then put into a big serving bowl. Wash and dry the spinach, then add this too, along with the mung beans. Drain the coconut well and add this, too.

4 Grate the ginger into the cooled oil and mustard seeds, squeeze in the lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle the mix over the carrots and spinach, then finish with the chopped coriander and cashews.

Raw cauliflower salad

Raw cauliflower has a pleasingly creamy crunch, here it has been offset by bright radishes and anise notes from dill or tarragon. I often make this with coconut yoghurt, which works well too.

Serves 4
1 cucumber, seeded, cut into small pieces
1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into tiny florets or finely sliced
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 green chillies, deseeded, thinly sliced
100g skin-on almonds
A small bunch of dill or tarragon, roughly chopped
A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

For the dressing
200g Greek yoghurt
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
The juice of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Salt and black pepper

1 First, make the yoghurt dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.

2 Mix all the remaining ingredients together with the dressing and let it all stand for 15 minutes, so the flavours can mingle together and the cauliflower softens slightly.

3 Transfer the salad to a serving platter and top with the almonds.

Late-summer fruits with lime leaves

The lime leaves, lemongrass and citrus make a dressing for the fruit salad here as you might any other salad.

Anna Jones’ recipes for two raw vegetable salads | The modern cook (1)

Serves 4
A stalk of lemongrass
4 lime leaves
A pinch of sea salt
The juice of a lemon
The juice and zest of a lime
2 tbsp honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
20 mint leaves, very finely chopped
Fruit (I used a mixture of white peaches, nectarines, yellow plums and blackberries)

1 First, remove the hard outer leaves of the lemongrass to expose the tender inner bit. Discard the outer leaves, then chop the inner portion very finely. Chop the lime leaves finely, too. Use a pestle and mortar to pound the chopped lemongrass and the lime leaves with the salt – bash well until everything is fine.

2 Whisk together the citrus juice and zest with the honey, vanilla seeds and the lime-lemongrass mixture. Set aside.

3 Cut the fruit into pretty, bite-sized pieces and lay it all in a large bowl or on a platter. Drizzle with about half of the dressing. Give it a taste and keep adding until it tastes just right. You could serve this with a little creme fraiche, coconut yoghurt or thick Greek yoghurt, if you like. For a bit of crunch, some chopped toasted nuts or coconut would make a nice addition.

Easy sprouting at home

Soak Put 2-4 tbsp dried pulses, grains or seeds (see the list below) in a large, wide-mouthed jar. Cover the top with a bit of muslin or a thin tea towel and secure with rubber band. Fill with cold water, then swirl around to wash and drain well. Cover with room temperature water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Never fill the jar more then 1/3 with the dry seeds as they grow as they soak and sprout.

Drain Drain the water from your sprouts by inverting the jar at an angle in the sink or on a plate. Transfer to a cool place and leave to do their thing.

Rinse Rinse your sprouts twice a day with cold water then drain well as above.

Ready? When the little shoots that have grown from your sprouts are about 1-2cm long they are ready to eat. This will take 1-3 days, depending on the seed or pulse you choose and the weather.

Store Rinse once more in cold water, then pop the lid on the jar and put in the fridge, they will last for 4-5 days.

What can I sprout? Dried Lentils, dried chickpeas, dried mung beans, alfalfa seeds, mustard seeds, radish seeds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, wild rice. The vegetarian times has a useful table on soaking times for each of these, if you want to be precise.

  • Anna Jones is a chef, writer and author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook (Fourth Estate);; @we_are_food
Anna Jones’ recipes for two raw vegetable salads | The modern cook (2024)
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