Winter salads - Annie Stirk's recipes

PUBLISHED: 19:34 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:39 20 February 2013

Warm watercress salad with black pudding and apple

Warm watercress salad with black pudding and apple

Discover how to make the most of winter leaves, beans and seeds and boost your energy with our food and wine consultant Annie Stirk PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY BULMER

Looking ahead to the New Year and top of the agenda for many of us will be healthy eating; so I thought a collection of fresh, light, tasty winter salads would really fit the bill. The lovely salads in this month's master class are an interesting combination of winter leaves, pulses and sprouting beans and seeds, perfect for giving a much needed boost to energy levels.

At this time of year look out for dark green leaves such as spinach and watercress, which are highly nutritious and rich in folate and beta-carotene - great for the immune system. Additionally, peppery rocket, nutty lambs' lettuce, radicchio (a type of chicory) and Chinese leaves provide a variety of textures and flavours which are especially good as a base for warm salads.

But if you don't fancy a light leafy salad, pulses such as beans, peas and lentils are much more substantial and a great source of energy and fibre. I have enjoyed experimenting with the interesting sprouting varieties used in these recipes, such as adzuki beans, chick peas, lentils and mung beans, as well as seeds such as alfalfa.

Sprouting beans, peas and seeds are highly nutritious and exceptionally rich in most of the elements of a healthy diet. All the salads are great served as starters, main courses, accompaniments or as a snack if you are dieting and the hunger pangs are getting the better of you. So perk up your palate - and have a very healthy and happy New Year.


Peppery locally grown watercress from Pickering is the star in this classic warm salad.

Serves 4 as a starter


Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely sliced

2 medium red apples (skin on), cored and sliced

6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 rashers back or middle bacon, cut into strips

100g good-quality black pudding, sliced then diced into 1cm cubes

2 bunches of fresh watercress

Handful of rocket leaves

Sea salt flakes & coarsely ground black pepper

For the Parsley Dressing:

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine/cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Coarse sea salt & pepper


I find it easier to have two small frying pans on the go for this delicious recipe.

Heat one of the small frying pans over a medium heat.

Add a little oil, followed by the finely chopped garlic and sliced red onion.

Saut until softened and then add the sliced red apple followed by the cherry tomatoes.

Season with sea salt flakes and coarsely ground black pepper.

Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the second pan, add a little oil and add the strips of bacon.

Cook briskly until crispy.

Remove from the pan, drain on kitchen paper.

Next, add the diced black pudding and saut until crispy.

Place the watercress and rocket in a large bowl and toss together.

Next, add all the sauted ingredients to the salad leaves, including the drained bacon.

Toss everything together really well.

Drizzle with a little of the dressing to taste.

Serve immediately.

For the dressing - place all the ingredients in a jam jar, with a tightly fitting lid and shake really well to combine - alternatively, place everything in a mixing bowl and whisk together.


Do search out a good black pudding from a local producer.

Good sources are local farm shops and delicatessens, or your local butcher.

Black Pudding can be quite crumbly to cut. It is a good idea to slice and dice the black pudding when it is very cold. Although this recipe makes a very nice starter, it can made into a more substantial lunch or snack dish by serving the salad on a sauted potato cake.


Conference Pears are ideal for this salad - but try to make sure they are not too ripe. The saltiness of the blue cheese works really well with the sweetness of the pears.

Serves 4 as a starter


4 dessert pears

Lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

25g butter

50g walnut halves

Mixed salad leaves e.g. rocket, watercress, little gem leaves

Vinaigrette dressing

100g blue cheese e.g. Stilton or Mrs Bell's Blue Fresh chives for garnish

Peel, core and quarter the pears, and brush with a little lemon juice to prevent them browning.

Gently heat a frying pan then add the olive oil and butter.

When the butter is bubbling but NOT browned, add the pears and saut lightly for 2-3 minutes turning as they cook.

Be careful not to let the pears get too soft.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Add a little more oil and butter to the pan and toss the walnut halves for 2-3 minutes.

Drain on kitchen paper.

In a bowl, toss the rocket, watercress and little gem leaves together, with a little vinaigrette dressing.

Divide the leaves between 4 serving plates.

Arrange the pears on the leaves.

Break off bite sixed pieces of blue cheese and scatter over the salad along with the walnuts.

Garnish with chives and serve immediately.


I have included some nutty and delicious sprouted beans and seeds to this Lebanese inspired salad. Do mix and match the ingredients to suit your taste.

Serves 6 - 8


200g couscous

5 tbsp olive oil or any nut oil e.g. walnut

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

4 large tomatoes, diced cucumber, skinned and diced

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

2 courgettes, diced

Handful of broccoli florets - blanched

100g frozen peas, defrosted

A 200g pack of '...and sow on...' sprouted beans (mung beans, chick peas, lentils & Adzuki beans). Alternatively use your own selection of pulses

Half a 100g pack of '..and sow on...' alfalfa. Alternatively use a tub of mustard & cress

Small bunch of mint, finely chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped Chicory for garnish


Place the couscous in a large heat proof bowl.

Cover with 250ml boiling water from a kettle. Stir well.

Place a large plate over the bowl and leave for approximately 10-15 minutes until the couscous has absorbed all the water.

Once all the water has been absorbed, fork the couscous grains thoroughly and drizzle in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Then stir in the juice and zest of the lemons, followed by the garlic.

Season well.

Place all the vegetables and beans together in a large serving bowl and toss together.

Stir in the chopped herbs, followed by the prepared couscous.

Mix well.

Season again to taste and fold in some extra vinaigrette dressing if wished.

The Tabbouleh can be served in one large bowl as part of a buffet.

Alternatively, serve in individual bowls garnished with a couple of chicory leaves.


Sun ripened tomatoes are in short supply in mid winter, but 10 minutes in the oven does the trick, and will bring out lots of flavour.

Serves 4


8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthways

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

75g Greek olives, pitted

For the basil dressing

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 good tsp Dijon mustard

Handful of fresh basil leaves - reserve 2 or 3 for garnish



Make the basil dressing using a stick blender or a food processor, to whizz the ingredients together.

Place the halved tomatoes in a roasting tin, cut side uppermost.

Scatter with the garlic and drizzle with half the basil dressing.

Place the tomatoes in a pre heated oven 180c / gas mark 4 for 10-15 minutes.

Take care not to let them get too soft.

Serve the tomatoes on a platter or individually and scatter with the halved olives and extra dressing.

Garnish with the reserved basil leaves.

Many thanks to the following Yorkshire salad growers: '...and sow on...' - sprouted seeds and beans. W.S. Bentley (Growers) Ltd. T: 01274 851214. Pickering Watercress. Willowdene Watercress & Trout Farm Ltd. T: 01751 472769 Scholes Farms Ltd - Chicory. T: 01377 256710.

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