Want to get the kids to embrace salad? Jamie Oliver says variety, creativity and plenty of chopping are key.
"Chopped salads are really easy to make and there are so many different options you can come up with. It's a great shortcut to just chop everything up on a board, mixing as you go, then throw the dressing on top, and bring it to the table. I like that it's quite dramatic and makes the salad more fun," Oliver said in an email interview.
"Another great thing I've found with chopped salads is that when the girls are being fussy about vegetables, we've found they will eat them if we chop them up in a salad and make them a pleasure to eat," said Oliver, a father of four young children.
"Kids are very sensitive to texture, and a lot of the time it's the texture rather than the flavour that's putting them off," he said. "So try different things — cooked, raw, chopped, whole — they might surprise you."
Oliver has become something of a pro at getting unwilling people to embrace unlikely foods. His Emmy award-winning ABC show, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" is in its second season of trying to reform the ways American schools prepare lunch.
"The possibilities with salads are endless, so you'll never get bored," he said. "Just go for a mixture of soft and crunchy textures, and vary what you put in them to suit the seasons and what's available. And remember, as well as all the gorgeous veg on offer, you can even use things like matchsticked apples or thin slices of pear."
And while plenty of kids like salad only for the dressing, Oliver urges a light touch.
"I don't like it when salads have too much dressing. Dressings are important as they make salads more fun to eat, but you only need to add a little bit at a time, then gently toss the salad with your fingertips until all the leaves are coated," he said. "Remember, you can always add more dressing, but you can't take it away.
"Don't forget to dry the leaves before you add the dressing, otherwise it won't stick, and always dress a salad at the last minute so the leaves don't wilt."
For AP's 20 Salads of Summer series, Oliver offered one of his children's favourite chopped salads, a blend of fennel, romaine, endive and smoked salmon. It's a delicious, fresh dish that is best prepared directly on the cutting board — an act that in itself adds to the theatre — and appeal — of the meal.
Posh Chopped Salad
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 large carrot, peeled and trimmed
1 bulb fennel
Small handful of radishes
1 head romaine lettuce
2 white Belgian endives
250 g (8 oz) smoked salmon
90 ml (6 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 30 ml/2 tbsp)
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Small bunch fresh dill, chopped
On a large cutting board, chop carrot, fennel (including greens) and radishes. Bring it all to the centre of the board and continue chopping and mixing together. Add lettuce and endive leaves and continue chopping. When everything is well chopped, assemble it in a mound at the centre of the board.
Slice salmon into small pieces and mix into the salad.
Make a well in the middle and drizzle in olive oil, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix up so everything gets dressed, sprinkle with some chopped dill, and serve straight from the board or in a bowl.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 202 calories; 142 calories from fat (70 per cent of total calories); 16 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 9 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 3 g fibre; 372 mg sodium.