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3rdMention ‘food’ closely followed by ‘green salad’ for iftar, and anticipatory smiles tend to turn into bored frowns, yet – with a dash of revolutionary ‘spice’, salads can become ‘master class’ haute cuisine!

Plain lettuce, especially if not crisp, is nothing to write home about, neither is over-aged arugula with its distinct, bitter taste. Instead, sharp and mature red mustard leaves served with bright, new, green horseradish leaves are a completely different matter. Not only are they delicious, they are packed with vitamins and minerals.

For adventurous foodies, a green salad is, especially if home-grown and organic, a voyage of tantalising, mouth-watering exploration, right from the first delicious bite, and on through to chasing the final shreds of desire around the plate with a scrumptious hunk of garlic bread dripping in herbed olive oil.

Endive, long standing in the garden and far more heat-tolerant than lettuce, is a scrumptious new salad trend, as are luxuriant, feathery carrot leaves, raw, blue-green broccoli florets, peppery nasturtium leaves and pungent mizuna with its jagged lightning edges.

Then there are some really wild salad greens too: few seem to remember – if they ever knew – that the leaves of the drumstick tree, moringa oleifera are a nutritious, ravishing salad ingredient which, by the way, are a highly recommended spinach substitute or that grape vine leaves, preferably tender young ones, can be enjoyed just as they are or cooked in a variety of exquisite dishes.

Other wild, wild salad leaves to relish include: plantago minor, plantago major, chickweed, goosegrass, bistort, dandelion and watercress which, surprisingly, are indigenous in various regions of Pakistan.

If, on the other hand, plain green is not your colour, then you can jive-up your salad scheme with the rainbow hues of edible flowers like day lilies, pansies, violas, carnations, roses and – for the ultimate foodie bling – orchid petals too!

– B Khan


First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 20, 2014.