There’s been much salad love this year. When I work from home I can mix together a salad in no-time. For me, salads are all about texture. There must be something crunchy, either a raw vegetable or toasted nut (I keep a small amount toasted on hand). There must be something soft – goats cheese, ricotta, feta are all excellent additions (i’m a sucker for cheese). There must be something sweet – peach, pear, raspberry and watermelon – to name just a few. There must be something sour – lemon, apple cider vinegar, or pickled vegetables. If I can get a cooked grain or pulse in there then that only adds to the balance of textures, and of course nutrition. And a salad just wouldn’t be a salad without a smooth extra virgin olive oil.
I took it as a challenge when my brother in-law offered me a kilo of lilly pillies the other day, freshly foraged from his back yard. I accepted them immediately with the after thought of “what do you do with lilly pillies?” Most recipes I researched are for jam, or chutney. I think I’ll do a small batch of both. But what else could I do with these lilly pillies?
The gorgeous pink fruit of the lilly pilly is know for being slightly sour. Tick. I could do a salad. I figured as long as the dressing had a sweet edge then that would balance the sharpness of the berries. Since red grapes have been going in my salads of late, it didn’t take long to figure out I could swap the grapes for lilly pillies and make one of my favourite combinations with goats cheese, toasted pepita and sunflower seeds. But as well as being sour, lilly pillies have a really interesting texture, kind of soft yet crunchy.
My husband reminded me that a few years ago, before we were married, I had a lilly pilly tree growing in the back yard of a previous house. It had been under my nose all that time. I was amazed that I’d never thought to use the berries, or that he never thought to tell me to use the berries! I read in Juleigh Robins book – Wild food , which by the way has some lovely recipes using Australian ingredients, that lilly pillies (also known as riberries) were always eaten by the East coast indigenous people of Australia from Victoria right up to Queensland. They’ve been eating them for thousands of years. They’d pick them straight from the trees and eat them raw. I had the proof. They can go in salads – i’m so impressed!
Next time you spot a lilly pilly tree in your area why not try foraging yourself some of these gorgeous little fruits, and hey, make this salad, why not?
Lilly pilly salad with goats cheese and honey
This recipe makes one small salad. If you can’t get your hands on lilly pillies, swap them for red grapes and swap the honey for balsamic vinegar.
A handful of rocket leaves, washed and picked
1/4 cup lilly pillies cut in half, tiny seed removed
1 tbsp soft goats cheese
2 tbsp toasted pepitas seeds and sunflower seeds
For the dressing
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp seeded mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Wash the lilly pillies and cut in half with a small knife. Remove the tiny pip from inside, it should just kind of fall out. Place them in a bowl with the rocket, goats cheese, toasted pepita seeds and toasted sunflower seeds, toss lightly.
For the dressing combine the honey, seeded mustard and virgin oil in a small bowl, stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and eat immediately.