While Melbourne's weather can't promise sunny skies every day, it can guarantee one thing – plenty of stunning veggies, fruits and herbs!
And as the entertaining season kicks off again, it's the perfect time to put this produce to great use. Enter: the salad. It's fresh, it's vibrant, it's satisfying but still light.
We've gathered our favourites for you to try your hand at, from speedy work lunch staples to options for the first balmy dinner party. Plus, each is packed with extra protein and fibre, thanks to added grains and legumes.
Take a look at our must-try salads below.
Mixed Grain, Poached Chicken and Broad Bean Salad
This fresh and filling salad is perfect to make ahead for lunches, says cook and author Julia Busuttil Nishimura. A zesty lemon verjus dressing coats a combination of pearl barley, cracked freekeh and quinoa, plus fresh herbs, broad beans and chicken. There's plenty of flexibility, too: "You can vary the grains, depending on your preference or what you have in your cupboard – just be sure to adjust cooking times accordingly," says Julia.
Farro and Roasted Carrot Salad with Raisins, Harissa and Chickpeas
Combining warming cumin, harissa-infused oil and sweet carrots with Australian organic chickpeas and farro, Adam Baughan of Mr McCracken delivers what might just be the salad of the season. It's a great accompaniment to a Sunday roast chicken, or if you're after a light weeknight dinner, this will serve four people.
Cauliflower Quinoa Salad
Cauliflower, chickpeas and quinoa – three unbeatable ingredients for maximum satisfaction! Nicky uses saba, a rich syrup made from freshly squeezed grape juice, in the dressing for this dish, but also suggests vincotto or aged balsamic vinegar as substitutes. We love this alongside grilled lamb, or as a meal in itself!
Grain and Seasonal Veg Salad
"I've shared this dish because it's great for the home cook," says Mount Zero Hero and TarraWarra Estate chef Joel Alderdice. "It's flexible, adaptable, and you can use whatever veg and herbs you have. The freekeh and farro give it great texture." Joel likes to serve this as part of a shared meal, encouraging a long, leisurely lunch with friends and family.
Cracked Freekeh Tabouli
Middle Eastern specialty chef and Mount Zero Hero Kirsty Chiaplias heads up Carlton North favourite, Babajan, and brings you a traditional recipe packed with vegetables, refreshing herbs and cracked freekeh! A pomegranate molasses dressing adds a balancing sweetness and plenty of tang.
Confit Duck Salad
Nicky Riemer is a self-confessed Mount Zero devotee (thanks Nicky!) and has used our Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a base for a zingy vinaigrette dressing in this dish. Add crispy confit duck, braised green lentils and spring greens, and this impressive salad is sure to be a hit at your first spring dinner party!
Roast Quinoa Salad with Nashi Pear, Hazelnut, Sultanas and Rocket
Mixed Grain, Pickled Fennel, Pomegranate, Sumac & Labne Salad
It doesn't get easier than this salad! Simply cook the grains and leave to cool, before topping with fennel, labne and dressing. If you're feeling adventurous, chef Paul Baker has shared his tips for DIY pickled fennel and homemade labne – but you can easily substitute these for your favourite shop-bought alternatives.
Plus dress up any simple salad with Karen Martini's classic Salmoriglio, an aromatic Southern Italian dressing with plenty of punch.
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