Growing Spanish Summer Salads

Enjoy a diversity beyond your dreams.
By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe active gardeners and authors living in Spain for twenty years.

Salads are an important part of the Spanish Mediterranean diet. You will see workers eating them with their breakfast and as a second starter at lunch and it’s a popular accompaniment to tapas before dinner and often to a summer paella.

In the better bars, restaurants and health conscious households – Spanish and expatriate – salads go well beyond the basic lettuce, tomato onion, tinned sweet corn and tinned olives – especially in the summer.

At each stage of the expansion of our vegetable and fruit growing, And our experiments for the mini-growing chapters of ‘Growing healthy fruit in Spain’ ISBN 978-84-89954-62-5 and ‘Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’ ISBN 978-84-89954-53-3 we have consciously made our sowings and plantings as diverse as possible so that our daily salads are a delight to look at, gastronomic to eat and healthy in their diverse contents of valuable vitamins and minerals. As you will see below we have no problem in meeting the now recommended five to nine portions of wholesome fresh vegetables and fruit a day grown according to natural, ecological and organic principles. And they can be grown by anyone for many can be grown in seed sprouters, window and fish boxes; larger containers and raised beds; as well as in a vegetable plot or allotment.

Salad Ingredients we Grow in Spain

To date we have grown the salad ingredients listed below. They can be combined in a multitude of simple or creative ways as indicated after the listing.

Salad Leaves

Rocket, Chinese cabbage, spinach, broccoli tips, dandelion, chicory, lambs lettuce, perpetual lettuce, endive, good king Henry, red oak leaf lettuce, young radish leaves, celtuce, land cress, water cress, oriental spicy salad leaves, cabbage, red cabbage, rocket, parsley, nasturtium, pickled gypsies asparagus, pineapple sage, marjoram, mint and basil. Just of basil there are dozens of types you can grow from seed.

Sprouted Seeds

alfalfa, adzuki beans, beetroot, broccoli, buckwheat, chickpeas, cress, fenugreek, lentils, mung/soya beans, mustard, onion, pumpkin, radish, rocket, sunflowers, oriental stir fry mixes.

Stems

Asparagus, fennel, celeriac, leeks, spring onions, calcots, wild mushrooms, wild garlic, chives, celery and borage.

Roots

Radish, beetroot, carrots, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, and new potatoes.

Flowers

Nasturtium, rocket, hibiscus, pot marigold , violas, courgette, cauliflower and broccoli. We were served a salad comprising of only six colours of hibiscus flowers with a delicate dressing when we visited the botanical gardens in Havana when on a study tour. It was delicious. We now add them to salads at home.

Flower Buds

Caper, nasturtium, and artichoke.

Fruits

Olives, oranges, lemons, peppers, a wide variety of heritage tomatoes, sweet corn, pomegranates, apricots, pears, apples, mango, melon, cactus fruit, butternut squash (violin), cucumber, gherkins, mange tout peas, grapes, avocado, raspberries, strawberries, capers and once we managed to achieve a good pineapple.

Beans, Peas and Pulses

Thin young French and other varieties, young broad and butter beans, young peas, mangetout and cooked lentils, chick peas and haricot soya and butter beans.

Seeds and Nuts

Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pistachio, sunflower seeds, apricot kernels, and poppy seeds rice. Yes we have grown rice in a bath! (See page 29 of ‘Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’.)

Herbs

Dill, anis, basil, coriander, thyme, rosemary, marjoram/oregano, sage, curry, mint, parsley and basil.

Herbs can be used fresh or dried on a salad.

Also consider adding your preferred herbs to a bottle of olive oil or cider vinegar. Leave for several weeks and then add to your salad dressing.

This is not intended to be complete list. It is merely a brain dumping over breakfast of what we have grown and used in salads in recent years.