Spice up your life with interesting salads!

When Giulia crouch from The Times got in touch to ask for a recipe for one of our unusual, creative salads, we knew we’d met a kindred spirit! We’ve been creating imaginative vegetable dishes (featuring spice, herbs, cheese, nuts, pulses all the rainbow veg and the odd bit of meat or fish on occasion) since we opened over 20 years ago and we’ve struggled with the word SALAD.

Offer someone a salad and they still probably find their mind drifting to a limp green leaf, or possibly if you’re a 60s or 70s baby a crisper piece of iceberg, sitting with a few slices of cucumber, tomato and if you’re lucky a bit of raw onion.  Dressing might be a bit of oil and vinegar. Not a meal and usually more of, well, a garnish.  To be left on the side of the plate by the majority.

So, what to call the amazing array of textures, colours, flavours all put together to create something mouth watering and more-ish that anyone would be happy to eat on its own? Some of our salads in the deli counter feature your five a day in one dish and fans of our salad box deal (three salads to take away) feature all the rainbows you’ve ever dreamt of.

I’m a useless and not very enthusiastic cook and the thought of creating such wonder exhausts me, yet our chefs create these beauties, day in , day out.

So back to Giulia Crouch – she GETS this and wrote this great article which is a bit of an ode to the more original, nutritional, creative salad. And asked us for a recipe. So Marcin, our brilliant check obliged and came up with this: Spiced aubergine, lentils, rice caramelised onions, pomegranate and soft spring herbs.

She says “The chef Marcin Laurentowicz creates and array of different, vibrant salads each day at the Bristol deli Papadeli and they are never boring.  Combing in different sites, flavours and textures, this warmly spiced and fragrant salad with sweet notes is the perfect dish to make for friends or a delicious lunch for yourself.”

Have look and see if you fancy trying it.  Remember, if you can’t be bothered, and you live in Bristol (or near enough for a day trip) come and visit the counter where there are LOADS of amazing salads (amongst lots of other deliciousness).


The Recipe:

Cumin spiced aubergine with speckled lentils, rice, caramelised onions, pomegranate, Za’atar, Aleppo chillies, zest and soft Spring herbs.




1 large aubergine cut into chunks

2 white onions, finely sliced

200g speckled lentils

400g basmati rice

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and blended

1 large tablespoon of pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses

Toasted sunflower seeds, warmed and browned in the oven at 180C for 10 mins with salt, cumin, extra virgin olive oil)

Salt and black pepper

Mint, dill & parsley, roughly chopped (most for combined in the salad, a sprinkling for the top)

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Za’atar to taste


Simmer the lentils in vegetable stock for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender but not overcooked. They need a nice bite. Drain off the water and cool.  Dress with lemon juice and zest and Extra virgin olive oil.

Also, cook the rice, bringing to the boil in lots of cold water then drain when cooked (again with a slight firmness) and run under cold water to remove excess starch.

Roast the aubergine chunks, seasoned with salt, extra virgin olive oil and cumin in a 180C oven until caramelised.

Brown the onions in a thick bottomed pan over a high heat for about 20 minutes or until deeply browned and a little crispy on the edges. In the last few minutes add a pinch of cumin, Aleppo pepper / pul biber flakes and salt to taste.


Once all the above are cooked and cooled, bring together in a large bowl, adding the toasted cumin seeds, herbs, fresh pomegranate, pomegranate molasses and sunflower seeds.

Combine roughly together. Add salt, black pepper, more lemon juice / zest and Za’atar to taste. Decorate with the remaining herbs. Best served at room temperature.


The Times salad recipe Giulia Crouch