Year-round salad and veg

Food writer Steph Peirce aims to inspire year-round salads using in-season, fresh ingredients, Rebecca Fox finds.

They look great, are easy, affordable, delicious, and healthy - what more could you want, asks Steph Peirce.

The food writer from Roxburgh, known throughout the region for her popular cooking demonstrations and former Local & Friday shop, is on a mission to show people that salads and vegetables do not have to be boring.

“It’s how I cook at home - make dressings or flavour bombs once and use them five different ways to jazz up my salads.”

Steph Peirce has released two cookbooks covering the four seasons. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Steph Peirce has released two cookbooks covering the four seasons. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
That has now extended to cookbooks; her first, Everything Salads, celebrating spring and summer ingredients, came out last year, and her second, of the same name featuring autumn and winter vegetables, has just been released. A duo to offer year-round recipes and inspiration.

And yes, you can eat salads in winter, not just those made from roast vegetables, and they are a substantial option when paired with grains, she says.

“There are lots of vegetables in winter you can turn into salads; ones even that are a bit lighter using things such as thinly sliced or shaved broccoli, cabbage or fennel.”

Peirce likes to bring salads out of the often-forgotten side dish to be the main focus of a meal.

“To me, it’s a meal all in one. You don’t have to make three or four different dishes for dinner. A salad can encompass all the elements in a full meal.”

Her salads are full of different types of vegetables, leafy greens, grains and pulses, along with her signature “flavour bombs” and dressings.

“It’s the variety that keeps them interesting, substantial and joyful.”

While her recipes do not have proteins in them, she suggests proteins that can be partnered with for those who choose to.

Leftovers are great for lunches the next day, and she provides tips to ensure the salads stay fresh for a few days.

“It’s a way to eat really well but cook less often.”

THE BOOK: Images and text from Everything Salads - Autumn + Winter, Steph Peirce, RRP$45...
THE BOOK: Images and text from Everything Salads - Autumn + Winter, Steph Peirce, RRP$45 available at
In the book, Peirce offers advice on preparing ahead to help during those busy workdays by making dressings, toasting nuts and seeds and cooking grains, so all that is needed on the night is to throw everything together.

“The flavour bombs you can use in multiple things, and there are easy vegetable swaps so you can use whatever you have on hand.”

With recipes for different salad components, like dressing and textures, it is easy to “DIY” salads so people can make them to their own preferences. She also includes tips on how to style a salad, firmly believing that people eat with their eyes, so spending time making a salad look good is a great way to encourage others to eat more vegetables.

“If they are eye-catching, people get intrigued and are willing to have a try, even those meat and three vege husbands out there.”

To ensure the vegetable drawer is kept empty of wilting vegetables, she includes multiple recipes for the same ingredients, especially the likes of cabbage and cauliflower, as they are ingredients often bought as whole but only used in halves or quarters.


• Don’t crowd vegetables in a roasting dish, or they won’t caramelise.

• Freeze cooked grains in portion sizes to use later.

• Use a wide, flat serving plate or a lipped-edge plate to serve the salad that looks impressive.

• Rehydrate vegetables that have gone floppy by cutting a slice off the end of the stalk and submerging stalks in cold water.


Harissa roast pumpkin with garlic yoghurt and crispy spiced chickpeas


½ medium size pumpkin, skin removed and deseeded

4 Tbsp harissa paste

2 Tbsp honey or agave syrup

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 handful of coriander leaves

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Garlic yoghurt

1 cup yoghurt

1 large garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp sea salt

Crispy spiced chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, washed and drained

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ea smoked paprika, onion powder

½ tsp ea garlic powder, chilli flakes

Generous grind of salt and black pepper


Preheat oven to 170°C on fan-bake. Dry chickpeas on paper towels. Toss all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Scatter spiced chickpeas on the tray and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray. These can be made up to one week ahead of time when stored in a sealed glass jar.

Increase the oven temperature to 190 degrees on fan-bake for the pumpkin.

Cut the pumpkin into 3cm wedges (approximately 8-10 wedges). Start by cutting the pumpkin in half, then into quarters. From there, cut each quarter into 2-3 wedges. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, two tablespoons of harissa paste, honey, and a good sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and place pumpkin wedges on the tray with 1cm gaps between each wedge.

Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender and browning around the edges. Remove from the oven to cool slightly before serving.

Meanwhile, make the garlic yoghurt, mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside until needed.

Assemble the salad using a large, flat serving plate. Spread the garlic yoghurt neatly across the plate in a circular motion, leaving a 3cm gap between the edges of the plate.

Dollop and swirl two tablespoons of harissa paste on the yoghurt. Using a wide spatula, gently place pumpkin wedges across the plate. Scatter with crispy chickpeas and coriander leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flakey sea salt. Serve while the pumpkin is still warm.


Dairy-free alternative: Swap garlic yoghurt for 1-1½ cups of garlic tahini sauce, hummus or cashew creme.

Vegan alternative: Follow the dairy-free swap and replace honey with agave or maple syrup.


Thai red cabbage and vermicelli noodle salad
with coriander and mint

Gluten-free, dairy-free

100g vermicelli noodles

400g red cabbage (about ¼-1/6)

¼ red onion

3 spring onions, finely sliced

½ cup toasted peanuts + extra to garnish

1 handful mint leaves

1 handful of coriander, stalks included


2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

4 tbsp fish sauce

3 Tbsp light olive oil

1½ Tbsp agave syrup

½-1 red chilli, finely diced (your preference)

1 clove garlic, finely zested or crushed


Prepare the Thai dressing by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Boil the jug. Place noodles in a medium-sized bowl and pour boiling water over them so they are well submerged in hot water. Cover for 5 minutes, then drain through a sieve. Run noodles under cold water and strain again. Squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Use a mandoline on a fine slice or a large sharp knife, finely shave the cabbage and red onion and add to the noodles.

Roughly chop the herb leaves and finely chop herb stalks. Add to the salad.

Pour three-quarters of the dressing over the salad, toss with tongs and pull the noodles apart to combine evenly. Add the remaining dressing if needed (it does need to be strong), and finally add the chopped peanuts.

Assemble in a shallow serving bowl, piled high in the middle and topped with extra chopped herbs and chopped peanuts.

Enjoy this salad with poached and shredded chicken, pan-fried steak, stir-fried prawns, or salmon.

Pro tip

Vegetable additions: Here are some great choices, perfect for using up extra ingredients in your fridge.

You can use carrot, green cabbage, Chinese cabbage, red capsicum, and romaine lettuce.

Roasted parsnip, pear and pecan salad
with pomegranate and balsamic dressing

Gluten-free, dairy-free

600g parsnips

3 pears, cut into 1½ cm wedges

5 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp honey

2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only

½ cup pecans

1 shallot

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar or ¼ tsp honey

3 handfuls of salad greens; a mix of rocket and watercress

70g goats cherve or 50g gorgonzola

1 handful of micro herbs

Pomegranate and balsamic dressing

2½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 tsp runny honey or agave syrup

2 garlic cloves, crushed

60ml plain olive oil

Pinch of sea salt


Preheat oven to 180°C fan-bake.

Chop parsnips in half crossways, then slice in half lengthways and cut into 1-2cm wedges. Transfer to a large roasting tray with pear wedges, olive oil, honey, thyme leaves, a generous pinch of sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Toss with your hands to coat evenly and spread out evenly across the tray.

Roast for 30 minutes until starting to caramelise and go golden. Then add the pecans and put them back in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on the tray.

Finely slice the shallot, add red wine vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, and a pinch of sugar or honey to a bowl, and combine. Set aside to pickle for 15 minutes.

Prepare pomegranate and balsamic dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl (you can store the excess dressing in your refrigerator for up to one month).

Assemble salad on a serving plate: Layer salad greens, roasted parsnip, pear and pecans, pickled shallots, crumble goat feta and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with micro herbs to serve.