A secret ingredient to bring warmth, sweetness and umami to a chopped salad

Lilly Higgins: A chopped salad is the best way to ensure you’re eating plenty of vegetables

I love having a tub of gochujang Korean chilli paste in the fridge. It is widely available in larger supermarkets, or check your local Asian store or online. It lasts in the fridge for months and I use it often. I initially bought it to make my own kimchi, but I now use it in marinades, stir-fries and soups. It’s my secret ingredient to bring warmth, sweetness and umami to any dish.

Here I’m using it in a quick, easy marinade for halloumi. You can prepare the marinade and leave the halloumi and chickpeas to sit in it for a day or two before cooking.

I have two golden rules when it comes to halloumi. The first is to season it cautiously, as it is already quite salty. The soy sauce in this marinade is just enough. The second rule is to serve it as soon as it is cooked. Straight from the pan, halloumi is crunchy and delicious on the outside, soft and yielding on the inside. But after a few minutes it toughens and really earns its reputation as squeaky cheese.

I like to set aside a little time for some meditative chopping, listening to a good podcast, armed with a peeler and a sharp knife

I really do love a chopped salad. It is the best way to ensure that you’re eating plenty of vegetables. Even better, they are raw. I like to prepare a big chopped salad at the start of the week, using whatever vegetables I have at hand. Root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, celeriac and kohlrabi all work well at providing a sturdy base, as does cabbage, red or white. Peppers, onion and cucumber are also fantastic.

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Make a punchy dressing with plenty of herbs, or just chop them finely and fold through the cubed vegetables. I like to set aside a little time for some meditative chopping, listening to a good podcast, armed with a peeler and a sharp knife. I like to pair earthy beetroot with mint and lots of lemon juice. It is ideal for serving in a packed lunch with hummus, adding a scoop to a wrap or serving last minute with dinner.

Recipe: Sticky chilli chickpeas and halloumi with chopped salad

Lilly’s kitchen tips

  1. Reserve the water from the tinned chickpeas, the aquafaba, for using in sauces and soups. It’s nutritious and creates a really smooth texture.
  2. This salad lasts a few days in the fridge and then I usually tip whatever remains into soup or a stir fry.
  3. In a pinch, I sometimes make this salad in a food processor. A mini chopper is also ideal; it minces the vegetables, so the texture isn’t as pleasing, but it still works fine.