Best Dressed Salads – Back to Basics with Brad

Words Brad King, Images Brydie Thompson


The onset of spring means that the ground is starting to warm, and here at The Falls Retreat, we get a tad excited knowing that our kitchen gardens will start to become more plentiful. We love to showcase our homegrown organic garden produce throughout our menus, and we grow a range of picking greens and herbs all year round, enabling our kitchen team to harvest daily and create the most amazing garden salads.

If you start with a great raw ingredient, you will more likely end up with a great finished dish, and this is never more true than when creating salads. Delivered mainly in a raw state, the key to a great garden salad is in the variety of leaves and herbs and the dressing you choose to finish it with. Choosing to grow/buy organically also means that it not only tastes amazing but is nutrient dense, thanks to the biodiversity of the soil.

If planting your own salad garden, and this can be as simple as a few pots on the patio, here are some plants to consider. Remember, it’s all about variety!


Rainbow chard

NZ native spinach



Lemon balm

Canasta lettuce




Herb Mix


Mustard leaf

Snowpea tendrils

Snowpea shoots

Vietnamese mint

Thai basil



Add our amazing house-made dressing and throw in our pantry condiments such as our candied cashews or marinated olives and you instantly have a salad with the WOW factor!


Falls Retreat White Balsamic House Dressing

½ cup of cashews, toasted and blitzed

2 cups white balsamic vinegar

6 cups olive oil

⅓ cup Dijon mustard

2 tbsp minced garlic

½ cup runny honey

1 cup chopped chives

10 sorrel leaves, julienne (optional)

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 cup cold water (lucky last!)


Toast then blitz cashews in a spice grinder.

Place all the ingredients together in a blender (except water) and blend.

Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste, then slowly add water until desired consistency is reached.

Brad’s Top Tips:

  • A traditional vinaigrette creates a lot of flavour for your salad with just 3 simple ingredients—oil, vinegar and salt/pepper.
  • Most recipes will run with a ratio of 3 parts oil to 2 parts vinegar, but I run on a ratio of 2:1 to pack a bit more punch!
  • Experiment with different types of vinegar (sherry, balsamic, cider, red, white or rice wine vinegar all work) and oil (go with neutral vegetable oil like grapeseed for a mild base or your best extra virgin olive oil for grassier undertones).
  • At home, my wife puts the ingredients into a large, lidded jar and gives it a good shake to mix. The remaining dressing will store in that same jar in the fridge till the next salad meal later in the week. Just give it another good shake before using again.
  • When in season, lemons, limes, oranges and even grapefruit can be used and subbed for a portion of the vinegar.
  • To take it to the next level, add ½ teaspoon of grainy mustard or ½ teaspoon of honey for each tablespoon of vinegar.


Falls Retreat Salads & Dressings Masterclass
October 9th – 10-3


Experience our Salad & Dressings masterclass that takes you from the garden to the dinner table no matter what the season. Enjoy a full day workshop including an interactive session in Falls kitchen veggie gardens and a cooking demo where you will watch and learn how to create a range of salads and dressings with the wow factor using seasonal produce.
The day includes a delicious morning tea and lunch.

Book your spot at

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