Genius Recipes

‘The Best Salad You've Ever Eaten in Your Life’

In this Genius Recipe, Nadiya Hussain proves we have to stop throwing out this ingredient.

July 14, 2021

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Founding Editor and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.


This salad has everything going for it: You can make it in one bowl. You can prep it ahead—for picnics, for barbecues, for dinner tonight. You can swirl it into a bright, herby, creamy, juicy, crisp thrillfest, in very little time.

The Great British Bake Off winner and Netflix star Nadiya Hussain designs all her salads to be “the best salad you’ve ever eaten in your life.” Here, as always, she nails it. (1)

But in all of this greatness, there’s one unlikely but irrefutable star: fuzzy, downright standoffish kiwis. Specifically, their peels.

A fuzzy star is born. Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Jessica Faria.

Even if you’ve heard evangelists tell you to eat kiwis, skin and all; even if you’ve already tried it and aren’t completely convinced, it is my solemn vow that this salad will convert you—in one of two ways.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“And why am I not using kiwis in salad more often? That astringency, and their bright color, will improve just about any salad. I plan to make this soon - inviting to the party a fistful of arugula and some Mayan jaguar lettuce from our garden. I simply cannot wait. Thank you! ;o)”
— AntoniaJames
Comment

Nadiya herself is a testament to the first. In her cookbook Time to Eat, she doesn’t shy away from the common visceral reactions. In the recipe’s introduction, she likens the not-dissimilar sensation of eating peach skins to “that of licking a Russian Blue cat.” In our conversation for The Genius Recipes Tapes podcast, she compares the idea of eating kiwi skin to chewing on a teddy bear’s leg, the outside of a coconut, and something that you’d use to scour your pans.

This was Nadiya’s own reaction, too, when she first saw a recommendation to eat the peels on Greg Rutherford’s Instagram feed. But she’s someone who likes a challenge.

And when she tried it, “It was the weirdest, most wonderful thing I've ever tried because, you know, your mind expects you to hate it, your mind already decided that this is the way it's going to feel, and this is the way it's going to taste,” she told me. “It ticked all of those boxes, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is as weird as I imagined it would be, but it is still really delicious.’”

In overcoming a food aversion, it’s not just that you may be wrong about everything you assumed—it’s that you may be right, only to discover you like it anyway. (2)

And the second way this recipe may convert you? Even if you’re not immediately won over by biting straight into the little Brillo pads, like Nadiya was, a salad is the answer. Because bathing kiwis in a dressing tames their fuzz, just like pomade smooths frizzed hair on a humid day. This dressing in particular—which leans on Middle Eastern powerhouse ingredients—woodsy za’atar and creamy tahini—is good enough to drink from the bowl when all the kiwi is gone.

On one last point, let me be clear: Not only can you and should you eat kiwi skin—for ease, economy, nourishment, badassery—this salad would not be as good without it. The kiwi is a wonder of textures: crunchy seeds, juicy-tart flesh, and the taut snap of skin that acts like a chip to a dip. Or a teddy bear leg to a teddy bear. In a good way.

(1) She’s also a cookbook author, novelist, and one of my (and my daughter’s) favorite writers for kids.

(2) In addition to eating peel-on kiwis in this salad and out of hand, Nadiya and her family like to freeze them, either in slices or whole with a stick poked through, as ice pops. Frozen, the kiwi flesh turns sorbet-like inside. (Peep the end of the video above to see one local two-year-old’s review.)

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

19 Comments

Janis O. July 21, 2021
Alas! I’m allergic to kiwi fruit. Everything else sounds delish, so maybe I need to make this without the star ingredient. Watermelon might be good….
 
Renae July 19, 2021
So, add the kiwi in the same step the cucumber is added?
 
Janelee July 18, 2021
Hi, hoping you can help me. I think I would love this salad but I can’t find the recipe…just the video…can you please Tell me where to locate…thanks so much….
 
brandyk July 16, 2021
I liked the salad but felt the dressing was too much. I think it needs less tahini and less honey. Tasted VERY sweet. Also my kiwis were not very hairy. Maybe I got a different variety as it also had yellow flesh. If I make it again, I will tweak it with dressing on the side.
 
Matt July 17, 2021
The yellow ones market themselves as being hairless
 
Judy B. July 20, 2021
Think the brand is Sungold. Name is a big clue to the interior color.
 
Hollis R. July 16, 2021
The last time I ate a kiwi, in 1991, was with the skin. And it made my eyeballs itch! That wasn’t an experience I wanted again, so I blamed it on the skin. Perhaps I should’ve blamed it on whatever the skin was sprayed with, I’m now thinking. This dressing sounds heavenly — I’m addicted to za’atar — and the salad ingredients are right up my alley. (Although for much of my life I despised feta, even referring to it as fetid! Nowadays it’s the star ingredient in my Baked Greek Salad.)
 
Catu13 July 18, 2021
It’s not uncommon for people who are allergic to pollens to have a reaction to kiwi, especially a localized reaction to the mouth, tongue, face. ❤️
 
robinorig July 19, 2021
I developed a severe allergy to kiwi out of nowhere in my late twenties. I have to now carry an would I just in case because my throat cliffs in if I even get one seed or one drop of juice or flesh. I have to be careful about eating fruit salad or even garnished plates out. I even encountered a dessert where the raspberry sauce was "enhanced" with kiwi with no mention on the menu. Since then I've heard that many people are allergic. If you already get a mild reaction, you should probably stop eating them as it can build to a much worse allergy. The protein in it is related also to latex and bananas.
 
robinorig July 19, 2021
That should say epipen... #autoincorrect
 
judy July 15, 2021
I started eating the skin of kiwis a few years ago, as long as the fruit is organic. Read an article suggesting that we do so. Bit of an odd texture, but read that it significantly improves the nutritional value of the fruit if the skin is eaten. Now I hardly notice the skin. Kiwis are a very nice fruit.
 
Andrew W. July 15, 2021
Re: Is zucchini a fruit? - This is one of those situations where two definitions of a word butt up against each other. There's the scientific definition of a fruit (the part with the seeds in it) and the colloquial definition of fruit (the sweet foods from plants). Under the scientific definition many of the foods we colloquially call vegetables are actually fruits - tomatoes and zucchini (as you mentioned), but also peppers, beans and legumes (also, tree nuts).
So our "true" vegetables are the ones from other parts of the plant: root vegetables, alliums (onions & garlic) which are essentially a stem, and cabbages which are technically herbs that are prevented from sprouting flowers (broccoli is actually a bunch of tiny cabbage flower heads grown in cold weather to prevent blooming (or "bolting" in horticultural parlance)).
 
Patricia F. July 14, 2021
Have to admit, I really don't like the skin of regular kiwis. However, yellow or golden kiwis are not hairy and delicious with the skin!
 
Melissa W. July 14, 2021
Definitely looking forward to making this - I come from Kiwiland and grew up eating the skin (who had time to peel them??). Also loving the idea of freezing them and trying them with the kids. Great ideas.
 
Jo S. July 14, 2021
Hi there I love your videos! I am from the land of the kiwifruit - thats what we call them here. We always ate them with the skin on when I was younger as they grew all over our neighbourhood, but now I get them from the store and I ALWAYS peel because of the sprays used on them :( We use them sliced to decorate pavlovas either with or without strawberries too. They are known to tenderise chicken before cooking! Don't cook them with the chicken or the chicken may disintegrate! Chicken is nice served with round slices on it too. Also the BEST drink ever ...dice 1 kiwifruit (yes peeled) and half of a large banana and add with half a cup of water to a blender & blitz! Add more or less water to your liking. This is a flavour sensation you will love! I did this for breakfast for years & used the other half of the banana for another drink after work. It gives you amazing energy & people always commented on my complexion! - I never got those comments before I started drinking it every day. Sorry this is so long! Hopefully you can go on a wider exploration with kiwifruit!
 
Geoff K. July 14, 2021
I am breaking my strict no-comment policy to say that is the greatest podcast title in the history of fruit-based puns.
 
Morgan R. July 14, 2021
When I first saw a Kiwi I had no idea how to eat it. And tried eating like an apple, pear or peach. I spit it right out. The skin is a total no go for me.
 
AntoniaJames July 14, 2021
Whoa. Anything not to have to peel kiwis. I'm in!

And why am I not using kiwis in salad more often? That astringency, and their bright color, will improve just about any salad.

I plan to make this soon - inviting to the party a fistful of arugula and some Mayan jaguar lettuce from our garden. I simply cannot wait.

Thank you! ;o)
 
Jessamin July 14, 2021
I feel compelled to tell you that I always enjoy your comments on this site, and when you review something well I’ve come trust you (maybe because of your profile photo, you look trustworthy).