Why Nadiya Hussain's kiwi and feta salad is genius

The Great British Bake Off winner designs all her salads to be “the best salad you’ve ever eaten in your life"

Published July 17, 2021 4:46PM (EDT)

Food stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Jessica Faria. (Julia Gartland / Food52)
Food stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Jessica Faria. (Julia Gartland / Food52)

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Recipe: Kiwi and Feta Salad from Nadiya Hussain

(1) She's also a cookbook authornovelist, 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.)

By Kristen Miglore

MORE FROM Kristen Miglore

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Feta Food Food52 Kiwis Nadiya Hussain Recipe Salad