Monday, 12 July 2010

Jamboree of Summer Salads

Platter of summer loveliness

As always a trip to the farmers market at this time of year is full of summer colours and a heady indulgent desire to buy everything in sight. I really did overbuy this week and was determined to use everything up, so had a long session in the kitchen making up lots of different salads, which can be dipped into over the next few days to go with the fresh sardines, smoked mackerel and goats cheese. In the photo I made smoked mackerel pate. (click for recipe)

I recommend this rather random buying plan, as you can always prepare the fresh produce and keep in a container (especially when dressed with oil and/or lemon juice) refrigerated for a few days. The root produce will last longer than the leafy stuff, so if you do go slightly mad, cook the leaves and stalks first and later in the week cook the roots along with pulses and grains. That's my rough plan and it works very well.

Most of these ideas are simply the ingredient and little else. We sometimes forget to enjoy simple ingredients for being just what they are, served with the minimum seasoning & splash of oil or lemon juice. As much as different things go fantastically well with cracking combinations, it's really welcome to celebrate the produce in its raw simplicity.

Here are a selection of colourful and delicious salads that we have have been feasting on this week.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage is more associated with slow braising and a winter vegetable. This fabulous salad is cooling in the heat and works well with everything. As cabbage is robust, it keeps well for a good 5 days.

1 head of red cabbage
1 small red onion
celery leaves
Small handful of raisins or sultanas
3 Tbsp rapeseed oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper

Finely shred the red cabbage, onion and celery.
Mix the oil, vinegar and honey with seasoning and combine.
Add the sultanas or raisins.
As the acids work on the cabbage it becomes soft and the texture improves.

Kohl Rabbi & Beetroot

This has been my new favourite salad. And oh so good for you.

1 bunch of kohl rabbi
1 bunch of beetroots
4 stalks of celery
Handful of parsley and chervil
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Peel the beetroots and kohl rabbi and finely grate or use a food processor for an easy life. Mix the dressing and combine with herbs. This will keep for at least 4 days.

Samphire Salad

Samphire is one of those outstanding ingredients which doesn't need or particular benefit from any other influence, save for a mere splattering of oil and a squeeze of lemon. It is the taste of the sea, so why not enhance that.

Simply wash, then into boiling water for 60 seconds, drain and immediately plunge into chilled water. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

Turtle beans, avocado & chili

I love these shiny black beans. A good selection of salads should always have a guesting pulse and turtle beans are my bean of choice for hot and cold. As always, soak overnight, change the water and bring to the boil, skimming off any white froth and simmer for about 40-50 minutes, until the beans are soft, but still retains a bite. Chill in cold water and drain ready for whatever delight you wish to bestow on these black gems.

250gm Turtle beans soaked and cooked as described above
1 large ripe avocado
1 hot chili cut up and diced tiny (or if a milder chili cut into rings)
5 spring onions sliced thin
Handful of coriander
Olive oil
juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
Salt and pepper

Simply combine all the above and dress.

New Season Roasted Carrots

And what doesn't it go with?

Although you can roast carrots all year round, new season bunched carrots are the best by far. Much sweeter with a more tender texture. I recommend roasting a big bunch, or two and leave in the fridge for up to 5 days. In prepping, just wash them NOT peel (God forbid).
The addition of any fresh herbs at the end works wonderfully. And anything goes. Chervil was my herb today, but parsely, tarragon, mint, coriander, sorrel and so on.

1 bunch of new season bunched carrots, washed
Olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
Handful of finely chopped parsley or as today chervil
Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 190C

Cut the carrots in half if they are big. Just take the top ferns off and the stringy root.
In a baking tray add the carrots and toss in a generous amount of olive oil, season well and add a teaspoon of fennel seeds.
Give the tray a shake and move the carrots around to ensure an even roasting.
When you have a golden and caramalised tray of carrots, transfer to a dish and add some finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon

Grilled Courgettes

Possibly my favourite seasonal vegetable is the baby courgette, simply sliced and fried on quite high heat with some olive oil until golden. These I actually grew in my garden. My lunch guest said I was showing off when I nonchalantly dropped that in. And I suppose I was, but why not?

Radish and Arame

This wonderful combination came from one of my oldest cookery books by Rose Elliot from over 20 years ago. She was way ahead of her time back then; when vegetarian cooking was omelettes and cheese. I learned how to cook from her book. She remains one of my greatest influences.

I don't remember exactly what she did here, except for this combination and the lovely black and pink. This Japanese style dressing works with so many palate cleansing dishes, such as kohl rabbi, mouli, cucumber; anything crunchy and with lots of water basically.

10gms arame seaweed soaked until soft and doubled in size. Drain.
1 bunch of raddishes washed and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp shoyu sauce
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Simply combine the above

1 comment:

  1. I love farmers markets! Those salads are amazing! I'd love to taste each of them now.... So fresh!




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