Hello and welcome to all about food. This week is all about salads!
I have a feeling that the relatively recent array of salads available to us have overwhelmed many budding chefs! With the increase of travel, greater availability of international ingredients and a more relaxed approach to cooking, salads have never been as popular or as diverse.
As with most of my recipes the one rule to remember when making salads is that….there are no rules! Simply choose a few ingredients that you like, experiment a little and have some fun. When thinking about ingredients do remember the wonderful range of nuts, herbs and seeds that can turn a good salad into a lip smacking salad extravaganza! Don’t forget to try different oils, vinegars and mustards and finally when you do create something perfect, write the recipe down so you can recreate your masterpiece!
Broccoli & Feta Salad
120g of hazelnuts
400g of bite-sized broccoli florets
120g of feta cheese, cubed
200g of cherry tomatoes, halved
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
3 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
Mixed bean Salad
400g tins of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
400g tin of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4 spring onions, sliced
2 vine tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
The juice of one lemon
120 ml of extra virgin/olive oil
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
For the broccoli and feta salad
* To make the dressing: (for perfectly blended dressing use a jam jar with a lid). Mix the white wine vinegar with salt & pepper in a jar. Put the lid on and shake until the salt has dissolved. Add the Dijon mustard & shake again, finally, add the oil and garlic and shake once more.
* For the salad: Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the hazelnuts and toast until golden brown, this only takes a few minutes – do keep an eye on the nuts as they burn easily. Remove from the heat and tip them into a tea towel to rub off the skins. Once cool, put the hazelnuts into a bowl with the broccoli, feta and tomatoes. Pour over the dressing, add a little black pepper and gently toss the salad.
For the mixed bean salad
* Place the rinsed beans, garlic, spring onions and tomatoes into a large bowl, add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Season with sea salt and add the parsley and stir again. These salads are delicious served with crusty bread and some grilled vegetables, or roast ham or chicken.
Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutneys made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients.