Summer and salad go together like bread and butter, but forget limp lettuce, CASA’s Maria Broadbent has some fab ideas for summer on a plate
The great thing for CASA’s meat-eating customers is the choice and flavours of all our sides, salads and veggie tapas! Because we cater for vegans and vegetarians it has pushed me to create vegetable dishes and salads that stand up in their own right – this dynamic approach to even the most humble of vegetables has led me to an endless list of ideas. Trying to keep this down to those that will fit in this article was a challenge. I limited myself a little by basing them all on UK seasonal produce available during May and June Try to use these rather than imported ingredients as they will not only taste better but also the environmental impact is significantly less.
When the sunshine returned this week – suddenly the idea of a salad became much more inviting. Salads used to have a bad name and I still find many limp, bland and poorly dressed. (I promise I am talking about salads!)
Salads really need the freshest ingredients as the crunch is important – also the sugar in the vegetables once picked starts to convert to starch. This migration of sugar to starch means that ingredients lose their sweetness and will become bitter.
SMOKED SALMON SALAD
The smoked salmon salad was a very early MasterChef recipe that my BFF absolutely loves! She is visiting in a fortnight’s time so I am looking forward to making and sharing it.
A bag of watercress and rocket mix
3 spring onions – sliced diagonally
Generous handful sugar snap or mangetout peas
120g pack of smoked salmon trimmings (you can use slices) (£1.39 ALDI)
4 brown anchovies
1 teaspoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon freshly-chopped parsley
Juice of half a lime
150ml double cream
Pinch of pink peppercorns
Put the anchovies and a little of their oil into a small saucepan – heat gently whilst mushing the anchovies with a spoon!
Add the tomato puree and mix, then the double cream and parsley – cook until the cream has reduced and will coat the back of a wooden spoon – remove from heat.
Mix all your salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with the lime juice.
Save six pretty pieces of salmon to decorate.
Cut up remaining salmon and add to the cream.
Divide the green stuff between two plates.
Drizzle over the cream mix.
Decorate with the remaining salmon and the pink peppercorns.
Serve with the remaining lime.
GRIDDLED SPRING SALAD WITH ROCKET
The rocket salad is a creation based on all my favourite Italian ingredients, plus asparagus. English asparagus in season is a thing of beauty.
Bag of rocket
Pack of asparagus
Shavings of parmesan (optional)
For the dressing:
1 red chilli – finely chopped
2 tablepoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic – crushed
Light olive oil
Cut the courgettes lengthways and brush with oil.
Snap the woody bases off the asparagus stalks and brush these with oil too.
Heat a griddle (one of those ridged ones) to as higher heat as possible (DO NOT ADD ANY OIL)
Griddle the courgette until you have black char lines and it is starting to soften but not floppy.
Do the same with asparagus.
In a small bowl or mug add all the dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork.
Put the rocket in a bowl. Cut the courgette and asparagus diagonally to make them easier to eat. Add these and the dressing to the rocket and toss very gently.
Top with parmesan shaving if using.
When preparing asparagus, simply snap the base of the stalk as near to the base as possible. It will only snap where it starts to become tender – so you waste as little as possible but maintain quality.
The bits you snap off can go into a stock for an asparagus risotto or infuse in the milk for an asparagus quiche.
DOMESTIC SCIENCE TIP
For courgettes and aubergines that can taste bitter – plus absorb a lot of fat when cooking – try the following:
Cut them up and then place in a colander and sprinkle with plenty of salt. This triggers osmosis, which will draw out the excess water with any residual bitterness, Leave to stand/drain for about ½ an hour – just make sure to wash well and pat dry.
OSMOSIS – a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one.
A potato salad was a sure fire winner with my Dad – it’s a great blokey salad as the green ‘stuff’ is kept to the onions and herbs. . . the rest is pure carbs and fat.
800g new season potatoes (or you can use leftover boiled potatoes)
3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise (you can use vegan)
3 tablespoons crème fraiche (Oatley make a vegan crème fraiche)
Small handful parsley – chopped
4 spring onions – chopped
2 tablesppons cornichon (little gherkins) chopped
1 tablepoon capers (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes – drain. Leave to cool
GUJERATI CARROT SALAD
The carrot salad was one of the first Indian dishes I made from Madhur Jaffrey’s 1985 BBC cookbook. It’s clean and fresh – plus it has no mayo or dressing which my sister hates, so she likes it too!
350g carrots – peeled and coarsely grated
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Toss the grated carrots with the salt.
Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot – put in the mustard seeds.
They will start to pop very soon, as soon as they do remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the oil and seeds over the carrots, add the lemon juice and toss.
To make a non-mayonnaise coleslaw you can add shredded cabbage, mangetout and red onion to this. It’s very colourful!
Make the best of what there is around this summer
Cherries (coming into season)
Aubergines (in season from late May)
Carrots (in season from late May)
New potatoes (coming into season)
Peas (coming into season)
Rhubarb (end of season)
Rocket (coming into season)
Watercress (coming into season)
Blueberries (coming into season)
Raspberries (coming into season)
Strawberries (coming into season)
Tomatoes (coming into season)
Artichokes (globe) (coming into season)
Broad beans (in season mid-June)
Courgettes (coming into season)
Fennel (coming into season)
Pak choi (in season end of June)
Spinach (end of main season)
Turnips (summer season crop in season)