Summer Salads – an intriguing side dish or a glorious main?

  Red apple, celery, honey and walnut Salad, served with Manchego cheese

Red apple, celery, honey and walnut Salad, served with Manchego cheese

Are you like us? One sun ray (and quite frankly that sometimes is all we tend to get in the UK) and we’re off to the supermarket to fill our basket with colourful salad ingredients. We also find ourselves replacing red meats with fish, chicken and increasingly superfoods. Does this resonate with you?

Most of the year people talk about “hotting up in the kitchen” – meaning smoking frying pans, steaming veg, and the great British bubbling casserole. But then come the blue skies and it’s all about fresh, raw and speedy proteins to accompany the leaves. Do you agree, over recent years, the humble salad seems to have been given a new lease of life? No longer are we limited to the modest lettuce, tomato and cucumber – imports, food storage, glasshouses and a multicultural society have certainly fuelled our choice.

 Lettuce is no longer boring.

Lettuce is no longer boring.

The best part is, the green leaves no longer have to be green: the choice resembles a paint colour chart with anything from green to deep purple… and each offering a different flavour too. Yum!

When you think about preparing a salad, the first question is: salad as the main event or simply a side dish…or maybe as a topping? Here is a fun fact for you: recently we have come across salad topped pizzas! We shall have to ask the Italians if they think this is a good idea! And what about you? Do you prefer a salad as your main or as your side? And would you put it on pizza?

Once the basic ingredients are decided, the next decision to make is: do we toss, spiralise or julienne?! Check our our mandoline which makes light work of slicing and juliennes. After all, these techniques all add appeal to our salads. And we are then tempted to embellish with tasty dressings and amazing combinations, all topped off with fresh herbs, a zest of lemon or a squeeze of lime.

To round up this green rant, the foundation of a salad is surely the humble lettuce but if you ask if there’s any rules or guidelines to salad etiquette, the answer is simple:

Our Salad Guidelines: there's no rules, let your imagination run wild!

For those of you that are happier following a recipe, we have rustled up two lovely recipes with chef Tony O’Reilly with some taste tickling flavour combinations. Enjoy and let us know which one is your favourite!

Roasted Beetroot, Orange Segments and Hemp Seed Salad with Orange and Soya Dressing

Ingredients for 4

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  • 4 medium beetroot, washed
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seed
  • 50 ml soya sauce
  • ½ fist of fresh coriander, washed and chopped

Method

  1. Cut the beetroot into wedges. Drop into boiling salted water for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove, peel off the skin, drain and set aside.
  3. Transfer the beets to a bowl, add the olive oil then lay on a large roasting tray.
  4. Season with salt and milled black pepper and roast for 30 minutes approximately (200°C/400ºF/gas 6), turn on the tray occasionally for a more even finish.
  5. While the beets are cooking, zest the oranges and place in a small saucepan.
  6. Remove the skin and pith of the oranges, cut into segments and place in clean bowl.
  7. Squeeze the juice from each orange and add to the zest.
  8. Add the soya sauce, bring to the boil and reduce by half, allow to cool.
  9. When the beets are cooked, remove and allow to go cool.
  10. Once cold, toss the beets in with the orange zest dressing and segments.
  11. Season with salt and milled pepper and place in a serving bowl.
  12. Sprinkle over the hemp seed.

Red apple, celery, honey and walnut Salad, served with Manchego cheese

Ingredients for 4

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  • 4 medium red apples
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • 50 g golden raisins
  • 2 celery stalk, trimmed, peeled and chopped
  • 100 g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 50 ml good honey
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 fist of coriander, chopped
  • 175g Manchego cheese, cut into wedges

Method

  1. Peel, core and slice the apple into wedges (8 pieces from each), place in a bowl and pour over the lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  2. Add the raisin, walnuts and celery.
  3. Slightly heat (only just!!) the honey and pour over the mix.
  4. Slice the red onion thinly and add to the apple mix.
  5. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander.
  6. Dress over some rocket leaves.
  7. Serve with the wedges of Manchego cheese.
  8. Dress with a few coriander leaves.