Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing

I love the sweet and sour combination of this crunchy salad. Adjust the dressing until you have the perfect balance.

Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing

You can use any cabbage in this salad even red cabbage works.

For the Thai Peanut Dressing

2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)

1 tablespoons sugar

1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Nam Pla

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

For the Salad

½ pointed cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1  cucumber, halved lengthwise, de-seeded, halved lengthways again and chopped into 1cm chunks

1 cos lettuce, sliced into 1cm slices and broken up

2 medium spring onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch freshly chopped coriander

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. Use to dress the vegetables and serve straight away.

Lentil Salad with Celery, Carrots, Chilli and Parsley

This is one of those recipes which really does not sound or look that exciting but always tastes much more than its sum of ingredients.  I think it is the combination of chilli and celery which is such a refreshing mix of hot (spicy) and cold, the nutty lentils and really good olive oil which works so well.

Make sure you choose Lentils which hold their texture when cooked like Le Puy Lentils or Castelluccio.  There should be more vegetables in proportion to the lentils. You can add other vegetables that you have to hand such as peppers of any colour or fennel. Adjust the amounts of all the ingredients according to your taste.

Lentil Salad with Celery, Carrots, Chilli and Parsley

Serves 8 as a side

200g Lentils

200g carrots, chopped very finely

200g celery, peeled and chopped very finely

200g cucumber, seeds removed and chopped very finely

1 Fresh red chilli

1-2 lemons

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Large handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Cook the lentils in plenty of salted cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until just cooked.  Do not over cook as they will not retain their texture which is very important for this salad.  When cooked, drain and allow to cool.  When still warm, mix with the dressing of freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Be generous, it should be quite juicy. Allow to cool completely before mixing with all the other ingredients.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve scattered with a little more freshly chopped parsley.  Try using some leaves of baby gem lettuce as a “spoon.”

Greek Salad

I am over run with herbs at the moment. Ever since setting up my little gardening business, literally making “little gardens”, the bestselling box by far, has been our Summer Herb Garden Box – a little herb box packed with your favourite herbs for cooking, for herbal teas or barbequing. Being a kitchen table business, or in this case a garden table business, my back garden is overflowing with herbs waiting to be planted into our hand-made wooden boxes and delivered.

It is great having herbs on hand growing in your back garden, or even on a window ledge, because you never know when you are going to need them. Like in this fabulous Greek Salad. This is one of my favourite salads because it is so jam-packed with summer. The fresh mint and ripe tomatoes, the oregano and the cool crunchy cucumber, with salty olives and feta, it makes me long to be in Greece, in a little Taverna over-looking the deep blue sea. Still, there are many worse places to be than my back garden surrounded by herbs.

Greek Salad

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, quartered length ways, de-seeded and diced

6 ripe tomatoes cut into bite sizes chunks -8ths or 10ths, depending on size

Large handful of pitted Greek black olives

225g feta, crumbled (I used Wooton White)

1 handful of shelled cooked broad beans

½ bunch of mint, shredded (roll the leaves into a cigar shape and cut through as finely as you can)

For the dressing

Juice of half a lemon

Extra-virgin olive Oil

Fresh chopped oregano or dried

Make the dressing by putting the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add a large pinch or two of salt. Gradually add the olive oil, stirring vigorously all the time. Keep tasting until you have a perfect mix of lemon, salt and oil. Add the sliced onion and marinade whilst you chop the rest of the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, broad beans, mint and feta and carefully stir through. Check for seasoning.

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Super Green Salad with Thai Dressing

I had never heard of fresh Edemame until last week, when I saw them mentioned on Riverford’s Website. I had only ever had the frozen variety, which I love, so I was keen to give them a go and I am pleased to say that they are great. It is so nice to be using fresh, seasonal veg, rather than something from the freezer. I decided to make up a salad in honour of them.

I came up with a Super Green Salad. You are free to play around with the ingredients, as long as they are green. I think asparagus or peas would be a nice addition, when in season, but you could even try adding green apple. I wanted a really zingy, fresh dressing so I turned to Thai flavours for inspiration, with not only fresh lime, but fresh lime leaves as well, to really add zest.

It makes a fabulous lunch on its own, or since my theme this week, is making a little good meat go further, you could add a couple of slices of rare, thinly sliced steak and make it into a Thai Steak Salad. Either way, with all its super healthy ingredients, I think it will leave you feeling good about yourself.

super-green-salad-with-thai-dressing

Super Green Salad with Thai Dressing

Add the ingredients in the quantities the at you like.

A mixture of cooked Wild and Brown Rice  – you can buy this ready cooked if you are in a hurry like me

Cucumber, finely diced

Cooked edamame (the frozen ones are cooked already and only have to be defrosted)

Ripe avocado, finely diced

Spring onion, finely chopped

Pumpkin seeds

Pistachio nuts

Freshly chopped mint

Freshly chopped coriander

Fresh lime leaves, very finely chopped  (large Salisbury’s or Thai Supermarket)

Thai Dressing

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Small piece fresh ginger, finely grated

Add all your salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix up the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl, stirring well to ensure that the sugar is dissolved. Dress the salad. Check seasoning. You may need a little salt or more dressing. Serve immediately.

super-green-salad-with-thai-dressing-1

Kachumber Salad

I go through strange fazes and my latest is Tandoori Chicken! I sort of come across recipes and get stuck on them and then a month later I have forgotten them again for another year or so and I move on to something else. Anyway, I always serve this delicious Kachumber Salad alongside my chicken with some Raita to cut the heat.

But you don’t have to make Tandoori chicken to eat this salad. It works alongside any number of Indian dishes and is great at barbeques. However, here is a link to my famous Tandoori Chicken if you would like to give it a go.

Kachumber Salad 1

Kachumber Salad

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced or a bunch of spring onions, very finely chopped

1 cucumber

1 fresh red chilli, very finely chopped

4 large tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil or Onion Oil

Salt to taste

Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Nigella Seeds

Take your cucumber and cut in half lengthways, remove seeds with a spoon, half again lengthways and then cut into quarter moons.

Add all the rest of the vegetables together. Make a dressing by mixing the lemon juice with the oil.  Season well with salt and mix together with all the rest of the vegetables and coriander.  Do a taste test to see if the seasoning is right for you. Sprinkle with Nigella Seeds.

Tandoori Chicken

Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ with Preserved Lemons

Finally, for this week, I am still experimenting with the cauliflower! I know that we are going to get a lot of cauliflowers in those boxes for the next few weeks and in terms of vegetables replacing carbohydrates, which is quite trendy right now, it is one of the most versatile. Last week I made cauliflower mash and this week I tried out one of my favourite Lebanese salads “Tabbouleh.” The cauliflower replaces the customary Bulgur wheat so it is great for Celiacs too. The main thing to remember though, when making this salad is that it is the herbs which make up bulk of this dish and it is important to get the quantities right so don’t use too much cauliflower. It should be lovely, fresh and herby and I added some preserved lemons for added zing and some pomegranate seeds to mine as well. Preserved lemons are easy to buy now a days, the excellent Belazu brand probably being the most readily available. If, however you have a glut of lemons, and they are just in season and at their best right now, and fancy making your own just follow the link.

Tabbouleh

Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ with Preserved Lemons

4 small preserved lemons and their juice
2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch dill, roughly chopped
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
½ a small red onion, very finely diced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cucumber, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and finely dice
4 tomatoes, remove the seeds and finely dice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Hold the cauliflower by its base and roughly grate the florets on the largest holes of a cheese grater resembling cooked bulgur wheat. A food processor is also great for this.

In a large bowl put all the chopped herbs and the onion. Cut the preserved lemons in half and remove the seeds. Chop them up and add the herbs. Add a good amount of the juice from the jar and some extra virgin olive oil. Add the cucumber and tomato, some salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more lemon etc. Finally add the cauliflower, stir well and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds if using and serve at once.

Cauliflower cous cous

Gazpacho

Salad in a bag

I started this week with a salad bag which had two fat red peppers, a couple of baby cucumbers and some cherry tomatoes, two lovely baby gem lettuce and some cherry tomatoes and I immediately thought – soup!.  What with the sweltering weather this week, of course it had to be cold soup and nothing is more refreshing for lunch on a hot day.

Gazpacho is nothing more than a liquidized salad and you can add all sorts of different ingredients from lettuce to radishes to celery but the basics are red peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. I like to add a small red onion and one garlic clove but be careful because raw onion and garlic, if added too enthusiastically, can overpower the other vegetables. My only other addition apart from salt, pepper, Spanish olive oil and vinegar is a red chilli.

Gaz Salad

So simple, so quick, so delicious and so good for you. Just make sure you take the time to peel the vegetables before liquidizing to get a nice texture. You need a really efficient peeler for this so make sure you invest in a good one with a sharp edge. So many times I see people struggling away with a completely blunt peeler. I like the D shape ones best but if you can’t find a basic one then OXO always seems to make good equipment.

The balance of vinegar is important but just add a little at a time. It should be gutsy and not bland. I use a blend of half-half red wine vinegar to sherry vinegar. You can find some very good sherry vinegar in the supermarket which is worth the money, but for the red wine vinegar you can just go for the cheapest. Finally, it must be very cold. Add an ice cube or two when liquidizing if you are in a hurry.

Gaz in a Bowl Small

Gazpacho

1kg really ripe tomatoes

2 Red Peppers, peel of as much skin as possible with a peeler, de-seed and roughly chop

2 baby or one large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped

1 very small red onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove

1 fresh red chilli, peeled and seeds removed

A generous glug of extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish

A generous glug of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (I like to use half/half)

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make a small cross on top of each tomato with a sharp knife.  Blanch the tomatoes by placing them into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes.  Remove them and refresh in cold water.  Remove the skins.  Add all the other ingredients and either puree in a liquidizer or simply use a hand held blender.  Whiz until completely smooth.  Check seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste.  Chill in the fridge and serve very cold.

Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps

Vietnamesse Wraps closeup

Finally for this week one of my favourite sorts of recipe. It is one of those when you manage to somehow conjure up a delicious dinner from almost nowhere. All I had left in the box was a green Batavia lettuce, some carrots and a cucumber. All I had in the fridge was one fillet steak. We can learn a lot from Asian recipes as they have long understood that meat and fish are costly and they know how to make expensive ingredients go along way. This is of course a healthier way of eating too and the idea that the vegetables should be as important as the accompaniment is very trendy at the moment. Although the list of ingredients often looks long and complicated, it really is store cupboard stuff and it really could not be quicker and easier to make.

Just time for “Kitchen Kit of the Week” – a microplaner is a grater reinvented. The story is, a Canadian housewife decided to use one of her husband’s favourite woodworking tools and discovered that it was the best orange zester she had ever used. There is a whole range available now but I suggest a fine one, for effortlessly grating ginger and lemongrass like you have never seen. Pick one up on Amazon or at Lakeland.

Vietnamese Wraps

Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps

You can make the dipping sauce and marinade the meat the day before.

For the marinade

1 fillet steak

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)

1 tsp caster sugar

1-1½ tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste

For the dipping sauce

1 tbsp. rice vinegar, to taste

2 tsp. caster sugar, to taste

1 tbsp. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

1 stick lemongrass

1 lime, juice only

1 fresh red chilli

For the wraps

1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips or grated

½ cucumber

3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and chopped

½ small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

1 lettuce such as Batavia or baby gem

Lime wedges, to serve

For the marinade, put the steak into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix until coated evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if possible.

Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together. Finely chop the red chilli. If you like it hot then leave the seeds in, if not remove them. Remove any tough outer leaves from the lemongrass and trim the bottom. Grate using a microplaner starting at the bottom and grating until nearly three quarters of the way up. (If you do not have a microplaner, chop very finely). Add with the chilli to your dipping sauce and taste. Adjust the flavours as necessary – adding a little more sugar if it’s too sour, or more rice vinegar or lime juice if too sweet.

Next peel and grate your carrots and cut your cucumber into julienne. A mandolin is good for this. Separate and wash the salad leaves and leave to drain. Pick the leaves off the herbs.

In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat a dash of oil. Shake off any excess marinade from the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes on either side – depending on their thickness and how rare you like your steak. Tip over the marinade and remove and rest on a plate for five minutes.

To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving plate. Fill the lettuce leaves with carrot and cucumber. Add a small handful of herbs. Slice the rested steak, and top each leaf with a slice or two of steak, tipping any resting juices over the top. Serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.

Lettuce

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

Box week 5

Tempted once more but the promise of broad beans, radishes and home-grown mini cucumbers, none of which are quite ready at my allotment, I opted this week for a small vegbox (less roots). It did not disappoint with some of the fattest radishes I have seen, albeit a little dirty, but nothing a quick wash did not fix. Straight away one of my favourite salads came to mind, which I am pretty happy to live of all summer if needs be. This is a basic Fattoush, the famous Arabic bread salad, with a few extras thrown in, namely radishes and broad beans. Remember all these recipes are flexible and you can add what you please including feta if you wished to make it more substantial.

The knack of a good Fattoush is that it should be very juicy and not at all dry. The pitta however should remain crunchy and therefore it must be beautifully crispy before adding, so that it does not become soggy in the salad. If you are not eating the salad straight away, then don’t add the toasted pitta until serving. Don’t forget to top-up from Riverford with all the extras you might need such as red onions, lemons, mint and olive oil.

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

2 pieces of pitta bread

Extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch radishes

1 baby cucumber

2 large tomatoes

100g broad beans in pods

1 small red onion

1 lemon

Small bunch mint

Sumac (optional)

Sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C. Put a small pan of water on to boil. Rip the pitta into small pieces and toss generously in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. You will need to check it regularly and each time shake the tray. Move any well done pieces to the centre and less done pieces to the outer edges, where they will cook quicker. The pitta should be golden brown all over and totally crisp. Meanwhile cut your tomatoes into eighths and put in a large bowl. Wash your radishes and cut them in quarters and add to the bowl. Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut both halves into 1cm slices and add to the bowl. Shell the broad beans and add to the boiling water. Get a large bowl of cold water ready and once the broad beans have boiled for a minute, remove them with a slotted spoon straight into the cold water. This will help retain their lovely bright green colour. Squeeze the juice from half the lemon into another small bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt and stir until dissolved. Add about 2-3 times olive oil to juice. Stir very well and taste. The balance of the dressing is important. If it needs more lemon or salt, then adjust. Peel and very thinly slice the onion and add straight into the dressing. Remember to check your pitta and remove once done. Drain your broad beans slip them out of their skins and add to the salad. Chop the mint and add that too. Finally add the toasted pitta and dress generously. Toss everything together well before serving. Dust with Sumac if you desire.

Bunch of Radishes

 

Some Summer Salads

Although I might spend my days writing about food and photographing it for a living, when it comes to dinner in my house, during the summer months most nights we eat pretty much the same thing – a piece of fish or meat and lots of salad, maybe with the addition of a few boiled new potatoes. I know it may sound repetitive but there is such an array of fantastic salads to choose from that I never tire of them. This simple Cucumber & Radish salad is actually a pickle and the dressing (a combination of rice vinegar, sugar and salt) is the very same mixture which is used to dress sushi rice. If you wanted to make this salad into a more substantial meal, without the addition of fish or meat, you could simply cook some Japanese rice and use a little of the dressing to flavour it.

The second recipe today can be a salsa or a salad. I love it as a salsa on a piece of bruschetta drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or else spooned over some fish or grilled chicken or steak. Both salads work well with salmon, as the acid of the vinegar/lime are excellent at cutting the fattiness of the fish. I particularly like the lightly smoked fresh salmon which you can readily buy now a days. But if you fancy turning this salsa into something more substantial, why not add a couple of avocados to your Riverford order and you have a meal in itself. Don’t forget that Riverford also has an impressive list of herbs at the moment, which always enliven any meal, so get them whilst you can!

Cucumber & Radish Salad

Japanese Style Cucumber & Radish Salad with Sesame

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. caster sugar

1 tsp. sea salt plus a little extra

1/2 a cucumber

5 or 6 fat radishes

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. black or white sesame seeds

Small bunch dill (chopped finely)

Put the rice vinegar, the sugar and the salt in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Thinly slice your cucumber and radishes. (Hopefully you will have invested in a mandolin, as I recommended last week, because these are great for this.) Put the cucumber slices in a colander and season with some salt and leave to drain. The salt will draw out excess water from the cucumber slices which would dilute the dressing. Once the cucumber has slightly collapsed, squeeze gently and put into a bowl. Add the radish and the cooled dressing along with the sesame oil. Check seasoning and mix through the dill and sesame seeds.

Tomato & Coriander Salsa

Tomato, Spring Onion, Chilli, Coriander & Lime Salsa / Salad

6 ripe tomatoes

2 spring onions (or the tops from your bunched onions)

1 lime

Small bunch of coriander

1-2  small fresh red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped

Sea salt

A glug of extra virgin olive oil

2 ripe avocado (for the salad only)

Cut your tomatoes into 8th and chuck them in a bowl. Finely shred the spring onions and add them. Squeeze the juice from the lime and add 1/2  to the tomatoes with a good pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil. Roughly chop the coriander and add that along with i/2 the chilli.  Stir well and check seasoning. Add more chilli and lime to taste. It should be quite pokey.

If you are adding avocado then peel them and chop into large chunks. Squeeze over the last of the lime to stop the avocado discolouring and then stir through well with the tomatoes.

Tomato, Avocado & Coriander Salad