Beetroot Waldorf Salad

I got a juicing box this week but funnily enough it wasn’t a juice which first sprang to mind – it was a salad. A good old fashioned Waldolf Salad. Created at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 not by a chef but by the maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky, the Waldorf salad was an instant success and famously features in Fawlty Towers!

The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise but beyond that no one seems to be able to agree. Some add lettuce, grapes or raisins, often walnuts and most recently the mayonnaise has sometimes been replaced with more healthy alternatives such as yoghurt. Since there are so many variations, I thought I might add my own rather unusual ingredient of beetroot and I thought it worked very well.

Beetroot Waldorf Salad

2 apples, cored and sliced

6 sticks of celery, chopped

2 beetroot, peeled and grated

A handful of walnuts, lightly toasted in the oven

6 Tbsp mayonnaise

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in the apple, celery and beetroot. Scatter with walnuts.

Thousand Island Slaw

When I was a kid one of the first things I ever learnt to make for myself to eat, apart from of course countless cakes and biscuits, was a salad that I recreated from Tootsies burger restaurant in Wimbledon village. They had the highly sophisticated, so I thought at the time, salad mix of red cabbage, grated carrot and most exciting of all – sweetcorn. I suppose that the influence had come from an American slaw, but to me it was revolutionary. And most exciting of all was there was a choice of four dressing. This was back in the day before the idea of “choice” was really embraced in restaurants. French Dressing, Vinaigrette, Blue Cheese or my absolute, total favourite Thousand Island Dressing. I loved the stuff! I still knock up “Thousand Island Slaw” as I have now named it using whatever I have at hand. My kids love it too!

Thousand Island Slaw

A selection of what you have to hand. I recon fresh sweetcorn would be lovely. Just boil the cobs and then cut down the husks to remove the kernels.

Pointed cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage etc. very finely shredded

Carrots, peeled and grated

Thousand Island Dressing

5 tbsp. mayonnaise

2 tbsp. tomato ketchup

Juice of half a lemon

Dash of tobacco

Mix up the dressing ingredients and adjust to your taste. Dress the salad and serve.

Insalata Caprese

Tomatoes are really good for you, so I am always trying to add them to salads, but to tell you the truth, I don’t really like eating them on their own. Cherry tomatoes are fine, but the large ones are just a bit too acidic for me. That is until you put them  together with bufala mozzarella and basil. Once combined I could eat platefuls. Obviously the creamy, mild mozzarella cuts the acidity of the tomato, but it is the big mouthfuls of basil which really make this recipe work. I quite like to add a little vinaigrette but traditionally it is just olive oil. Make sure to season your tomatoes well though.

Insalata Caprese

(serves 4 with bread)

About 600g tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

250g buffalo mozzarella

Small bunch of basil

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices. Cut out the core if it looks chewy. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper leave to sit for 10 minutes, then add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and gently toss with a couple of spoons.

Arrange the tomatoes on a platter, spooning over their juices. Thickly slice the mozzarella and scatter with basil leaves. Drizzle with more oil and season with a little more salt. Serve.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

I never have enough recipes for courgettes so I was pleased to come up with two this week. This really light, refreshing salad is perfect when you are having a BBQ. Just grill the courgettes along side everything else. If you want to make it more substantial scatter with feta or crumble some grilled Halloumi over the top.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

Serves 2

3 courgettes, ends trimmed, cut into long strips, a mandolin is great for this

Extra virgin olive oil

1 fresh red chilli, seeded, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ lemon, juice only

1 lemon zest

handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

Toss the courgette strips in a bowl with the olive oil (just enough to coat the courgette), and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a BBQ or a ridged grill pan until smoking hot and griddle the courgettes in batches, about four minutes per side, being careful not to crowd the grill pan. They should be tender, but with a crunch to them in the middle. If the strips are not quite cooked, leave them on the grill pan for longer, but watch the heat as you don’t want them to burn. Don’t be tempted to move the courgette while it is cooking or you won’t get the char-grill marks across the flesh. Check seasoning.

Mix some lemon juice, olive oil and salt together to make a dressing and use this to dress the griddled courgettes. Add the chilli and mint and lemon zest and serve.

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.”

Kohl Rabi and Carrots Slaw with Coriander and Lime Dressing

I can’t avoid it any more. The dreaded Kol Rabi has turned up in my box this week. I have to admit, I am not a great fan. It’s the smell that gets to me, of old turnips, not the taste which is really unobtrusive and the texture is crunchy and present. So I set about finding the perfect dressing for a Kol Rabi slaw. I wanted something with a bit of an attitude as Jamie Oliver says, something with a bit of guts to camouflage the smell and transform my slaw into something special. After scouring through hundreds of slaw dressings I found this one, which although I was most dubious of due to the strange mix of ingredients – balsamic vinegar with ginger and coriander! And also lime and honey, which always reminds me of cough sweets! But the reviews were glowing. Apparently it comes from TGI Fridays. Unfortunately, that I have ever been to one, so I can’t testify to it being true or not. I made a few changes, including quartering the amount of honey, but I have to say, it made a pretty good Kol Rabi and Carrots Slaw with Coriander and Lime Dressing. Just ready for the BBQ season!

Kohl Rabi and Carrots Slaw with Coriander and Lime Dressing

1 Kohl Rabi, peeled

3-4 carrots, peeled

Dressing

1 fresh chilli, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

Large knob of fresh ginger root, scraped

2 limes, juiced

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Small bunch of coriander

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Whiz the whole lot of dressing ingredients up with a hand blender. Adjust seasoning. Coarsely grate the Kohl Rabi and carrot. A food processor is good for this, but otherwise use a grater. There should be about an even amount of each. Dress and serve.

Kale Caesar Salad

I seem to have been hearing endlessly about this Kale Caesar Salad from The Field Kitchen. First of all I heard how it was the best thing Guy had eaten in years, then the recipe turned up in my box twice and now it is on the Riverford website, so being a great Caesar Salad fan, I thought I’d better give it a go. And, I have to say, it was worth the publicity.

I am not very keen on raw kale, even if it has been scrunched. This popular fad is when you sort of cure your kale by mixing it with salt and lemon juice and leaving it for a while so that it begins to soften a bit and hopefully become a bit more palatable. Often recently I have been served up huge bowls of the stuff in various creations and as I chew my way laboriously through it, someone will inevitably announce “And it is so good for you too!”, to which I always reply, although not usually audibly, “Well thank God it has got something going for it!” But this salad really is a pleasure – and it is good for you too!

Kale Caesar Salad

This makes a huge amount of dressing. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days for other salads, or half the amount.

2 garlic cloves, peeled

10 anchovy fillets or capers

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Juice of 1-2 lemons

2 eggs

250ml olive oil

kale, preferably curly

Parmesan, shaved – use a peeler

For the eggs – 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

For the croutons

A few slices sourdough bread, torn into bit sized chunks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Boil a small pan of water. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Gently crack your eggs straight into the water. Boil gently until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen towel.

Add to a blender (or use a hand blender) the eggs, the anchovies, the mustard, the red wine vinegar and the lemon juice. Blend. Slowly add the oil, bit by bit until smooth and completely blended. Check seasoning. Add salt and pepper if you like. Toss with the kale and leave to sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, heat about an inch of olive oil in a small pan. Add the peeled garlic cloves. Fry until they are golden brown and remove. Add the bread. You may have to fry it in batches. Fry i=until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel. Season lightly with sea salt.

Top the salad with croutons and shaved parmesan.

Roast Butternut Squash and Red Onion Salad with Tahini Dressing

It is nearly Halloween and the fields are full of pumpkins so I thought I would devote this week purely to them. If you are passing any of the four Riverford’s farms celebrating “pumpkin day”, be sure to pay them a visit. Apparently it’s a real family friendly event with plenty to keep everyone entertained, including pumpkin carving, face painting, wildlife spotting, chilli stringing, Christmas food and drink tasters and plenty of organic refreshments. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it as I’m off to Sardinia for, hopefully, a little last sun before winter truly sets in. However, these pumpkin recipes, with their beautiful, bright orange colours, are full of sunshine too.

First up, a variation of salad from Ottolenghi.  Unusually for a Ottolenghi recipe it has surprisingly few ingredients in it (and I even managed to cut some of those down) and it is really very easy and quick. You don’t even have to peel the squash.

roast-butternut-squash-and-red-onion

I wanted to serve my version as a salad so I added couple of handfuls of wild rocket leaves. Remember you can use one of the many different varieties of pumpkin to replace the butternut squash. Try kabocha which also does not need peeling. Don’t forget that Riverford are selling a Squash Box right now with a selection of at least three different varieties for £9.95.

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Roast Butternut Squash and Red Onion Salad with Tahini Dressing

1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges

2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges

50ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

3½ tbsp tahini paste

1½ tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp water

30g pine nuts

A couple of handfuls of salad leaves, such as rocket

A little extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, mixed to make a salad dressing

Heat the oven to 180C. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water & a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency thin cream, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.

To serve, dress the leaves with the salad dressing and scatter them on a large plate. Top with the vegetables. Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Scatter the pine nuts on top.

selection-of-pumpkins

Fig, Salted Almond and Bufala Mozzarella Salad

I get very excited about new produce from Riverford and so, I was thrilled to see that they are now supplying figs from Spain and I couldn’t wait to give them a try.

black-figs-1

This is a super simple salad that we used to serve at The River Café. It is nothing more than an assemblance of fabulous ingredients, but when your ingredients and that good, you really don’t need to do very much to them. I added some salted Catalan almonds, which I always pick up when I see them because they remind me of holidays. (If you can’t find them, you can always make your own.)

salted-catalan-almonds

I also drizzled some truffle honey on my figs. I know this is not for everybody, but if you do like truffles then do check it out. Marks and Spencer stock a really great one for £6. But is you are not a truffle person, a drizzle of aged balsamic works well too. You could play around with the cheese too. I imagine that Burrata would be pretty amazing, but to tell you the truth, I find them just too rich! Tallegglio or even Gorgonzola would be delicious too. What ever you decide to add, I am sure you will agree, it looks beautiful and tastes great.

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Fig, Salted Almond and Bufala Mozzarella Salad

Serves 2

Couple of handfuls of rocket

Few sprigs of fresh mint

Few sprigs

1 ball good quality bufala mozzarella

2 ripe figs

Extra virgin olive oil

Handful of salted Catalan almonds

Drizzle of expensive aged Balsamic or truffle honey

Sea Salt

Mix a little olive oil with a pinch of salt and dress the leaves. Pile on to a large plate and top with slices of mozzarella and fig. Scatter over the almonds and the herbs and drizzle with truffle honey or balsamic vinegar.

black-figs

Pear, Blue Cheese, Endive and Watercress Salad with Candied Pecans

Pears are at their best right now and what better way to have them than in this delicious autumnal Pear, Blue Cheese, Endive and Watercress Salad with Candied Pecans. Sweet pear, salty blue cheese, bitter leaves and crunchy pecans – what a great combination.

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Pear, Blue Cheese, Endive and Watercress Salad with Candied Pecans

Few handfuls of watercress

2 heads of chicory, red or white

½ a lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

1 firm pear

Some candied pecans (or walnuts) recipe below

Blue cheese, such as Stilton or Gorgonzola

Good aged syrupy balsamic vinegar

Pick out and discard any tatty watercress leaves, then place into a serving bowl. Trim the bases of the chicory, then slice them and add to the bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into the jar, removing any pips. Add the extra virgin olive oil to the jar with a pinch of salt. Put the lid securely on the jar and shake well. Have a taste and see whether you think it needs a bit more lemon juice or oil. Dress the watercress and chicory and pile onto a large plate. Cut the pear in half and finely slice, avoiding the core. Scatter with pecans and crumble over the blue cheese. Drizzle over the balsamic and serve.

candied-pecans

Candied Pecans

There are more complicated recipes for Candied Pecans than this, involving egg whites, vanilla and cinnamon, but I think for a salad this recipe is better. You can use walnuts instead.

110g / 1 cup pecan halves

30g / 2 tablespoons butter, salted

30g / 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Melt butter and sugar over medium-high heat. Add pecans and toss to coat. Spread on grease proof paper and toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Stir once or twice whilst cooking. Make sure they do not burn.  Allow to cool.

pears