Err, so this summer’s menu has consisted mostly of mini Weetabix and BLT sandwiches. Not that I haven’t had time to cook, but baking a baby (we’re almost there!), moving house and scorching temperatures sucked all the energy out of me. I have made one thing on the regular because it takes less than 30 minutes start to finish and is oh-so-delicious and decadent. It ain’t cheap to make, but when the rest of your meals are bowls of cereal it averages out.
I’ve adapted this recipe from Jamie Oliver; he describes it as a starter, but we usually eat it as a main summer salad for two. I bulk it out with more greens and use jamón ibérico instead of parma ham, which c’mon, we all know is the best thing ever.
- 4 peaches
- quality olive oil
- sea salt (flakes if you got ’em)
- cracked pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- 125 g ball of buffalo mozzarella
- 100 g jamón ibérico
- 125 g arugula or mesclun
- a couple of sprigs of mint, leaves picked
Pre-heat the oven (top + bottom elements) to 200ºC/450ºF. Vertically halve and destone the peaches, then lie them cut-side up in a snug-fitting roasting tray. Drizzle with oil, a bit of salt, slide into the hot oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until charred and sticky. Keep an eye on them and rotate the tray for even cooking.
In the meantime, squeeze the juice of half a lemon, double as much olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste into a jar with a sealable lid and shake-shake-shake. Usually when the peaches are done roasting I add a tablespoon or two of the peach juices from the pan to the jar, the sugar from the juice helps emulsify the dressing.
Divide the greens on plates, lie the peaches cut side up on the greens, tear the mozzarella up and pop a chunk on top of each peach. Arrange the jamón around the salad and drizzle the whole lot with the dressing. Sprinkle the mint leaves on top and serve straight away.
Servings: Two as a main meal or four as a starter.
This recipe is a lunchtime favorite in our office. It comes from my boss’s husband, he’s the cook in their family. We have a little kitchenette at work, so quick & easy cold salads like this are ideal. You also save loads of money on going out to lunch! Although one time I did remark to my friend and colleague, Becky, that “we’ve had smoked salmon TWICE this week!” and her reply was “think about what you’ve just said.” First world problems, indeed.
- 250 grams cooked lentils
- 100 grams smoked salmon, “deshebrado” or cut/shredded into little pieces
- 75 grams capers in their juice
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 TB quality olive oil
- 1 TB balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- cracked black pepper, to taste
Combine lentils, salmon pieces, capers, tomatoes, oregano and black pepper in a bowl. Stir together well and then dress with olive oil and vinegar. There is no need to add salt as the ingredients are already quite briny.
The salad makes a nice accompaniment to Wasa crackers and soup, it’s hearty and filling without being heavy.
Servings: Four. 188 calories.
We eat quite a bit of salad, particularly because produce is so good (and cheap) here. I’m not too keen on plain lettuce salads, so our salads are normally heavy on veg and light on lettuce. I also like mixing sweet and savoury, which means we use a lot of fruit and nuts as well. This salad uses seasonal autumn/winter ingredients. It’s also quite light and the flavors are bright, so it’s a nice balance to something heavier.
- one pomegranate, de-seeded
- one bulb of fennel, trimmed, core removed and thinly sliced
- 2 mandarins, peeled and sliced thinly
- a bag of mixed salad greens (bitter greens like escarole, arugula, radicchio work best)
- 20 grams of shelled pistachios, crushed lightly
- 100 grams soft goat’s cheese (chèvre), crumbled or cut into 1/2″ chunks
- 2 TB cold-pressed olive oil
- 1 tsp grainy mustard
- 2 TB balsamic vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced finely
- 1/2 tsp each sea salt and ground pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, mustard, shallots, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until it emulsifies. In a larger bowl, add the lettuce and pour the salad dressing over it, then gently mix the dressing into the lettuce using your hands. You think I’m joking, I’m not. If you use your hands the salad dressing distributes more evenly. Wash your oily hands. Finally, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds (called arils, word of the day!), fennel, mandarin, pistachios and goat’s cheese over the top of the lettuce. The salad is very pretty so don’t toss it until just about to serve.
Servings: Four. 225 calories.
I like that weird shredded/stick-formed fake crab stuff a lot. What’s it called? Krab, surimi, I have no idea. There are probably better things for you, but in the grand scale of things it’s not that bad. I also really love seafood salad. It reminds me of being a kid, in fact this recipe is based on my mom’s. My version can be converted into either a cold pasta salad or used as a sandwich filling, handy!
- 120 grams of shredded Krissia (that’s the brand of fake crab we’ve got here)
- 1 can of low-salt white/albacore tuna
- 1/4 to 1/2 red onion, finely diced (my advice is to add less onion first and then taste, as too much strong onion can overpower everything)
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 TB capers, drained and roughly chopped
- 2 TB mayonnaise
- 2 TB Philadelphia light cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- cracked black pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients thoroughly together in a medium-sized bowl. I use a fork in order to flake the tuna properly and get the Philadelphia mixed in evenly. Did you know that light Philly cheese has half the calories of mayo? And it gives the salad a nice creamy texture as well. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to give the flavors a chance to mingle.
1. Sandwich filling. This is pretty obvious, right? Nom.
2. Pasta Salad: Boil about 100 grams (two handfuls, approx) of macaroni or small shell type pasta. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, throw in a big handful of frozen peas. Seafood pasta salad is incomplete without peas. Drain pasta well and fold gently with seafood mixture. Allow to chill thoroughly before serving.
Servings: Two. Calories: plain salad – 250, sandwich using whole wheat bread – 324, pasta salad with peas – 455
A big thanks to my mother who recommended I call this recipe Tortellini Salad rather than “Pasta & Salad,” which what we usually refer to it as. Not too inventive calling it by its component parts, but whatever. The henceforth to be called Tortellini Salad is one of our standard midweek dinners as it takes less than 15 minutes to make, is relatively healthy and darned tasty.
- Fresh tortellini pasta – we use Giovanni Rana brand, our preferred kind is Gorgonzola & Walnuts but this recipe also goes well with the Pear & Cheese flavor.
- A bag of salad – we prefer straight up arugula for its peppery kick, but any mix of baby greens will do.
- Two medium sized tomatoes, chopped coarsely (again, don’t use Roma tomatoes for eating raw, they are for cooking!) or approx 6 cherry tomatoes per person.
- Olive oil – best quality, cold pressed.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt (Maldon if you’ve got it) and pepper
Cook the pasta according to instructions (the kind we use takes a whopping one minute) and drain. In two plates divide the salad mix and tomatoes, then divide the hot pasta over the top. The hot/cold works nicely! Dress salad with a bit of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, to taste. That’s it, time to eat!
Servings: Two. 540 calories per serving.