Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A selection of salads


I am suffering from a blogging backlog. I have too much to write about and the longer I leave it, the longer the list becomes. Take tonight for example. I am sitting at the computer with a huge bowl of homemade blackberry ice cream. It is the first ice cream I've made with the machine given to me by friends for my birthday. It is soo delicious and I'm struggling not to tell you all about it here and now but there is still so much to write about the party at the weekend - so many recipes to share. And as for my holiday in Wales... well I've hardly started.

Anyway, I hope you'll forgive me for blogging about three salads at once in a bid to catch up with myself. Perhaps it would be easier if I just stopped eating for a week or so, then I wouldn't build up any more foodie thoughts.... No. I'd still be dreaming of food; it wouldn't work...

In truth, I made four salads on Sunday for the buffet, but one was a tomato and basil salad and I hardly think I need to write much about that. I've included the photo though as I so love the colours. The other three are worthy of note though (I think). Firstly, a cucumber salad. Very simple but really rather good in a pure sort of way.

Cucumber salad

Peel a cucumber and slice thinly. Sprinkle over plenty of salt and leave for an hour.
Drain in a sieve, rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry.
Dress the salad with finely chopped parsley, vinaigrette made with 1 tablespoon wine vinegar to 3 of oil (of choice) and a pinch of salt. Season with freshly ground pepper.

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Kate's Salad (Broccoli salad with sugar-snap peas and spring onions)
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Unusual this one. I have my dear friend Kate to thank for this. It is always a winner, even with those who don't usually care for salads. A male friend who shall remain nameless admitted that he 'saw all the raw broccoli and gave it a wide birth' until his girlfriend persuaded him to give it a try. Needless to say it was one of buffet dishes he enjoyed most and was even to be heard asking for the recipe (although only when out of earshot of any of his testosterone-filled, salad-hating male counterparts!).
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It may sound like an unlikely combination, but I urge you to try it. Its not the healthiest of salads (all that cheese, mayo and sugar), but you can use low-fat mayo and use slightly less sugar if you wish. The sweetness of the dressing is fairly key though. I find that children like this too (if you leave out the spring onions) with the crunchy sugar-snap peas a real hit.

Ingredients

1 large head of broccoli (or 2 small)

1 packet of sugar-snap peas (2 large handfuls)

1 medium bunch spring onions (salad onions/scallions)

1 large handful grated Cheddar cheese

Equal quantities of mayonnaise, red wine vinegar and caster sugar

1. Chop the broccoli into tiny/mini-florets. As small as you can... I'd say this photo was almost life-size, post-chopping.

2. Chop the sugar snap peas into 3 or four pieces. Slice the spring onions. Mix vegetables together.

3. Mix the dressing ingredients together (probably 3 tablespoons of each for this quantity). You may want to add a little more vinegar, but the dressing should be fairly thick.

4. Pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese over the top. If you are making a large quantity, you may wish to sprinkle cheese half way through the salad too (i.e. make it in layers).

Rocket salad with roasted red onions, pine nuts and Parmesan

No photo of this one, but its another winning combination that is very moreish. I served it without the Parmesan for the party, but it is great with the Parmesan shavings for a dinner party starter.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)

1 large bag of rocket or watercress, spinach and rocket salad leaves

2 large red onion

Handful of pine nuts

Balsamic vinegar

Olive Oil

Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Chop onions into chunks (in half and then each half into quarters). Place in roasting tin, drizzle with good helping olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes - until soft and caramelised.

2. Meanwhile, dry-roast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry, oil-free frying pan over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally and watch carefully (it is easy to burn them). This releases more flavour than serving them un-roasted.

3. Chop the pine nuts coarsely and pour into a small bowl. Pour over a good slosh of balsamic vinegar (around 3-4 tablespoons).

4. When the onions are ready, remove from oven and scrape into a bow. Whilst still warm, pour over the pine nut and balsamic dressing. Taste to see if you need to add a little oil (I generally find the onions are coated in enough oil and do not need any further added to the dressing).

5. On four serving plates, layer the salad leaves with the sticky onions followed by shavings of Parmesan then more leaves, onions, cheese etc. Finish with a few shavings of Parmesan.

Notes - for a dinner party starter, I like to serve this with the onions warm. For a big side salad, they can be cool.

Tomato, basil and thyme salad with three types of tomatoes

2 comments:

Hannah said...

Thanks for posting on my blog Antonia - it meant that I have now found your blog too which is just lovely - so many new recipes to try! I laughed that you are sitting at your computer with home made icecream as I am sitting at mine with home made damson and clotted cream ice cream! Yum yum

Margaret said...

I'm always on the look out for new salads to try out. Those all look and sound amazing.