We don’t know about you, but with a heatwave on the horizon, the only thing we want on our plates right now is cold food – and a vibrant summer salad is top of that list.
But there are only so many lettuce-cucumber-and-tomato mixes one person can take before they get well and truly bored. If you’re looking to expand your repertoire and up your salad game this summer, these are the recipes to try.
Tip #1: just add fruit
Whether it’s watermelon and cucumber, peaches and tomatoes, or strawberries with avocado and spinach, adding fruit can seriously elevate your salad, while bringing a touch of sweetness to the mix. Who doesn’t want a main and dessert all in one go?
Try: Tomato and chargrilled peach salad with buffalo mozzarella and basil-oil dressing (serves 4) from Eat More Veg by Annie Rigg, published by National Trust Books.
“The success of this salad really does depend on the ripeness and flavour of the raw ingredients used,” says Rigg. “The peaches must be ripe and juicy, as should the tomatoes. Chargrilling the peaches really exaggerates their sweetness, which is a wonderful contrast to the cooling creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella. If you happen to have the BBQ lit for something else then by all means use that to cook the peaches.”
For the salad
4 ripe peaches
1-2 tbsp olive oil
good handful wild rocket
200g mixed tomatoes, sliced
2 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella
handful purple basil
freshly ground black pepper
For the basil-oil dressing
Start by making the dressing. Tip the basil into the bowl of a mini processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the garlic and parsley, and whizz again to combine.
Add the lemon juice and half of the oil, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend until almost smooth.
Add the remaining oil and whizz once more. Leave to one side for 30 minutes for all of the flavours to mingle, after which time taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. You can strain the dressing though a fine sieve if you would rather a smooth vibrant green dressing.
Heat a ridged griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Cut the peaches in half, remove the stones and cut the fruit into wedges. Brush the cut sides of the peaches with a little olive oil and cook on the hot griddle pan until nicely charred.
Arrange the rocket on each plate and top with peaches and sliced tomatoes.
Using your hands, tear the mozzarella balls in half and divide between the plates. Spoon the dressing over each salad, scatter with basil and finish with freshly ground black pepper.
Tip #2: don’t be afraid to bring Mediterranean veggies into the mix
If you don’t think of aubergines, squash and courgettes as salad material, it’s time to make the shift. Bringing those bad boys into your life – and salad bowl – is guaranteed to make you feel a lot more enthusiastic about the salad on your plate.
Try: The fat Mo salad (serves 2-4) from Big Zuu’s Big Eats by grime artist Big Zuu, published by BBC Books.
Packed with crispy aubergine slices, juicy tomatoes and tonnes of flavour, this salad will leave you feeling totally satisfied. Plus it’s pretty low-fuss, with just a handful of ingredients to prep.
- 1 large aubergine (about 300g), sliced into 0.5cm rounds
- 75ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 100g cherry tomatoes, roughly diced
- juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- handful of parsley, roughly chopped
- handful of mint, roughly chopped
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Place a griddle pan over a high heat.
Working in batches, place the aubergine slices on the hot griddle and cook for 2 minutes, or until the underside has nicely charred. Turn the slices over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Set the grilled slices aside in a bowl.
When all the aubergine slices have been grilled, toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and set aside while you make the dressing.
To make the dressing, mix together the chilli, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic and herbs with the remaining olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Lay the grilled aubergine slices on a serving plate and drizzle with the garlicky dressing. Serve immediately.
Tip #3: eggs are underrated
Eggs make great additions to salads: this is not a yolk. But there are plain boiled eggs and then there are marinated eggs like the ones featured in this next recipe. Salad = elevated.
Try: Black rice salad with soy eggs, greens and avocado (serves 2-4) from Eat More Veg by Annie Rigg, published by National Trust Books.
“This is a dramatic-looking and super tasty salad,” says Rigg. “The eggs are boiled for 6–7 minutes so that the yolks remain soft, they are then marinated in aromatic soy sauce for up to 24 hours. To make this salad vegan, simply swap the eggs for marinated and fried tofu or tempeh.”
For the salad:
5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic
½ tsp crushed dried chilli flakes
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
2 spring onions
100g black rice (not to be confused with wild rice)
100-150g Tenderstem broccoli
75g sugar snap peas, halved
1 small handful Asian micro herbs (optional)
4 tsp toasted black and white sesame seeds
For the dressing:
Start by cooking the soy-marinated eggs, which can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead. Pour the soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and 250ml water into a small saucepan. Peel the garlic, cut it in half and add to the pan with the chilli flakes. Simmer gently for 5 minutes over a low-medium heat, pour into a jug and set aside.
Rinse the pan, fill with salted water and bring to the boil. Lower the eggs into the boiling water, set the timer and cook for 6 minutes for a runny yolk and up to 7 minutes for slightly firmer. Drain and cool completely under cold running water for about 5 minutes. Carefully peel the eggs and place into the warm marinade then leave for at least 30 minutes until cold. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
Cut the spring onions into fine matchsticks and pop into a bowl of iced water for 1 hour until curly.
Cook the black rice in salted boiling water for about 15 minutes (or according to the pack instructions) until tender. Drain and cool under cold running water. Drain again and set aside. Refill the pan with salted water, bring to the boil and blanch the Tenderstem broccoli for 30 seconds. Add the sugar snaps and cook for a further 30 seconds. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain again and dry on kitchen paper.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine the rice, broccoli and sugar snaps in a bowl, mix with two-thirds of the dressing and spoon into a serving dish. Slice the avocado and arrange on top with the drained curly spring onions and micro herbs.
Drain the soy-marinated eggs, roll in the toasted sesame seeds to coat, cut in half and arrange on the salad. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad and serve.