Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 19 August 2016

Salad Days: This summer's salad hits

It's a while since I've blogged about salad, so I've jotted down a quick post about some of our favourite discoveries this year for future reference.

The book


Leon Happy Salads book cover
It's a treat when I go to London to eat at Leon as their salads and wraps are fantastic. It's been great to bring their salad ideas closer to home via their latest book. I'm particularly pleased to see their superfood salad featured as it's one of my regular choices.

There are five chapters which feature classic recipes, fast, lunchbox (recipes for 1), friends, and family; plus sections for adding crunch to your salad, and ideas for dressings.

Most of the ingredients are readily available, but be prepared to improvise if some of the more unusual ingredients - I'm looking at you sumac and pomegranate molasses - aren't for you.

Our regular favourite this summer is Chicken Caesar Salad (without the anchovies or bacon) from the classic recipes chapter, which brings me on to...


Making it crunchy


Crispy croutons
Good croutons are a vital ingredient for a great Caesar salad. My approach is to use a non-stick frying pan to make them instead of the usual oven method. It's a great alternative for making a small batch of fresh croutons as and when needed, and much quicker too.

I drizzle over some olive oil over the chopped up bread in the pan, then add a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, whack the heat up high and then keep the bread pieces moving until they're browned and crispy.

Then I take them off the heat and sprinkle over freshly grated parmesan to taste. The knack here is to keep the croutons moving so they're kept separate whilst taking on their cheesy coating.

My regular variations are to add dried herbs to taste, and/or a few garlic leaves snipped small to the mix, along with the freshly ground pepper.

Food yards, not miles


Lemon balm running riot on my patio
One of our favourite lunches currently is a classic Greek Salad (this recipe is the closest to my ad hoc assemblage, minus the red onion).

The patio is awash with self-seeded lemon balm, which I use chopped up finely instead of lemon juice for a quick salad dressing.

As you can see, there's still plenty left over for the bees to love!

My simple salad dressing consists of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, around a tablespoon of finely chopped lemon balm leaves, plus a few snipped green garlic leaves (when available) also sourced from my 'food yard' patio.

What are your summer favourites this year?

You may also like: My 52 Week Salad Challenge Page with plenty of GYO salad inspiration, including my simple 4-Step Salad Guide to help you make lots of different salads.

6 comments:

  1. Ah... using lemon balm as a lemon substitute for salads is a good idea :) I have plenty of it in the garden, which I used for other things, but I have never thought of using it in salads!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Emma, I'm surprised I haven't come up with the idea earlier as it self-seeds so freely on our patio. I rarely buy lemons so this is a good way for that lovely lemon lift for lots of things... lemon tea is another favourite :)

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  2. My favourite salad at the moment is grated Carrot with cherry tomatoes, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, served with my own Honey Mustard dressing.

    I'm looking for a book on simple salads to help me explore them more. Do you think the Leon one would be a good option?

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  3. That sounds yummy Gwenfar... and something I'll try with our tea tonight. I do like the Leon one, it has a good mix of classic and more innovative recipes. I also like Hamlyn's 200 Super Salads book - 200 salad ideas for £4.99. You can pick it up for 1p + p&p on Amazon, but I know you like to avoid that company... so, it's £4.75 on The Hive and £4.22 on Wordery, both with free p&p. The latter company is part of a big GB company that does pay its taxes and also supplies independent bookshops and libraries with their books.

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    Replies
    1. Oooh, thanks for those tips VP, I'll look them up on Hive. I haven't heard of Wordery, will look them up too. Yes, I like to shop at those places that pay their taxes and/or support independents - you know me well!

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    2. I confess Wordery is a subsidiary company of one of my clients, which is how I came to hear about them when they started up just over 3 years ago. I don't get anything for recommending them AND I am one of their customers :)

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