Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Seasonal salad recipes

Visiting my parents for dinner on the weekend, I came into possession of a large quantity of home-grown veg: an enormous cabbage, a big bundle of ruby chard (like Swiss chard but with pinky-red stems), a bunch of incredibly peppery rocket, and three types of beans (broad beans, runner beans, and some unusual black-podded beans which I have never come across before).

Given all the not-so-healthy 'research' eating I've been doing for this blog, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to experiment with some healthy salad recipes:

Ruby chard, lentil, beetroot and feta salad


Large bundle of ruby chard (can be substituted with Swiss or rainbow chard)
Chopped beetroot, pre-cooked (sold in packs of four - I used three in this salad)
Most of a pack of feta cheese (around 150g), crumbled
1/3 sachet of ready-to-eat beluga lentils
Black pepper

Rinse the swiss chard and pat dry. Roughly chop, retaining the red stems. Steam the swiss chard for approximately 4 minutes (or boil for 2-3 minutes if you don't have a steamer). The stems may take slightly longer to cook than the leaves, so pop them back in for a minute or so if you feel that they are not 'done'.

Leave the swiss chard to cool, then layer into a large dish. Top with chopped beetroot, crumbled feta, and a generous sprinkling of beluga lentils. I cheated and bought a sachet of pre-cooked lentils, but feel free to cook from scratch if you are more the domestic goddess (or god!) type...Season and serve (the feta is fairly salty, so I only used black pepper)

Rocket, basil, tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad with mustard vinagrette


Rocket leaves
Baby plum tomatoes (I usually find these to be sweeter and firmer than cherry tomatoes)
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella
Basil leaves
Salt & pepper

Heaped teaspoon grain mustard
Generous glug of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Wash and pat dry the rocket leaves (if they're from the garden, that is - skip this step for the normal 'packet' variety). Halve the baby plum tomatoes, tear up a handful of basil leaves, and toss with the rocket leaves in a salad bowl. Chop the buffalo mozarella balls and gently fold into the salad, retaining some to layer on top.
Season and drizzle with the vinagrette to serve (or, for a simpler alternative, sprinkle with some good quality olive oil and a big pinch of rock salt).

Warm broad bean and runner bean salad with yoghurt and mint dressing


Broad beans
Runner beans
Parmesan (to serve)

Yoghurt and mint dressing:
200g pot of yoghurt (not low-fat)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Plenty of salt and pepper

Shell the broad beans and 'de-string' the runner beans (that is, pull the fibrous part from the edge of the pod). Cut the runner beans into pieces, roughly an inch in length. Add to a pan of boiling, salted water, and leave to cook for around 5 minutes. Drain, add to a large bowl, and leave to cool, before sprinkling with grated parmesan cheese. In the meantime, make the yoghurt and mint sauce.

Put the yoghurt into a small bowl. Add the crushed garlic, the juice of half a lemon, a decent amount of salt and black pepper, and stir. Chop the mint leaves and fold into the yoghurt mixture, retaining a whole sprig of mint for decoration. Serve alongside the bean salad.

The salads - which I served to my dad, brother and boyfriend, alongside a plate of toasted pitta breads - went down pretty well, depsite some initial complaints about the lack of meat. They could also work well as a starter or side dish: the swiss chard salad would have gone well with grilled salmon fillets, while the rocket salad would have made a good accompaniment to a juicy steak.