With the sun beating down on us all day and the heat steadily rising, it's about time we dusted off the old salad spinner and prepared a few cooling summer salads. I was pleasantly surprised walking around my local supermarket the other day at the many different varieties of lettuce and salad leaves available. You don't even have to go through the hassle of cleaning your lettuce as you can buy ready mixed salad leaves, full of different flavours, textures and colours all cleaned and ready to eat. All you need to do is drizzle the leaves with a little dressing at the last minute and tuck in. When buying lettuce look for fresh, blemish–free leaves and avoid those that droop or wilt. Buy them on the same day as they are highly perishable and deteriorate very quickly. Salad leaves do a body good, some have high levels of vitamin c (such as watercress) and calcium. Others contain substantial amounts of potassium, vitamin a, beta carotene and add much-needed fibre to the diet. So mix it up a little-try baby spinach leaves with an anchovy dressing, frise (curly endive) with crispy bacon and mustardy-lemony vinaigrette. Iceberg lettuce, a crisp head lettuce with an excellent dense, crunchy texture and a pale green colour is great for seafood cocktails and adds a crunch to mixed salads. Little gems, a small compact lettuce with crispy, round leaves and a distinct flavour perfect in waldorf salads with celery, apple, walnuts and mayonnaise. My favourite salad leaf is rocket, a strong, peppery leaf with jagged-edged leaves and a pleasant bite. it goes well with Mediterranean ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Majorca produces a wonderful wild rocket called “rucula selvetica” the leaves are smaller than standard rocket leaves and have a stronger, peppery flavour. They go particularly well with goat's cheese but can also be included in pasta, fish or meat dishes. It's a rich source of iron as well as vitamins a and c, so break out the salads this summer, stay cool and stay healthy.

(Russian salad serves 4)
400g potatoes
200 carrots, peeled and diced
100g cooked peas
100g cooked French beans, chopped
1 boiled egg, peeled and chopped
2 small tins of tuna
150ml mayonnaise
Boil the potatoes in their skins until just cooked. Drain and leave to cool.
Boil the diced carrots until just cooked, drain well and place in a large bowl.
Add the cooked peas, chopped beans and tuna meat to the carrots.
Peel and dice the potatoes and add them to the other vegetables.
Fold in the mayonnaise, chopped egg and refrigerate until required.

GRILLED TUNA (serves 4)
4 pieces of middle cut fresh tuna (200g each)
30g black olives
100g fresh French beans, trimmed and blanched
8 salted anchovy fillets
4 ripe plum tomatoes
4 quail eggs, boiled for 2 minutes and peeled
1tspn: capers
8 new potatoes, boiled and cut in half
50ml olive oil
Cut the tomatoes into 8 wedges and place them in a large bowl, add the French beans, new potatoes, black olives, capers and anchovies. Drizzle with the olive oil and gently mix all the ingredients together, season with freshly ground black pepper. Carefully, place 4 neat piles of salad in the middle the plates.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying or griddle pan. Season the tuna fillets and pan fry or grill the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side. the tuna should still be pink in the middle. Place the tuna fillets on top of the salads, cut the quail eggs in half and place them on top of the tuna and garnish with a few rocket and chervil leaves.



FRUIT OIL (serves 6)
3 fresh squid (cleaned and diced)
18 new potatoes (boiled)
18 thin slices of chorizo “iberico” 6 bunches of rocket leaves
Pulp of 6 passion fruits
150ml orange juice
150ml olive oil
Pumpkin puree:
500g pumpkin flesh
6 anise seeds
To make the pumpkin puree, cover the pumpkin with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and just cooked. Drain the pumpkin well and lightly toast the anise. Add the seeds to the pumpkin flesh and pass through a fine sieve. Season to taste.

To make the passion fruit oil, place the passion fruit pulp and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently and reduce until it just starts to thicken. Pass through a fine sieve and whisk in the olive oil.

Season to taste.
Heat a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan. Cut the cooked potatoes in half lengthways and add a little olive oil and seasoning.
Place them on the griddle pan and grill for 1-2 minutes. Turn them over and add the diced squid. Grill the squid for 30 seconds on each side then add the chorizo slices to warm them through. Place all the warm ingredients in a bowl add a few drops of passion fruit oil, rocket leaves and mix well.

To serve, place a spoonful of pumpkin puree in the middle of 6 warmed plates. Divide the salad between the plates, drizzle with a little passion fruit oil and serve.


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