London has finally been having a summer in recent weeks – the first proper one since we moved here back in 2006. Fantastic news! Unfortunately our flat seems to retain heat in summer as efficiently as it loses it in winter…how is that possible?! I’m loathe to turn on the oven for fear of increasing the inferno-like temperatures further. The only exception has been to cook a delicious loaf of fig bread (more on that later) which was so tasty it was worth turning the flat into a sauna for a night. Other than that one exception, we have mainly been living on salads and stove-top cooked suppers, making the most of all the delicious fresh fruit and vegetables around at this time of year.
There are two salads that I can’t wait to make again…
The first one is based on a recipe from my brand new recipe book, “The Smitten Kitchen”, (so much deliciousness inside!) called “Snap Pea Salad with Miso Dressing” which looked delicious from the first read. Unfortunately I didn’t have any miso paste so adapted a bit and the result was one of the most delicious green vegetable salads I have ever eaten (as evidenced by the fact 2 of us managed to eat a salad meant for 4 with ease). Given the lack of miso I’ve re-named it “crunchy veg slaw with a sesame dressing” to be more true to content.
The second is based on a salad I had about 5 years ago in South Africa – Butternut, Bacon and Goats Cheese Salad. Now you might think the USA does super-size but this salad was large enough to feed a small family and came as a starter. Despite this, I managed to hoover it down pretty effectively with barely a pine nut left on the plate before tucking into a main course of a pizza…oink oink.
Crunchy Veg Slaw with Sesame Dressing
Based on the Smitten Kitchen Snap Pea Salad with Miso Dressing
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main
For the salad:
½ a pointed cabbage, cut into thin ribbons
100g radishes, thinly sliced
4 salad onions, thinly sliced into rounds
150g sugar snap peas
100g fine green beans
3-6 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a frying pan for about 5 mins.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 ½ tablespoons rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
½ tablespoon water
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the sugar snap peas and green beans. Cook for 2 minutes before draining and cooling off either in an ice bath or just under cold running water (I did the latter).
- Cut the beans and peas into small slices on the diagonal.
- Add to a bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Make the dressing by adding all of the dressing ingredients to a jar and shaking up. If the dressing is too thick, add a little more water to loosen up.
- When you’re ready to eat, add the dressing to the salad and mix well.
Butternut, Bacon and Goats Cheese Salad
120g moderately hard goats cheese (I used one by Soignon), cut into thin slices
1 small butternut squash
2 medium red onions
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
50g pine nuts, toasted (in a frying pan or under a grill for a couple of minutes)
12 slices smoked streaky bacon, cut into chunks and cooked until crisp
200g baby spinach leaves
12 sundried tomatoes, cut into slices, oil reserved
20 pitted Kalamata or other type of olives
1 avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°c (180°c fan). Peel, de-seed and cut the butternut squash into bite size chunks. Peel and cut the red onions into wedges. Put into a roasting tin with a drizzle of olive oil to coat them, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 mins until soft, giving them a mix about half way through.
- Once the butternut squash and onions are ready, set aside to cool and assemble the rest of the salad in a bowl, adding the squash and onions once cool to touch.
- To dress, pour over about 6 tablespoons of the oil from the sundried tomato bottle and a good splash of balsamic vinegar and mix well before serving immediately. Delicious served with fig bread.