I have been in love with pears in more savoury applications since last century’s fascination with putting them in salads, soups and baked dishes. Today we bring pears and apples together in a salad with a creamy yoghurt and cucumber dressing. A crunchy salad that will brighten anybody’s day.
I am a great fan of wasabi – anything hot for that matter. Horseradish, mustard, wasabi. I like it when it gets up your nose and leaves you breathless with its heat. Now you don’t have to like it as hot and pungent as I do – in this snack/salad you can temper the taste to your own preferences.
It is a lovely dish, put together in 3 or 4 minutes, perfect for Summer evenings or any time the weather has a bit of heat in it. Use zucchini or red or white radishes – they work equally well.
The idea came from one of my loved books – Jam Today Too, by Tod Davies. A treasure trove of easy to make dishes with at-hand ingredients.
This beautiful salad is one of Ottolenghi’s simplest dishes. Appropriately, it is from his book Simple. You can make it in just over 5 minutes – perfect for a weekday evening, and spectacular at a weekend BBQ, picnic or lunch.
The quality of the ingredients make this dish, so you’ll need the best tomatoes – preferably home grown ones if possible – as well as the best sherry vinegar you can afford.
The salsa is glorious spooned on all sorts of dishes, from toast topped with mozzarella and/or avocado to lentil salads and pasta dishes. So double or triple the quantities when you make it. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
As I mentioned, this is an Ottolenghi dish from Simple – note that we feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. If you want to check his original recipe, see his books and Guardian column.
Browse all of our Tomato Salads, and all of our Ottolenghi dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Simple are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.
We have a strange green bean growing – its pod is green with flecks of red. It is delicious, as all green beans are, and perfect for this salad from Ottolenghi. You can of course use any green bean – the beans are paired with either edamame, younger broad beans or even peas. The key to the salad is a beautiful dressing made with lime zest, lime juice, coriander, mint, garlic and chillies! Oh, yes, you just might get excited.
Once the beans are trimmed, it is quite simple to make. Of course it is, it is from Ottolenghi’s book Simple. 10 ingredients, quick and it can be made ahead (see the notes below the salad). Note that I often massage Ottolenghi’s recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar dishes include Summery Grain or Lentil Salad, Sea Spaghetti, Cucumber and Edamame Salad, Italian Green Bean Salad, Green Bean Salad with Asparagus, Spring Salad, and Glorious Green Bean Salad.
Purslane, Portulaca Oleracea, is an edible succulent plant that spreads vigorously. The leaves are crunchy with a tangy lemon-peppery flavour. It pops up in gardens here from December (early Summer) through to Autumn. It is prolific in my garden, so much so that I can pull the whole plants out when young, nip off the root and use the stem and leaves. For larger plants, stems are picked and leaves removed. You should always wash it really well as it is such a ground-hugging plant.
Pick them early in the day for best flavours. If I need to pick them later in the day, I will cover them in water for an hour or so until they perk up and lift their heads. Don’t soak any longer, they turn to mush (being a succulent).
In some parts of the world you can buy Purslane in green groceries but in Australia that is not the case. So you can forage alongside footpaths and in parks and green areas, but always be careful that it has not been sprayed. The best way is to purchase some seed, or gather it from flowering foraged plants, and grow in your own garden. Once you have planted it in your garden you will always have it. It grows best in warm to hot, dry climates.
It is used around the world, from Greece to Mexico, South Africa, India and Turkey. It is a nutritional medicine cabinet in a plant with remarkable amounts of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is mainly used raw but is also cooked in some places, such as India.
We’ve put together some of our favourite salads using Purslane to inspire you. Be sure to let us know how you use it and which salads are your favourite. Don’t forget that you can use Purslane to replace other sour or lemony ingredients such as sorrel in salads and other dishes.
Ottolenghi recently wrote an article for the New Yorker called Ottolenghi’s Simplest Recipes. It’s a funny, tongue in cheek article about his recipes and the way that people complain about the complexity and number of ingredients. And about the way that they change all the ingredients and then make commentary on them.
I am certainly guilty of the first, and have gotten over the second – mostly. I still sigh if I have to go shopping for a dish when I want to make it right now and there is some ingredient my pantry is not stocking atm. Having cooked a significant number of Ottolenghi’s dishes, I have moved on from strict adherence to his dishes to shaking them up to suit what is cheaper in our part of the world, what is in the pantry or fridge or on the kitchen bench, and what I can pick from the garden.
This recipe had its genesis in Ottolenghi’s first book Ottolenghi. But it is not recognisable as his any more. I’ve removed the non-vegetarian item, and used greens from our garden rather than the expensive (in my area) greens that he uses. I am ticking the recipe off in the book, but really only the dressing (fabulous) and the peaches are recognisable in the original. If you are looking for the original, check his books or his Guardian column.
The key here is to use sweet peaches (yellow-fleshed or a mix of yellow and white) that are at their peak, with none of that floury texture that they can have when unripe. It’s a dish that’s dazzling in its blend of colours and textures, and works well as a starter.
For barley lovers, a beautiful salad. Such a simple salad to make, if you are comfortable with soaking and cooking the barley and cannellini beans. To make it even easier, canned beans can be used. Just warm them through before mixing with the barley.
Similar recipes include Toasted Barley and Pistachio Pilaf, Broccolini Risotto, Summery Grain or Lentil Salad, Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, Grain and Grape Salad, and Buckwheat and Broccolini Salad.
We can’t go past a great potato salad, right? Being a country girl, potato salads were at every community and family gathering – chunks of potato with creamy home-made mayonnaise (from home-produced ingredients) and garden-fresh herbs.
Our salad today is a French Potato Salad recorded by Elizabeth David in French Provincial Cooking. The potatoes are cooked then sliced and liberally dressed with oil and vinegar. It is absolutely divine. The salad can also be dressed with a thin mayo if you are definitely the mayo-only-dressing for potato salads.
For this salad, use waxy varieties or potatoes as they hold their shape when cooked, for example:
- Dutch varieties
- Desiree Potatoes
Today’s salad could really be called a Garden Salad, because the radishes and the purslane come from my side garden. Both grew abundantly in our garden this year. It is a salad flavoured with citrus juice and kalonji seed adds crunch and a visual element. You could use black sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you prefer. Kalonji can be found at any Indian grocery store.
Similar recipes include How to Use Purslane in Salads, Ghol Takatli Bhaji, Summery Grain or Lentil Salad, Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pecans, Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts, and Purslane Salad with Tomatoes.
Greek salads are fabulous, are they not? Of course, even though there is a lot of controversy about whether tomatoes are included or whether cucumbers should be peeled. Should lettuce be included? The jury is out.
Like any country, the exact methods of salad making vary across the country, so it is good to relax and go with the flow. It is Summer after all, and there is nothing like a great Greek Salad (whatever version) to nibble on or to accompany a meal. I do include lettuce sometimes – it makes a nice bed for the salad.