Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Salad Days

Don't spend the sunny weekends of Summer, slaving over a hot stove. Salads nowadays are a little more adventurous than simply lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and a blob of coleslaw. Which some of us may remember from our younger days.
One platter salads to share make a fantastic, al fresco, family meal and can be prepared in advance or, with some salads, the night before and kept in containers, in the fridge, ready to assemble.

So lounge outside with something cool this Summer. Try some homemade lemonade (see my post about picnics for the recipe on 26 April 2009) and make sure you don't sizzle.

Spicy Moroccan Chickpea and Cous Cous Salad


400g cous cous, soaked in 1 pint of boiling water for 10 minutes, drained and cooled
1 aubergine, diced
3tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp Harissa paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp Thyme, chopped
2tbsp raisins
6 ready to eat apricots, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2tsp clear honey
1 tin chick peas

Cook the aubergine, Thyme and garlic in 1tbsp olive oil until softened, leave to cool
Make the dressing with 2tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1tbsp Harissa paste and 2tsp clear honey. Mix well and stir into the cous cous. Add the drained chickpeas, chopped apricots, raisins, diced aubergine and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir well to mix. Pile onto a platter and serve with toasted pitta bread.

If you are having a barbecue serve this salad with lamb kebabs and stir some chopped mint into the salad

Quick Tuna and Bean Salad

2 cans tuna in sunflower oil, drained and flaked
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed in cold water
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
5tbsp french dressing
4tbsp toasted pine nuts
To serve
leaves of 2 little gem lettuce
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Arrange the lettuce on a platter
and spoon on the salad.

Serve with crispy garlic bread

Pasta Salad with Pesto and prawns

400g pasta shapes, cooked in salted water and drained
500g raw tiger prawns
2tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
50g black olives
2tbsp chopped Parsley

For the pesto:
50g Basil
30g pine nuts
30g Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
85ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make
Put the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic in a processor, season well and blend. With the motor still running, pour in the olive oil until pesto thickens.

Cook the prawns and the garlic in the olive oil until pink. Add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Leave to cool.
Mix the pesto into the pasta, stir in the prawns and sprinkle Parsley and olives over the top.
Serve on a platter with sliced and toasted Ciabatta drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and wedges of lemon.

New Potato, Bacon, Avocado and Fennel salad with sunflower seeds

500g new potatoes, washed and boiled in salted water
400g smoked bacon, cut into fine strips and fried
2 large avocados, peeled, stoned and sliced
50g sunflower seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 bulbs fennel, very thinly sliced

Combine all the ingredients
Present on a platter and serve with crusty brown bread spread with butter.

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