So, not to be like a record stuck in a groove or ‘owt, but this is very very veeeehy quick and very easy and it’s another of our ‘not-a-recipe-more-of-a-serving-suggestion’ salads.
We don’t believe in iceberg lettuce and tomatoes with no dressing. That’s not salad, that’s just assorted fibre on a plate. Yet somehow, despite all the fancy places to eat in the UK and the transition from spam and sprouts to quinoa and coulis that’s occurred in the last twenty years, lots of people still think that salad is boring and worthy. Sometimes those people come round to our house and eat a salad and go: ‘wow, how did you make this?’ and the answer is – …’er we chopped it up and put literally TWO things on it’.
And then you’ve got taste, interest, AND HEALTH.
My writer-friend Chad made this for a working lunch for us one day, using homegrown kale from the garden at the lovely home she shares with her partner Kath, and I was immediately hooked by the strong and satisfying flavours. I demanded to know how she made it and then had it three times over the following two weeks – I couldn’t get enough of it. Since then it’s become one of my favourite ‘when your brain is still on the train’ meals. Getting off a commuter train from London is about as compatible with cooking a large meal as…er… duh…can’t think of anything smart cos my brain is still on the train. (Geddit?)
Anyway. When your inspiration is as lame as that joke, this meal will fill the gaping void.
This recipe comes from Gennaro Contaldo – or rather, Gennaro’s mother – and I saw him make it on a BBC programme, Two Greedy Italians. It’s incredibly simple and it literally takes 15 minutes to make.
There is one very, very important thing to remember – I got this from watching Gennaro – and that is to ensure a lightness of touch. Don’t handle the dough as you would a bread dough, or even a pastry dough. Be quick and light, using fingertips wherever possible, never holding on to it for more than a couple of seconds at a time. This ensures that the dough remains light and doesn’t turn into a sticky icky goo.
This is what you do when you bought a rock-hard avocado ten days ago, left it in a bowl to reach ripe perfection and then forgot about it so now it’s starting to look a bit old and tired. There are lots of different ways of doing guacamole and you can experiment with them, of course. This is what I do. Nice and simple.
This is, like many salads, just a question of putting some things together and creating joy on a plate. It’s very similar to the Flageolet Beans salad. But different.
This isn’t really a recipe. It’s more a suggestion of how to put things together in a bowl to make a great salad. We’ve got a little guide to making salad in the How Do I… section, but for now this is a just one particular example of the sweet/sour/crunch/salt approach. The sweet crunch of the apple and the nutty, toasted crunch of the pumpkin seeds work brilliantly with creamy, salty blue cheese. The little kick of the chives adds another level (often a good thing to put onion in a salad) and the sharp cider vinegar keeps it good and fresh.
About the ingredients:
You can, of course, substitute different kinds of cheeses – maybe goat’s cheese or feta. Best to use something good and salty, though. And you could use a different fruit – kiwi or pear, maybe – and different herbs, different greens, different seeds. Completely change it in fact. Because you can.
Hi. I made this combination up so if you see it anywhere else on the Web Of All Things then it’s nicked, officer. It’s another Definitely Not Boring Salad for you. As usual with salads, it’s not a recipe, more of a serving suggestion. Nothing is expensive, everything is available in basic supermarkets. I’m rather pleased with it.
- Slice a large pre-cooked beetroot thinly. Peel a clementine and slice it very thinly. Break up some chunks of feta cheese. Value own-brand is fine. (75p, yay!)
- Arrange it all on a plate.
- Drizzle with olive oil and couple of teaspoons of a nice vinegar like red or white wine vinegar.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- If you’ve got tarragon or chives, put some on.
- If you like toasted seeds, dry fry some sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds till slightly brown and put them on.
Badda Bing. As they say (somewhere).
There are hundreds of pictures of this already on the Interweb Of All Things, but we make no apology for putting it on our blog, because we eat it all the time and it’s an important part of the Definitely Not Boring Salad campaign that we have going on. And like all the salads at Life is Jam, it’s really easy. I sometimes have it just on its own with some bread for lunch, or I serve it with several other salads for a lunch spread for a few people.
The mozzarella doesn’t have to be anything posh, I just use the value own-brand kind from the supermarket, which is about 50p, and will be enough for a salad for four. Or you can cut some off and leave the rest in the fridge in it’s little bag for up to three days.
Like a lot of salads, it’s not really a recipe, it’s a serving suggestion.
- Slice some avocado, sprinkle a squeeze of lemon juice on it, which not only adds a little edge to the taste but also stops it going brown.
- Slice some nice ripe tomatoes, and slice or break up some mozzarella. Make it all look nice on a plate if you’re into things looking nice.
- sprinkle with salt and plenty of pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and scatter some fresh basil on.
That’s it folks. There’s no excuse not to make this SOON. Unless you don’t like avocado. Or tomatoes. Or mozzarella.
Everyone I EVER serve this to likes this salad. And I mean Everyone. Usually people go ‘What’s in THIS? It’s delicious!’ And I have to admit…er… not very much. It’s just a dead simple perfect salad and goes with so many things. As well as part of a spread for lunch, beans are nice with meat, so you can have it with a chop or a steak for your main meal. I never think it matters having a cold side with a hot dish. I owe Nigel Slater the inspiration for this, though I make it differently.
Flageolet come in a tin, I think life’s too short to soak dried beans over night and do all the blah blah. But you can do that if you want. In the UK, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stock them, but they can be hard to find, so you can make this with canellini beans too.
But do try to find them, there’s just something special about Flageolet. I’m not big on lentils and all that chewy cardboard business. These are creamy and lush.
Here is a tangy and coriander-fragrant salsa made with fresh tomatoes. It’s very easy, like all salsas. It goes brilliantly with tortilla chips, like all salsas. We have another salsa recipe which is made with tinned tomatoes and different herbs, the recipe is here. We like salsa and tortillas. Can you tell?
A brief word on chilli:
I use chilli flakes quite a lot, as you get used to how hot they are. But fresh chillies are very variable, sometimes you could eat a whole one and it tastes about as hot as a red pepper. Sometimes you taste a tiny bit and your mouth is on fire for forty-five minutes. So if you’re going for a fresh one, I BEG YOU to test it before it goes in. Here are the rules:
- Try a tiny little bit and see how hot it is.
- Remember that it gets hotter the closer to the stalk it is.
- Be very wary of the seeds, as they’re the hottest bit. I usually scrape them out unless the chilli tastes quite mild or I really need the extra heat.
- The RED HOT RULE is that you can add more, but you’ll ruin the dish if you add too much