Vegetarian Kitchen. Christmas fare made by columnist Diana Lampe. Peach and tomato salad with basil. 29th October 2012 Photo: Graham Tidy.
Peach and tomato salad. Photo: Graham Tidy

The recipes today are for two cold dishes for you to enjoy over the festive season and during the summer.

They will fit in with traditional Christmas food and go well with turkey, ham and seafood.

The creamy potato and pea salad is based on a popular Women's Weekly recipe from quite a few years back. I love potato salads and this is one that I make every summer. I prefer to have a little more texture than in the original recipe, so the peas are crushed rather than pureed.

Vegetarian Kitchen. Christmas fare made by columnist Diana Lampe. Potato salad with peas and mint. 29th October 2012 Photo: Graham Tidy.
Potato, pea and mint salad. Photo: Graham Tidy

I like to use pink-skinned potatoes because the pink looks pretty with the pale green; and if they break up somewhat, that only adds to the lusciousness of it. The salad needs to have a generous amount of mint and chives added, for freshness.

A salad of yellow peaches or nectarines and heirloom tomatoes is summery and delicious and can be made in minutes. Use either mint or basil or a little of each. I am going to add some pitted cherries to this salad at Christmas time, to make it even more special.

Peach and tomato salad

Buy the peaches or nectarines a couple of days ahead and allow them to ripen at room temperature. I like to use similadididr amounts of the fruit and tomatoes, but it can be varied. Try adding some pitted cherries as well for a gorgeous Christmas salad.

Serves 6

4 firm ripe yellow peaches or nectarines (about 600g)

1 mignonette or butter lettuce for serving (optional)

1 small bunch basil and/or mint

1 lemon (1½ tbsp juice for dressing)

sea salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper to taste

600g of mixed heirloom, cherry and vine-ripened tomatoes

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Wash and spin the lettuce (if using), basil or mint and keep in the fridge until serving time.

It is a good idea to salt and drain the tomatoes as this salad can become quite watery. Cut them into chunks, wedges or halves if small and sprinkle with salt. Place in a colander and leave to drain for 10 to 15 minutes.

There is no need to peel the peaches or nectarines; simply cut them in half and remove the stones. Gouge the stones out with a spoon if difficult to remove. Cut the fruit into the similar-sized chunks or wedges as the tomatoes. Squeeze on a little lemon juice to stop them discolouring.

For the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, salt, sugar and pepper and then whisk in the olive oil. Shred a few basil and/or mint leaves and add to the dressing. Tip over the peaches and tomatoes and leave to intermingle.

Serve with lettuce leaves if you like and garnish with basil or mint sprigs. Add drops of balsamic vinegar over the salad if you wish.

Variation: Add sliced red onion to the salad and use wine vinegar instead of lemon juice in the dressing.

Potato, pea and mint salad

Serves 8

1 kg small desiree or chat potatoes

1½ cups frozen peas

2 eschalots or 4 spring onions (white and pale green only), finely chopped and rinsed

1 bunch chives

1 bunch mint

Vinaigrette

2 tbsp white-wine vinegar or lemon juice

1 tsp sugar

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Cream dressing

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Doodles Creek)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 squeeze of lemon if needed

½ cup light sour cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt

Wash the potatoes well, but do not peel. Place them in cold water with salt and a sprig of mint and cook until tender. Lift the potatoes out of the water and set aside for a few minutes. Cook the frozen peas in the same water for one minute. Put the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake well. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters. Tip the dressing over them while still warm and toss through. Mix in the eschalot or spring onion when the potatoes are cool.

Set aside quarter of a cup of peas and a few mint sprigs for the garnish. Crush the remaining peas in the food processor using the pulse-chop method. Mix the mustard into the mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon and a little seasoning. Stir in the sour cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt and the crushed peas. Finely cut the chives and shred the mint (quarter of a cup) and mix.

Gently combine the creamy pea dressing with the dressed potatoes. Taste the salad and adjust; it may well need a touch more vinegar, lemon juice or seasoning. Then chill. Scatter the peas and mint sprigs on top of the salad and serve cold.

Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, dlampe@bigpond.net.au