This year I offer some of my favourite salad recipes for you to make and enjoy during the summer. A few of these recipes have appeared in these pages before, while others, such as the vegetable salad and cabbage salad, are new.

I have included a classic green salad and made some changes to the original barley and arborio rice salads, which can be served as main course dishes. I have made these salads again and again.

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

Vegetable salad

This is a lovely mixed vegetable salad made from everyday ingredients. It can accompany meat or fish or be served with other salads. I like it just as it is, although you could add turnip, cauliflower or asparagus as well.

Vegetable salad

Serves 6-8
3 medium potatoes and (450g) kipfler or pink-eye potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium (275g) carrots, peeled

1 generous handful (150g) green beans

1 cup frozen peas

1-2 eschalots or ½ red onion, finely chopped and rinsed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp chopped dill, chervil or tarragon (optional)

2 hard-boiled eggs for garnish (optional)

lettuce leaves or watercress to serve (optional)


Dressing

2 tbsp wine vinegar 

2 tsp Dijon mustard 

sea salt, sugar and fresh ground black pepper

 4-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 

2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Make the dressing first, using a stick blender or whisk. For the easier blender method,place all the dressing ingredients in a jug and blend to an emulsion. Alternatively, whisk the vinegar, mustard and seasoning together in a bowl or jar, then gradually add the olive oil,whisking at the same time. Taste and adjust to balance the acidity.

Cook the potatoes and whole carrots together in salted water until just tender. Remove them, but keep the water to use again. Peel the potatoes when cool enough to handle and dice, 6-7mm is ideal, but up to 1cm is fine. Dice the carrots to match. Mix them carefully with about half the dressing while still warm.

Boil the beans (uncovered) in the same water for three or four minutes. Lift them out and plunge straight into iced water to cool. Drain and pat dry with a tea towel and cut into 6-7mm lengths at a slight angle. Cook the frozen peas in the same water for one minute, then drain. Keep the cooking water to use later for stock.

Gently combine the cooked vegetables with the remaining dressing or as much as you need.Add the chopped herbs (save some to sprinkle on top) and mix through the salad. Taste the salad now and add extra seasoning if needed. Serve it cold, garnished with the quartered hard-boiled eggs (if using) and a sprinkling of herbs. The salad can be accompanied by lettuce leaves or watercress if you like.

 

Cabbage salad


This is a tasty and colourful salad that will fit into almost any meal. You can make the salad with white cabbage if you like. You can also make it without the carrots. Salting the shredded cabbage makes it easier to digest and, as an added benefit, the salad will then stay crunchy and fresh in the fridge for a few days.

Cabbage salad

Serves 8
½ small (500g) savoy cabbage

½ smaller (400g) red cabbage

1 tbsp fine sea salt

3 medium (400g) carrots, grated

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, shredded

Dressing
 

2-3 tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

2-3 tsp honey or sugar

freshly ground black pepper

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

 
The suggested quantities are only a guide. Red cabbage is more robust than white cabbage so I like to use slightly less of it. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbages as necessary.

Cut the halves into quarters and cut out the cores and thick ribs. Finely shred the cabbage crosswise with a serrated knife, food processor or mandolin slicer.

Put the shredded cabbage into a colander and sprinkle salt between the layers. Leave for an hour to drain; you will be surprised at how much the cabbage reduces in volume. Rinse the salt off the cabbage and drain, then squeeze any remaining water out in your hands and place the cabbage in a mixing bowl with the grated carrot and parsley.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together. The amount of dressing needed will vary, so keep some back and tip the rest over the salad and toss gently. Taste and make any adjustments to your taste. Leave it in the fridge to marinate for an hour or so before serving.

Variations

Add blue cheese, sliced apple, thinly sliced red onion (salted), sultanas or raisins, toasted walnuts or pecans.

 

Pearl barley salad

Pearl barley is so good for us and I think we should use it more. It is excellent when used as the main ingredient in a salad, such as in this one, which has distinctly Middle Eastern flavours.

Pearl barley salad


Serves 8

1 cup pearl barley (3 cups cooked)

1 cup peeled broad beans and/or frozen peas

2 Lebanese cucumbers

6-8 spring onions, sliced (about a cup)

2 stems celery heart and leaves, shredded (optional)

2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves or watercress sprigs

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 small bunch of mint and/or dill, chopped

1 bunch small radishes with tops, soaked in cold water

¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted

1 baby cos lettuce, washed to serve

 

Dressing

1 large lemon, squeezed (¼ cup juice)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp allspice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 
Rinse the barley and put into a large saucepan with abundant cold water. Add salt, bring to the boil and simmer steadily for 35 minutes. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar. Drain the barley and tip into a mixing bowl and while warm toss with half the dressing. Cool in the fridge.

In the meantime, prepare the vegetables and herbs. Cook the broad beans for five minutes and peel and/or cook the peas for one minute. Part-peel the cucumbers and cut in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon and slice. Either slice the radishes thinly to add, or leave whole (with tops) and use as a garnish.

Add the broad beans and/or peas, cucumber, spring onions, celery (if using), sliced radishes,herbs and the remaining dressing and gently mix through. Taste and adjust as needed. Chill until serving time.

Arrange the cos leaves around the salad bowl with the barley salad inside. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and garnish with herb sprigs and baby radishes.

 

Salade de saison

In France green salads are eaten every day. They are usually served after the main course. In the South of France a clove of crushed garlic would be added to the dressing. You can use mesclun for this salad instead of the different lettuces and greens suggested. Instead of using only olive oil, replace half with either walnut or hazelnut oil.

Salade de saison


Serves 6

1 butter lettuce and 1 mignonette lettuce or mesclun mix

1 witlof (Belgian endive) or curly endive (optional)

1 handful of watercress sprigs, baby spinach or sorrel leaves

2 tbsp chopped parsley, chives and chervil or tarragon

1 handful of toasted walnuts, hazelnuts or freshly made croutons


Vinaigrette

1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar

squeeze of lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Remove the outside leaves from the endive and cut 2-3cm off the core end. Wash all the greens and dry them well. The dressing clings better to dry leaves. The herbs will be chopped at the last minute.

To make the dressing, mix the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and then whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust the acidity. If it is too sharp, add a pinch of sugar and a teaspoon of white wine or water. Cross the salad servers above the dressing in the bowl and place the salad leaves and nuts or croutons over them, ready for tossing.
Chop the herbs when ready to serve. Tip on the dressing and gently toss the salad leaves to coat. Then sprinkle on the herbs and serve straightaway.

Croutons

Cut 100 grams of sliced day-old baguette or good white bread into 2.5cm pieces. Sprinkle the bread with olive oil and toss. Spread out on a tray and bake at 180C for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Variations

To make mimosa, finely chop or sieve a hard-boiled egg and sprinkle over the dressed salad.Other suggested additions to a green salad are parmesan or blue cheese, crumbled crispy bacon, sliced apple or other fruit, or cubed avocado.

 

Beetroot and orange salad

This is one of my very favourite salads and one that I particularly like to make in winter when oranges come into season, but it is good at other times too.

Beetroot and orange salad

Serves 6

1 bunch (4 medium) beetroots

2 bay leaves

4 navel, blood or other oranges

1 tbsp red-wine vinegar

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tbsp each olive and walnut oils

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a handful of walnuts, toasted (optional)

1 bunch rocket to serve

Try to buy beetroots of a similar size so they will cook in the same time. Make sure the roots and stems are intact. The beetroots can be cooked ahead of time.

Leave 3-4cm of stems on the beetroots and don’t trim the roots. Place them in a deep saucepan with the bay leaves, salt and water to cover. Bring to the boil, partly cover and simmer until tender for one to one and a half hours.

To test whether the beetroots are cooked, press on one of them to see whether it gives, or pierce with a fork.

Alternatively, beetroots can be baked in a moderate oven. Wrap in foil with bay leaves and bake until tender. This will take longer, but the flavour is wonderful.

To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar, salt and pepper together in a jar. If you like, add a little grated orange zest. Whisk in the oil.

Drain the beetroots and run under cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins with your hands. Then cut them into 1cm slices and mix with half the dressing while still warm and leave to marinate.

Take a sharp serrated knife and cut the peel from each orange in a spiral or as you prefer.Do this over a plate to save the juices and be sure to remove all the pith. Cut the oranges into 1cm slices and set aside. Add the collected orange juice to the remaining dressing.

Arrange the rocket leaves on the serving plate. Lift the beetroot slices out of the dressing and place on the rocket. Lay the orange slices over the beetroot. Scatter the roughly chopped walnuts over the salad and spoon on the remaining dressing and juice.

 

Paella-style rice salad

An arborio rice salad is beautifully moist, because the rice absorbs the dressing and juices so well. It is quite different from the more usual rice salad. This recipe was inspired by my vegetable paella recipe (Food and Wine May 2007).

To save time, use grilled peppers from the deli, instead of roasting them yourself. A few artichoke hearts preserved in oil are a good addition, as would a scattering of toasted blanched almonds. Serve by itself, or with prawns or chicken and other salads.

Paella-style rice salad


Serves 6

1-2 red peppers (capsicum)

125g green beans, or 1 cup frozen peas

1 x 400g can of chickpeas, cannellini beans, or small red kidney beans

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp tomato paste

1 tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp smoked paprika (optional)

1 cup arborio rice

2 cups boiling water and stock cubes or powder

1 punnet red or yellow cherry tomatoes

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

2 lemons cut into wedges to serve

Dressing

1 medium tomato, roughly chopped

2 tbsp red-wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper

Make the dressing first, using a stick-blender or blender. Place the roughly cut tomato,vinegar, olive oil and seasoning into a jug and blend to an emulsion. Taste and adjust for a balance and acidity. It should be quite sharp, so add a squeeze of lemon if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 200C to roast the peppers. Place them on a baking tray and roast on a high shelf in the oven until dark and blistered. Place the hot peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes or longer. Remove the skins, membranes and seeds and cut the roasted peppers into small squares (about 1.5cm).

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Plunge the beans in and cook for three or four minutes. Drain and spread out on a tea towel to cool and dry. Top and tail and cut into 2cm lengths. If using peas instead, cook for one minute in boiling water or the microwave.

Drain the chickpeas, white or red beans and rinse with boiling water. Mix them with a little of the dressing while warm.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and fry until soft and starting to turn golden. Then add the bay leaf, garlic, tomato paste, sweet and smoked paprika and seasoning, and cook for a minute. Tip in the rice and stir until the grains are coated with oil and translucent. Pour in the hot water and stock powder or cubes and bring to the boil.

Stir once, cover tightly and turn the heat down as low as possible. Cook the rice undisturbed for 18-20 minutes; the liquid will have been absorbed by then.

Tip the rice into a large mixing bowl and pour on the remaining dressing while it is warm. It will be absorbed. Then add the peppers, green beans and chickpeas, or the peas and kidney beans, and mix though. Cover and cool in the fridge.

At serving time, cut the cherry tomatoes into halves, chop the parsley and mix them both through the rice salad. Taste and season as needed.

Serve cold, accompanied with wedges of lemon. Keep the salad in the fridge and use with in a couple of days.