Five salad recipes you need to know

Peach & lentil salad with warm pork tenderloin from <I>Around The World In World in Salads</I>.
Peach & lentil salad with warm pork tenderloin from Around The World In World in Salads.  Photo: Helen Cathcart

You can - and should - make friends with salads. Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi come up with many inspired ways to love leaves in their new book, Around The World In World in Salads (Kyle Books, $39.99).

Peach & lentil salad with warm pork tenderloin

Pork and fennel seeds have been a classic combination in Italy since ancient Roman times. Wild fennel grows abundantly and produces masses of yellow flowers that are gathered for fennel pollen or left to mature until the seeds form.

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

<I>Around The World In Salads</I> by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Kyle Books, $39.99).
Around The World In Salads by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Kyle Books, $39.99). Photo: Helen Cathcart

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 x 600g pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

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4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

390g can Puy or bijoux verts lentils, rinsed and drained

60g soft dried prunes, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

75g spinach, kale, lettuce, mustard leaves or rocket

2 peaches, stoned, skin on and each one cut into 12 slices

2 tablespoons chopped dill or wild fennel

1. Crush the fennel seeds using a pestle and mortar and sprinkle them over a piece of baking parchment with the garlic and salt. Trim any tough silverskin from the tenderloin and roll it in the garlic, salt and crushed fennel seeds on the paper. Roll up in the parchment, place on a plate and transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a day.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the pork from the fridge to come to room temperature while you make the salad.

3. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice and oil in a bowl and season to taste.

4. For the salad, the lentils should be at room temperature or lightly warmed in a pan over a low heat. Mix the lentils, prunes and parsley together, add half the dressing and toss to combine - keep the remaining dressing for the last minute before serving. Arrange the lentils on a large platter with the leaves, peach slices and dill.

5. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and when hot brown the pork all over to seal in the juices. Transfer to a roasting tin and cook for 12-15 minutes or until it is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside, covered in foil and a tea-towel, to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into approx. 1cm slices, arrange on top of the lentils with any cooking juices and the reserved dressing poured over the top. Serve straight away.

Serves 4-6

Confit duck salad.

This lavish confit duck salad is gluten-free. Photo: Helen Cathcart

Confit duck, crispy potato & garlic salad

We love to pick up cans of confit duck when we see them. The French brands are best and perfect for putting by for another day. This salad comes from our good friend Joe Mosse, who lives in Lyon. She whips up this garlicky, unctuous salad to feed her French husband Loic and teenage children when she's short of fresh ingredients and loves to use home-grown herbs. Our advice is to hide the irresistibly crispy potatoes from teenagers once they are cooked or you won't have any left for the salad.

1.2kg can or jar of duck confit, containing 4-6 pieces of duck with fat

1.25kg large old potatoes, roughly cut into 3cm cubes

2 large sprigs of rosemary

8 garlic cloves, skin on, lightly crushed

250g baby spinach or watercress or a mixture of the two 

A very large handful of mixed soft green herbs, such as flat-leaf or curly parsley, tarragon, wild garlic leaves, chives, chervil, thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the mustard vinaigrette

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2-1 teaspoon raw mild honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Plunge the can (before opening it) into a bowl of very hot water for 10 minutes. This will melt the fat and make it easier to remove the duck pieces. Remove the can from the water and open it. Remove the pieces of duck from the fat and lay onto a oven tray skin-side up, reserving the fat for later. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until piping hot and the skin is crispy. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside in a warm place, loosely covered in foil.

3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes, rosemary and the garlic cloves onto another oven tray with 200ml of the duck fat poured over the top and season with a generous scattering of salt and pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy and browned.

4. Make the vinaigrette by shaking the ingredients together in a lidded jar.

5. Remove the potatoes from the oven and pour away most of the fat.

6. Remove the garlic and pop the pearly insides from their jackets into a warm serving bowl, mash and toss with the potatoes. Set aside in a warm place.

7. Using two forks, pull the duck meat from the bones and cut the skin into shreds. Add this to the potatoes. Add the spinach and herbs, toss through with the vinaigrette. Taste and season again as necessary.

Serves 4-6

This salmon dish is a spring-friendly salad.

This salmon dish is a spring-friendly salad. Photo: Helen Cathcart

Salmon, asparagus & pea salad with watercress dressing

This quintessentially English dish of pink poached salmon against a verdant selection of leaves is as vibrant as a sunny spring day. It is easy to put together and the fish and dressing can be prepared in advance, so it's ideal for entertaining.

750g fillet of salmon or 1 side of a small salmon, skin on and pin-boned

2 tablespoons white wine

S small handful of pea shoots

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

100g watercress

200ml crème fraîche 

For the salad

12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed

300g fresh peas

A small handful of dill, stems removed

A small handful of mint leaves, roughly torn

A small handful of tarragon leaves, stems removed

A handful of watercress

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the salmon on a large piece of baking parchment, spoon over the wine, season and secure the edges of the parchment to form a parcel, then cook for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through.

3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients. When cool enough to touch, remove the skin and flake the fish into large pieces.

4. Boil or steam the peas and asparagus - about 10 minutes for the peas and 5-8 minutes for the asparagus. Plunge the vegetables into cold water to cool quickly and keep their colour.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by frying the shallot in the oil with salt and pepper in a small pan over a gentle heat until softened, but make sure it does not take on any colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Pour this into a food processor, add the watercress and whizz. Add the crème fraîche and pulse until well blended. Season to taste.

6. Put all the salad vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, toss in the lemon juice and olive oil and arrange around the edge of a platter.

7. Lay the salmon on top, in the centre, and splash on the crème fraîche dressing or serve on the side. Scatter the pea shoots on top of the salmon.

Serves 6

Roast beetroot are the stars of this salad.

Roasted beets are the stars of this vegetarian salad. Photo: Helen Cathcart

Roast beetroot, lentil & goat's curd salad with walnuts

We grow beetroots and love to use them in this salad. Their flavour concentrates and sweetens with roasting but it takes ages if you leave them whole. By cutting them and partially steaming them in the oven under foil you can reduce the cooking time significantly.

Soft goat's curd has a delicate flavour. It is wonderful in savoury or sweet dishes, especially when its sour note complements something sweet such as the honey in the dressing.

5 raw medium beetroots

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

50g walnut halves

1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 x 400g can cooked Puy or beluga lentils (240g drained weight)

1 celery stick, finely sliced on the diagnoal, plus a few leaves

A large handful of flat-leaf parsley, tough stems discarded, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish

100g goat's curd, soft goat's cheese or feta cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon raw mild honey

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Peel and cut the beetroots into wedges about 2cm across at their thickest. Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil and seasoning in a bowl and then tip onto a small oven tray (keep the bowl for the onion). Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

3. Put the walnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes or until lightly roasted and browned. Remove and set aside to cool.

4. Put the onion in the bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil to coat. Set aside.

5. When the beetroot has had 30 minutes of cooking, remove the foil and add the onions to the tray, tossing them with the beets. Return to the oven, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a plate.

6. Put the lentils into a bowl, add the dressing ingredients and seasoning and toss through. When the beetroots and onions are done, add these and any cooking juices to the lentils and toss together, leave to cool to room temperature.

7. Stir in the celery and parsley, spoon over the curd or crumble the cheese on top and serve with a little extra parsley, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4

This dessert is a crowd-pleaser.

This dessert is a crowd-pleaser. Photo: Helen Cathcart

Strawberry, pistachio & mint salad with rosewater cream & meringue

Makes 50 small meringues (4cm across and 2-3cm tall)

This stunning party piece is sure to delight - summer strawberries are piled onto whipped rose water cream and broken meringues. It's easy to assemble and you can decorate it with edible fresh rose petals, pistachios and mint. It will also work in individual glasses.

Rose water is available from Middle Eastern stores and supermarkets but they do vary. Expect to pay more for a good one and it will make all the difference.

There are various methods of making meringue but we find the one below the most useful. It follows the Swiss method and is more robust than others when making flavoured meringues or using in a semifreddo.

For the meringues

150g egg white (about 5 egg whites)

300g caster sugar

for the coulis

250-350g strawberries, hulled and cut in half

2-3 tablespoons caster sugar

For the cream

60g icing sugar

600ml whipping cream

4-5 tablespoons rose water

To serve

300g strawberries

A handful of small mint leaves

25g pistachios, peeled

A handful of pink edible rose petals, from organic roses or wild dog roses

1. Put the egg whites and three-quarters of the sugar into a mixing bowl and stir together. Put this over a pan of boiling water making sure that the water does not touch the bowl. Whisk using an electric mixer until the mixture comes up to 45C on a thermometer or until it starts to become glossy and very thick. Remove from the heat and put into a food mixer with a whisk attachment or use an electric mixer and whisk until it doubles in size. While it is running, add the remaining sugar little by little.

2. Preheat the oven to 110C. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

3. Pipe or spoon the meringues 4cm across and 2-3cm tall onto the lined trays. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until they are light to the touch, lift off easily and are crisp on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. If you like your meringues brittle, leave them in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Leave to cool.

4. To make the coulis, boil the strawberries and sugar for 15 minutes until the fruit has softened and reduced in volume. Strain through a sieve and cool.

5. For the cream, whip the icing sugar and cream together until stiff and beat in the rose water to taste.

6. To serve, pile the meringues, cream and strawberries onto a serving plate (or into individual glasses) and top with the mint, pistachios, rose petals and coulis.

Serves 4

This is an edited extract from Around the World in Salads by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Kyle Books, $39.99). It is available now.