Category Archives: Salads

Courgette and beetroot couscous

couscous salad

 

The courgettes are coming thick and fast now. Well, they’re actually coming thick, thin, large, small, straight, bendy, any which way. I can never understand how the supermarkets manage to only stock very regular shaped and sized courgettes, there must be so many that are discarded, I dread to think. I just hope they go to some use, I won’t get started on the evils of supermarket waste.

The first of my courgettes always get the simple treatment to start with, which means they are sliced and thrown into a pan of hot olive oil for a few minutes each side, then drained on kitchen paper before being seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and then greedily devoured with our hands. They don’t make it into any dish as such. But they are also delicious used raw in salads.

This dish became a lunchtime favourite for me last summer. It’s my own made-up recipe that changes like the wind dependant on what needs using up in the fridge. But courgettes, if I have them, always go in.

Ingredients:

couscous ingredients

You can roughly see the quantities in the picture above are just for one, adapt as you like for however many people you are feeding. I sometimes use a little chopped apple instead of the dried fruit, but a bit of something sweet really works well. Substitute the mint for basil if you prefer, feta for goats cheese if you please, and you could use red onion instead of spring. You could also add walnuts or almond flakes at the end.

Method:

1. Firstly wash, trim (leaving a bit of leaf stalk on) and boil the beetroot for around 30-40 mins depending on size. Once cooled, peel. I usually chop the top and bottom off so it’s stable and then use the back of a knife to scrape the skin downwards. If it’s cooked enough it should come off easily, so it’s a good indication.

2. Prepare the couscous by putting it into a bowl and just covering it with hot veg or chicken stock. I use Marigold bullion powder. Or you could use freshly boiled water with a little turmeric (just a pinch) and some seasoning. Leave to one side for a few minutes. Once the water has been absorbed, fork it through, drizzle over a little olive oil and stir to coat.

3. Prepare the other ingredients by chopping or slicing into similar sized pieces. Then mix everything (except the beetroot) together.

4. Top with the beetroot at the end, or else you’ll get very pink couscous. If however, you want pink couscous, be my guest and stir it all in!

courgette harvest

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Tuna fish and borlotti bean salad

tuna, bean salad

We are both big fans of Delia Smith’s White Bean and Tuna Fish Salad which we have made throughout many summers over the years, adapting it slightly here and there dependant on what we have to hand, but always trying to keep it simple. It often tempting with salads to throw in a bit of everything, but this is one that benefits from a select number of ingredients.

I wondered whether I could adapt this recipe using my dried homegrown borlotti beans rather than the butter beans we normally use, and I’m pleased to say it worked really well. The lemon (or lime) dressing is a must.

If using dried beans, soak half a bowl of them overnight in water (top the bowl up with cold water to just below the rim). When fully rehydrated, drain and put them in a saucepan with fresh water and bring to a fast boil for 10 mins, then turn down the heat to a simmer and carry on cooking for about an hour, or until the beans are soft. You could also use 1 can of borlotti beans.

Drain and add to a bowl with 1 can of drained tuna fish, 1 sliced avocado, half a red onion – sliced, a handful of sliced black olives and a few cubes of feta cheese.

For the dressing, squeeze the juice from half a lemon or lime, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, a grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt, whisk together until creamy and pour over the salad. Turn the salad ingredients over in the dressing to coat and serve with crusty bread.

 

Tuna and egg salad with ‘micro-leaf’ seedlings

micro leaves

I sowed too many broccoli seeds this year. I had two old packets in my seed tin, one for a summer sprouting and one a winter sprouting, but both were well past their sow by dates. I decided I may as well throw the remaining contents of each packet into a pot each of compost and see what comes up.

To my surprise they germinated – en masse. When it came to pricking out time, I felt (as ever) bad about discarding the surplus seedlings, so, knowing that some people sow these veg specifically for their micro leaves, I thought I’d have a go at adding them to a salad, now that salad days are with us again.

salad leaves

I also added some thinnings from a pot of salad leaves growing in a large terracotta pot outside, a few baby leaves pinched from some little lettuces destined for the allotment plot, and the same from some of the brussels and savoy cabbages that I hoped wouldn’t miss a small leaf or two.

It’s not exactly a mega salad leaf harvest, but a good way to use up what may otherwise have gone to the compost heap.

This is the salad (single portion) I made with the leaves:

tuna and egg salad

Firstly put 1 large egg into boiling water and boil for 10 mins. Make a dressing with a tablespoon of olive oil a slug of vinegar (cider, white wine or, as I used, balsamic vinegar) and a squeeze of lemon juice, season with a grind of salt and pepper, and whisk together. Mix half a tin of mixed beans (drained and washed) with the micro salad leaves. Drizzle these with about half the dressing and mix again. Top with some chunks of tinned tuna, a few slices of red onion, a couple of small tomatoes, quartered, and a scattering of feta or goats cheese. Remove the egg from the water, cool and peel, then quarter and add to the salad. Finally drizzle over the remaining dressing.

You can pretty much add or subtract what you like from this. Black olives and green beans would make it a little more like salad nicoise. Once my new potatoes are ready they’ll definitely be going into a similar salad, minus the beans. Happy salad days!

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