Salads in our house are delicious, but they're pretty much all the same. Lettuces from the vegetable plot. We also grow our own tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and spring onions, and in all of these go. Black olives out of a jar, and if they're in season, fresh peas or broad beans from the vegetable plot. Red or orange peppers cut into long strips, and baby beetroot for everyone else, because I still think they taste like compost. As I said, delicious, but always the same. We don't push the boat out with dressings either, unless I've been bothered to make one. Local garlicy Benenden Sauce for me, Honey Mustard for my Mum, and Classic French for my Dad.
I always bemoan this salad state in the Summers (where we're eating at least one a day), but it was not until the other week when I knew we were having a barbecue later on, and that I had to go to the supermarket before supper for additional ingredients anyway, did I bother to do something about it. So, may I introduce you to my slightly adapted version of Yotam Ottolenghi's imaginatively named 'Lettuce Salad' from Plenty (who else here is excited for the next edition in September?), where he so rightly informs his reader that: "It is essential for every good cook to have a solid lettuce salad up their sleeve." I was sick of mine, so I've borrowed his!
Everything that goes into this salad is pretty great, but I think it is the lemony-garlic dressing that really brings the whole thing together. The bright flavours really pack a punch, and the raw, but not too pungent garlic once drizzled over the lettuce adds a little welcome heat to the proceedings. I might start using this as a general, everyday dressing as it is that simple, and I think it would only get better kept in a jar in the fridge.
Because the 3 of us are greedy, and because we did not really have enough potatoes left to feed us all (see the bottom of this post), we polished off the entire salad bowl, but I'd say that it would serve 4 more accurately.
- 2 Large Red Gem Lettuces
- 3 Spring Onions, green and white parts sliced on an angle
- 4 Large Radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 Handfuls Semi-dried Tomatoes, in large slices
- 2 tbsp Nonpareil Capers
- 1 Very Large Garlic Clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Rinse, tear and scatter the lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl. Scatter across the top the spring onions, radish slices, capers and semi-dried tomatoes. If you can't get these, you can use sun-dried and it will still be delicious, but not as lovely as if you were to use the sweeter, softer semi-dried. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, a good large pinch of sea salt and many grinds of black pepper to make the dressing. Drizzle over the leaves, and serve.
On the barbecue that evening my Dad was cooking up some chicken thighs I'd marinated at lunchtime with my 5 Herb & Garlic Barbecue Marinade, which is perfect on everything from chicken to lamb to vegetables, and you can find the recipe for over at Great British Chefs. Though, I'd also recommend my Skinny Sticky Storecupboard Barbecue Chicken as a good alternative to serve alongside this punchy and flavourful salad.
Mainly because there happened to be just enough left to make up the third part of our meal, I served the salad and the chicken alongside a bit of my Simple Potato Salad, which really was something I threw together from what I happened to have in the fridge at the French house, and I was bothered to write down at the time. But actually, it makes for the perfect third member of the team in a great Summertime barbecue supper.
What is the salad action like in your house? I think salads, especially those that are traditional enough to have leaves at its base are always something unique, every single person does it differently so I'd be interested to hear what other people do.