Easy Summer Salad Recipes from Nigel Slater | Salad

AAlmost everything on the table this month is some kind of salad: steamed grains mixed with ripe fruit and herbs; roasted peppers with a salty dressing of olives and anchovies; slices of ripe melon and sweet shellfish; or a recipe to take advantage of the last asparagus of the year. As summer progresses, there can also be a potato salad, tossed while still hot and steaming with olive oil, lemon and chopped fennel leaves or dill, smoked mackerel, and jagged pieces of peeled cucumber.

There might be a bit of meat: a plate of thinly sliced ​​cold roast pork with lots of snow-white fat and chewy crunch, or maybe some soft folds of air-dried ham. And while there will only be a lavish lunch of fresh crab, there will also be smoked trout or, occasionally, prawns marinated in olive oil and lemon, with basil and thin slices of garlic.

Grains like millet or quinoa, couscous (which only looks grainy), or bulgur wheat form the backbone of salads with masses of chopped parsley, dill, and mint. I mix them with apricots (sometimes raw, sometimes grilled) or tomatoes of all shapes and colors. This time of year, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to salad leaves. I’ve been putting together stunning sets of hot, spicy, smooth and crunchy leaves to suit whatever else is on the table.

White crab and melon salad

Some wonderful things are happening here: sweet white crab and ripe apricot-colored melon; salty capers and a spicy kick of a red chili. Crab is always a treat, but I’m willing to pay for it as an occasional treat. Crab and cantaloupe are best when completely cool, and cantaloupe really needs to be sweet, ripe, and juicy.

for 4 people
cantaloupe or honeydew melon 1kg (weight before peeling)
white crab meat 500g
lime juice 2 tablespoons
parsley 10g, finely chopped
black pepper

for the dressing
lime juice 50ml (1 or 2 ripe limes)
olive oil 50ml
coriander leaves a bunch
capers 2 teaspoons
Red pepper 1 small, finely chopped

To prepare the dressing, put the lime juice in a medium bowl that is large enough to fit the melon. Whisk in the olive oil, then add the whole coriander leaves and capers. Finely chop the chili, removing the seeds as you go, then add to the dressing.

Peel the melon and discard the seeds. Cut the meat into thin slices, then gently toss with the dressing and set aside. (You can leave it in the dressing in the fridge for an hour or more, but not overnight.)

Put the crab meat in a bowl, add the lime juice, chopped parsley and some black pepper. Then mix very gently with a fork. You don’t want to crush the sweet white flakes of the crab. Place the melon and its dressing on a serving plate. Pile the crab and parsley salad on top and bring it to the table.

Salad ‘The last of the asparagus’

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

The British asparagus season traditionally ends on June 21, the day of the summer solstice. As a thank you to the asparagus gods, I’ll be marking the event with one last asparagus dinner of the year. This time the spears will be briefly poached and then dressed, while still hot, in Mark Diacono’s delicious elderflower dressing from his book A year at Otter Farm (Bloomsbury, £25). It’s something I usually use with pale, delicate summer leaves like butterhead lettuce. Since this is kind of a celebration, scatter some flowers (nasturtium, arugula or chives) if you feel like it.

for 4 people
for the asparagus
asparagus 24 spears
rocket flowers a handful (optional)

for the dressing
elderflower cordial 2 tablespoons
White wine vinegar 1 tablespoon
olive oil 1 tablespoon

Bring a deep pot of water to a boil, large enough to hold the asparagus, and lightly salt and pepper the water. Trim asparagus spears, discarding tough ends.

When the salted water boils, lower the cut asparagus and let them cook for 7-8 minutes until tender. The exact time will depend on the age and thickness of your spears, so test regularly with the tip of a paring knife.

Prepare the dressing: mix the elderflower liqueur and vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Add the oil and beat until the mixture forms an emulsion. Taste for seasoning

Remove the asparagus from the water and shake gently to dry. Arrange on a long serving plate, pour over dressing and toss gently until asparagus is coated, then sprinkle with arugula flowers.

Roasted peppers, tomatoes and tapenade

Roasted peppers, tomatoes and tapenade
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

The flavors of the deepest summer: ripe peppers and ribbed tomatoes, purple and black olives and anchovies. I’ve roasted the peppers myself, so you’re left with a puddle of caramel-colored roasting juice to soak the hot toast with, but you can roast the peppers if you prefer. If you choose that route, use a generous drizzle of olive oil to dress the toast before putting the peppers in place.

Serves 2
red or mixed bell peppers 300g
olive oil
Tomatoes 4 medium
red wine vinegar a little
sourdough bread 4 slices

For the tapenade dressing
pitted black olives 125g
anchovy fillets 8
parsley 2 tablespoons
olive oil 2 tablespoons

Set the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Place the peppers in a roasting pan, pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil and roast for 40 minutes until they puff up and darken in patches.

To make the dressing, finely chop the black olives and anchovies and mix. You can do it by hand or in seconds using a food processor. Chop the parsley and mix with the olives along with the olive oil. You can store this mixture in the refrigerator for several days if you need to.

Remove the peppers from the oven, cover them with a lid and leave them for 20 minutes. The steam they produce by covering themselves will loosen their skin. Peel the skin off the peppers and discard, then cut each pepper in half and scrape out the seeds. Arrange the peppers flat on a serving plate.

Cut the tomatoes into thin slices. Drizzle them with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, and season with black pepper.

Toast the bread on both sides and dress while still warm with a little of the oil from the peppers. Place a piece of roasted bell pepper on each of the toasts, then a spoonful of the tapenade dressing and serve with the sliced ​​tomatoes.

Summer Herb Frittata Salad with Green Olives and Thyme

Summer Herb Frittata Salad with Green Olives and Thyme
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

I make this dressing as much for its fragrance as it is for its flavor, with its summery hints of green olive and lemon and its hint of sweet, tender garlic. Dress the freshly cooked frittata while it is still hot.

for 4 people
For the frittata
spring onions 5
olive oil 2 tablespoons
eggs 4
dill leaves 10g
mint leaves 8g
parsley leaves 15g
butter 30g
germinated seeds a handful, such as mung beans or lentils
fresh thyme leaves and flowers 1 tablespoon, to finish

for the dressing
olive oil 50ml
pitted green olives 100 grams
red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon
Garlic 1 small clove, peeled
grated lemon 1 tsp
parsley leaves 10g

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, the pitted olives, the vinegar, the garlic, the lemon zest and the parsley leaves in the glass of a food processor and grind for a few seconds.

To make the frittata, cut the spring onions into thin slices. Heat the olive oil in a shallow nonstick skillet with a heat resistant handle (I use one about 8 inches in diameter at the bottom), then add the spring onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork to mix the yolks and whites. Finely chop the dill leaves, mint and parsley, then mix with the beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the top rack (oven).

Add the butter to the chives and let it melt. Keep the heat at a moderate level. Pour in half of the egg and herb mixture, add the sprouted seeds, then let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes until the eggs have hardened. Place the pan under the hot grill for a minute or two to set the surface of the frittata. Slide the frittata onto a cutting board, then repeat with the remaining egg mixture.

Slide the second frittata from your pan onto the cutting board and cut into strips about 1cm wide. Put them in a bowl, add the dressing and toss gently, then transfer to a serving plate.

The green olive dressing is a treat with a little fresh thyme or thyme blossoms added as you mix the frittata strips and dressing.

Spiced apricot and zucchini couscous

Spiced apricot and zucchini couscous
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

for 4 people

Vegetables soup 250ml
quick cook thin couscous 125g
apricots 12
liquid honey 2 tablespoons
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
ground coriander ½ teaspoon
courgettes 4 medium
olive oil 5 tablespoons
parsley leaves 10g
mint leaves 5g
sliced ​​almonds 4 tablespoons, toasted
lemon ½ juice

Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the top rack (oven).

Heat the vegetable broth in a small saucepan. Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Stir briefly, then cover with a lid or plate and set aside.

Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Put the honey in a bowl and add the ground cinnamon and coriander. Add the apricots and toss the fruit and honey together, until everything is well coated, then tip onto the rack or baking sheet. Make sure the fruit is in a single layer, then cook under the hot grill for about 8-10 minutes until soft and the honey begins to caramelize. Remove from grill and reserve.

Trim the courgettes and cut them into quarters lengthwise, then into small pieces about 3 cm long. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then add the courgettes and gently toss with the seasoned oil. Place them in the grill pan, regardless of whether there is any honey or apricot juice left, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and unevenly golden. Flip them over and cook the other side, then remove from the grill and add to the apricots.

Chop the parsley and the mint leaves and mix them with the sliced ​​almonds, the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Run a fork through the couscous to break up the grains, then add the apricots, zucchini, parsley, mint, and almonds. Check the seasoning.

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