Saturday 23 July 2011

Some Salads for a Summer's Day

When I was a kid in the 70's, America was a really big influence.  We wore baseball jackets and Converse shoes, my favourite TV show was Starsky and Hutch and American Pizza and Burger restaurants were opening all over London.  The thing I loved the most about these restaurants was the choice.  How your food was cooked, what it came served with and side orders galore.  The options seemed limitless. Salads had not one but five different dressings - Italian, French, Blue Cheese, Ranch or Thousand Island.  I thought this was just the most amazing thing, even though I always chose Thousand Island, which I adored.  The salad was different too.  We were used to a limp lettuce leaf, a piece of cucumber and an unripe tomato but this was something else.  Shredded red and white cabbage, grated carrot and sweetcorn.  I loved it so much that it was one of the first restaurant dishes that I tried to create for myself at home.  The beginning of a long road.

Now I like to think my pallet more sophisticated and I tend to avoid mayonnaise based dressing in search of more subtle combinations. So when choosing a salad to accompany my Ribs last week a chose a Slaw but felt it needed a really clean dressing.  Barbecued Ribs are delicious but can be a bit sickly so I wanted something to cut the richness.  I think this one works really well.

For the Fish Marinated with Chermoula I made a monkfish kebab but you could use tuna or salmon instead.  Just make sure it is a firm fish which will stay on the Skewer.  With it I served a Giant Couscous Salad.  The Couscous being giant, not the salad.  I am quite a fan of Giant Couscous mainly due to the fact that when the children eat it, they seem to manage to get slightly more of it in their mouths than on the floor, which certainly cannot be said about the other variety.  This salad is simplicity itself, as you use the Chermoula again as a dressing and with just a few other ingredients thrown in you have yourself a really tasty salad.

Finally with the Steak and Chimicurri I made one of my favourite, quick salads of Avocado, Tomatoes, Coriander and Lime.  It is such a great combination.  Really fresh and vibrant.  Great on a sunny day.  Not that it was !  Avocados are really fantastic right now.  I don't know if they have a season but they just seem so creamy and tasty at the moment and they are super-good for you too.

I have to admit that they are one of my favourite snacks.  I remove the stone and in the cavity and I squeeze a mixture of half mayonnaise, half tomato ketchup and a squeeze of lemon.  I then mix the dressing up in the pear and eat the whole thing standing up by the fridge.  So much for my sophisticated pallet !  I haven't changed a bit.

Slaw for Ribs

1/2 White Cabbage (shredded)
1/2 Red Cabbage (shredded)
4 large carrots (pealed and grated)
1/2 head of Celery (wash and slice fairly thinly through the whole head)
2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
Juice of 2 Lemons

Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl.. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and add. The dressing should not drown the salad however you do not want it to be dry. If necessary just make up a little more.

Giant Cous Cous with Chermoula

Giant Couscous
Bunch of Spring Onions (finely sliced)
Some Red, Yellow or Orange Peppers (seeds removed, finely chopped)
A Cucumber (seeds removed, finely chopped)
1 Fresh red Chilli (seeds removed, finely chopped)
A bunch of Coriander (finely chopped)

Cook the Couscous in plenty of salted water until soft and pleasant to eat.  If it is not, then it is not ready.  Drain and refresh with a little cold water.  Drain really well.  Add a generous amount of Chermoula until the Couscous is quite green and tastes pretty punchy.  Now add the vegetables and mix well.

Avocado, Tomato, Coriander, Lime and Chilli

One clove of garlic (very finely chopped)
One Fresh Red Chilli (very finely chopped)
2 spring onions (finely sliced)
200g cherry tomatoes (quartered)
2 ripe avocados (pealed and chopped into large bite size pieces)
Juice of one or two limes
Bunch of Coriander (very finely chopped)
Glug of Olive Oil
Good pinch salt
Freshly ground pepper

Mix garlic, chilli, lime juice and olive oil together.  Season well.  Stir in rest of ingredients.  make sure avocado is well coated in lime juice to avoid discolouration.


  1. All of these salads look delicious. I used to love thousand island when I was a child too but have since started to like more fresh flavours like lime, soy sauce etc.

  2. Lovely salads. I made Panzanella today, a lovely bread salad, but included avocado and feta in it too. Nothing like a nice fresh salad.

  3. Everything looks just delicious!
    I recently had couscous with plums (tinned?) and lots of spring onions - also delicious. I was told it was Algerian Couscous.

  4. thanks for sharing all these recipes! everything sounds so good!


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