Because summer salads aren't just for girls.
Salads have the potential to be truly uninspiring, but with a little thought you can turn a boring plate of cold foliage into something surprisingly exciting.
I hate those bags of floppy mixed leaves that supermarkets sell. For me, salad leaves need to be tasty and robust, and the best tend to be wild.
If you’re a bit of a forager, you may already pick wild leaves, or if you’re into gardening, you’ll probably have weeds such as pennywort, chickweed and bittercress growing in the borders, which are ideal for the salad bowl. Other interesting leaves you can grow include land cress, rocket and silver sorrel, all of which will get your dinner guests talking.
When it comes to dressings, I’m a bit of a vinegar addict. I have a cupboard full of countless varieties from good cider to muscatel. Mix up a glug of your favourite with a splash of oil and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect salad dressing; just add leaves.
Thai prawn salad with green mango (serves 4)
I love Asian-inspired salads. With a good kick of fragrant herbs and chilli, they’re healthy and invigorating. If green mango is impossible to find, supermarkets often have other types of mango that are still rock-hard and perfect for a salad like this. Papaya or even pomelos, which are large, green grapefruit-like fruits, can be used.
Asian herbs such as Thai basil, Thai parsley, perilla and betel leaves (if you can buy them locally,) as well as coriander, will all add to the fragrant effect. Good-quality cooked prawns will work well in this salad.
30–40 medium-sized good-quality cooked prawns
3tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A couple of handfuls of Asian salad leaves like mizuna, tatsoi, tiny pak choi, pea shoots (from Thai or Chinese supermarkets), or just some small salad leaves, washed and dried
A handful of herbs like coriander, mint, Thai basil, Thai parsley, betel leaves and perilla, washed and dried
1 green or under-ripe mango, peeled
40g mange tout, shredded
4 spring onions, finely shredded
A handful of bean sprouts
1 small red chilli,
seeded and finely diced
1 stick of lemon grass, trimmed and chopped as finely as possible
A small piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1tbsp rice vinegar
3tbsp vegetable oil
1 | Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and leave to infuse for at least an hour.
2 | On a mandoline, or with a sharp knife, slice the mango as thinly as possible, working around the stone. Mix all the ingredients for the salad with the dressing and prawns and serve in individual bowls or a large serving dish.