In this summer heat, lunch for your friends wants to be a light and fresh affair, Watermelon Gazpacho followed by three salads served with freshly homemade bread. To finish a small pot each of intense dark chocolate sorbet and crispy ginger biscuits.
BEETROOT & RADICCIO SALAD WITH PURPLE BASIL
The beetroot was roasted for an hour with whole cloves of garlic, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, sprigs of fresh oregano and olive oil, season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let the beetroot cool before mixing with shredded chicory and purple basil leaves.
LENTIL & POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH FRESH CORIANDER
His salad is cooked green lentils, a good amount of the little pomegranate jewels that I have plenty of in the garden this year, then finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and celery. Add a generous amount of roughly chopped coriander leaves and dress lightly with lime juice and olive oil.
I’m a fan of soaking dried grains so that when you come to cooking the grains are already re moistened in the centre, and so require less cooking. Pour boiling water over the lentils and leave an hour or so to steep before cooking until just tender. Drain the lentils and let them cool before adding them to the salad.
SALAD OF FRESH FIGS, ROASTED RED ONIONS AND HAZELNUTS
This is a Yotam Ottolengi recipe which has a lovely contrast of flavours with the sweet roasted red onions and figs, and the peppery watercress and rocket. His recipe uses radiccio rather than rocket, but as I have both I decided that the more peppery rocket suited this recipe better. I was surprised to find that what I thought was weeds in my vegetable patch is actually rocket, and it hasn’t become overly peppery in the strong Spanish heat.
I haven’t used roasted red onions in a salad before, and I have to say, I’m a total convert. I shall be roasting a tray full regularly so that I have them at the ready in the fridge.
This amount serves 4
2 small red onions – peel them and cut each into 6 wedges
50 grams hazelnuts with skin / or ready dry roasted unseasoned hazelnuts
1/2 small head of radicchio / or a similar amount of rocket
good bunch of fresh basil – either the green or purple
bunch of watercress with the stems removed
6 ripe fresh figs, cut into quarters
Roast the onions drizzled with olive oil at 180 C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool.
If you are roasting hazelnuts, turn the oven down to 140, and once it has reached this temperature, spread the hazelnuts in a shallow pan and roast for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then break up into pieces with a pestle and mortar. If you are using the ready roasted hazelnuts break these up as above.
To put the salad together, start with the leaves, rip them into pieces and put in a large bowl, add the onions and figs.
Dress with the oil and vinegar and gently toss. I like to do this with my hands as it’s more gentle than using implements.
Scatter over the broken hazelnuts and serve.