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Cooking With Salad Leaves

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cooking With Salad Leaves

Cooking with salad leaves? Well, not really... these low-maintenance crops require little more than a rinse and a spin before they’re plated up. But don’t get stuck in a casear-salad rut. Try our seasonal ideas for jazzing up your delicious home-grown salad leaves.

Make a Mezze Platter

Fresh, crunchy salad is the backbone for a menu of mezze. This style of eating is popular in warmer climates for good reason: lay out a selection of homegrown salads with some warmed focaccia and a chilled bottle of rose, and you’ve the perfect summer supper. Here is a recipe for a minty Spanish salad with roasted peppers on the side.

For 2 people:
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Mixed Saladini, washed and spun
  • 100g Feta Cheese
  • 2tbsp chopped mint
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • Choose a selection of the following: Fresh bread, cherry tomatoes, steamed and salted new potatoes, bottled artichoke hearts, chunks of Parmesan, pickled beetroot, olives, and crudités of turnip, cucumber, radish, carrot, etc.

Cut the peppers in half and stick them under a hot grill until the skin blackens. Put the peppers straight into a plastic bag, seal, and leave for a minute before removing them and peeling them. Cut the peppers into thick strips and lay on a plate. Sprinkle the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper over the top.

To make the salad, arrange the dry salad leaves in a large bowl or plate. Use an empty jar to shake together the lemon juice, olive oil, and mint – or whiz in a blender. Crumble the feta over the salad leaves and drizzle generously with the minty dressing.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Rocket Pesto

Rocket is a peppery, strong-flavoured salad leaf that makes a very distinctive pesto. While you can enjoy it as a pizza topping or stirred through hot potatoes, it’s delicious with sweet, grilled summer vegetables.

For 2 people:
  • 1 aubergine, thickly sliced
  • 1 medium courgette, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, halved
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 packed cup rocket leaves
  • 1tbsp pine nuts
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4tbsp good olive oil
  • 4 thick slices Ciabatta or country bread
  • Handful fresh Saladini, washed and dried
  • Mayonnaise, to serve

First grill the vegetables: start with the aubergine and courgette, and grill until golden on both sides. Then put the peppers (cut-side down) and tomatoes (cut-side up) on a tray and grill until they are starting to blacken. Remove the tomatoes and keep grilling the peppers until the skins are black; remove to a bag, and when cool take off their skins.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the rocket, garlic and pine nuts into a blender and whiz to break up, then add the lemon juice and start to drizzle in the oil with the engine running. Keep whizzing until you have a fairly smooth, green emulsion. Taste to see if it needs salt, pepper or extra lemon juice.

Chop the peppers into thick strips. Spread mayonnaise on one side of your sandwich loaf and pesto on the other side. Top with the grilled vegetables and saladini. Then eat while it’s still warm!

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