With a heat wave approaching, it’s fair to say that summer is well and truly upon us. One of the best things about the warmer months of the year is that we get to enjoy the sun while eating our food – embracing everything al fresco.
No one wants to be sat in the sun eating, hot, stodgy meals though, and if you’re having friends over, deciding what to make can feel like a struggle. The great thing about salads is that they can include a whole host of different ingredients and be made to fit your taste.
Salads are fresh and delicious, and every bite provides you with a balance of flavour and nutrition. The only problem with salads is that they can often feel a bit bland and uninspiring, meaning you need a way to give it that extra bit of kick.
Here are a few ways to spice up your salads this summer:
If you want to give your salad a bit of heat, then fresh chillies are perfect to use. You can either dice them up as part of the salad itself, or blend them into your dressing to pour over the top.
Deseed your chillies before using them and finely chop them into little pieces. Sprinkle them over the top of your salad, or combine them with oil and lemon juice for a quick dressing.
Ginger is a favourite when it comes to juices and soups, but it actually works really well in salads too. Again, you can either add the ginger in with your lettuce leaves, or blend it as part of your salad dressing.
Use half an inch of peeled fresh ginger, and grate it straight into your salad – you can dice the ginger using a knife, but larger chunks can be overpowering when raw. You can also mix ginger into your salad dressing using a blender and combining with lemon juice, mustard, and vinegar.
Rocket has been used in salads since the Elizabethan times, and has a strong, peppery taste, giving the leaves a slight “bite”. The best thing about rocket is all you need to do is wash it and add it to your salad.
If you want to make a warm summery salad, then try combining pancetta, onion, pine nuts, and thyme in a pan, then mixing it in with your rocket, lettuce, and other salad vegetables. Top off with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar and serve.
The root of a member of the mustard family, radishes have a fresh, crunchy texture, and a somewhat peppery flavour. Radishes work best when thinly sliced and mixed in with lettuce leaves.
Try tossing the radishes in salt first and leaving to stand for ten minutes. Drain any liquid off, and they are ready. Use oil, vinegar, sugar, and garlic for the dressing, and leave the salad in the fridge for an hour before eating.
This tropical grass with a lemony scent is usually sold fresh, but can also be bought dried or powdered. Many people think lemongrass needs to be cooked before being eaten, but when used raw it has an intense citrus flavour and delicious crunchy texture.
The lemongrass needs to be trimmed down and thinly sliced, before being added into a salad. It can also be crushed into a paste and mixed into a salad dressing with lemon juice, oil, garlic, shallots, and basil.