I am always looking for new ideas for interesting salads, particularly at this time of the year. Here are five delicious recipes from the internet sites of three of my favourite olive oil producers and two from the American vegetarian blogger Dina Honke and her great blog oliveoilandlemons. All the oils mentioned are available from The Oil Merchant in London.
My first recipe comes from Provence from the Hugues family who produce Moulin de Castelas DOP Vallee des Baux extra virgin and virgin olive oils. It combines fresh figs with blue cheese, honey and pine nuts.
Fresh fig salad with blue cheese
- 1 shallot
- 1/3 glass of balsamic vinegar
- 1 glass of olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ripe figs
- 20g honey
- 20g butter
- 250g mixed salad leaves
- 200g gorgonzola
- 20g pine nuts
Start by making a Vinaigrette. Mince the shallots. Pour the olive oil and vinegar onto them. Stir and season with salt.
Cut the figs into quarters, then fry them for 1 minute with the butter and honey.
Pour the vinaigrette onto the mixed salad leaves.
Add the coarsely-cut cheese, then the still-warm figs and then the pine nuts.
Potato Salad with Beans
Dina says that salad is a signature item for her. “When I have company I almost always have a big dish of potato salad ready to serve. It’s an easy dish to make and flexible in terms of the ingredients you put in it”. Here she has chosen yellow and green beans with freshly shelled summer peas. I suggest choosing a good Greek oil such as Lia.
- 8 potatoes, white or red skinned
- 1/2 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
- A large handful of yellow beans
- A handful of green bean
- About a cup freshly shelled summer green peas
- 2 radishes, any kind, sliced thinly on a mandolin
- 1/2 cup olives, pitted and halved, green and black
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- A handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Optional:inner romaine leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
Start by combining all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake to emulsify.
Steam the potatoes over boiling water until cooked through. Test by inserting a knife into the center, they are ready when there is no resistance.
Remove and let them cool a little, then peel, slice the potatoes in half vertically and cut each half into slices horizontally (about 1/4″). Place in a bowl and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Add the olives and onion and toss gently to distribute the dressing.
Wash the green and yellow beans and cut in half if large or leave whole if small. Steam the beans together in the same pot you steamed the potatoes. Do not overcook, they can still have a bite to them. Add the beans to the potatoes and toss gently. Add the peas and radishes.
Note: if you do not serve the salad right away I tend to leave the beans sitting on top of the potatoes and mix them in closer to serving time. They keep fresh if they are not tossed in with the dressing.
When ready to serve, drizzle more dressing over (the potatoes absorb the dressing as they sit). Gently mix everything together, add chopped romaine if using and serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
Grilled cabbage salad
My second recipe from Dina offers a different way with cabbage which not only tastes good but also is really colourful and looks beautiful on the plate. I suggest a well flavoured Spanish oil such as Marques de Valdueza.
- 1 small green cabbage
- 1 wedge of a small red cabbage
- Olive oil for brushing the cabbage
- Segments from 1-2 oranges
- Garnish: chopped nuts, pumpkins seeds, dried cranberries etc
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice from 1 small lemon
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Start by mixing all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to emulsify.
Cut the cabbage in half. Shred one half as you would for coleslaw and place in a bowl. Shred the red cabbage and add to the bowl. Cut the remaining half green cabbage into wedges and brush with olive oil.
Heat up a grill and place the cabbage wedges on the grill, cooking the cabbage until it is charred in spots and slightly wilted. It may fall apart as it grills, that is okay, just grill the pieces as you go. Cut the grilled cabbage into larger pieces and add to the raw cabbage.
Spoon some of the dressing over the top, add salt and mix to combine.
Scoop out generous portions and place in salad bowls. Arrange orange segments around and top with the nuts, seeds and cranberries. Garnish with flowers and leaves (or microgreens).
Serve with a wedge of lemon on each plate and extra dressing on the side.
Pasta salad with tomatoes and cheese
Marina Colonna grows a wide variety of olives on her estate in the Molise and produces are n excellent range of extra virgin olive oils from them, including some very interesting flavour oils such as Bergamot, Peperoncino and rose oil. This salad uses pasta as its base with semi-dried tomatoes and Pecorino cheese. The recipe comes from Monica Caldara.
- 170 g penne type pasta
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 6 pieces of semi-dried tomatoes
- 70 g pecorino cheese
- 10 peeled almonds
- extra virgin olive oil
Boil the pasta in salt water, dissolve the turmeric powder in the same water. While the pasta is cooking make the dressing. Drain the pasta and cool it under cold running water. Drain well and mix it with the dressing.
Chop the semi-dried tomatoes and cut the cheese into small cubes. Slice the almonds. Mix these ingredients together with the olive oil. Keep in the fridge until served.
Herring and fennel salad
This unusual recipe from Sicilian producers Ravida. It has a definite northern European feel from the herring fillets which are added to the traditional Sicilian ingredients of olives, fennel and oranges.
- 1 large fennel, hard outer leaves removed
- 2 oranges
- 1 herring fillet in brine
- About 16 black olives
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
Cut the fennel into quarters and then lengthwise into thin slices. Cut the herring fillet into slivers. Peel oranges removing all bitter white pith. Cut into thick slices and then chop in halves.
Mix oranges, fennel and herring in a serving bowl more or less in equal amounts. Season with the oil, salt, oregano and mix. Top with the black olives and serve.