Nigel Slater’s Easy Summer Salad Recipes | Salad

AAlmost everything on the table this month is a kind of salad: steamed beans dressed with ripe fruit and aromatic herbs; roasted peppers with a salty dressing of olives and anchovies; slices of ripe melon and sweet shellfish; or a recipe to use the last asparagus of the year. As summer progresses, there may also be a potato salad, still hot and steaming with olive oil, lemon and chopped fennel leaves or dill, smoked mackerel and jagged pieces of peeled cucumber.

There might be some meat in it: a plate of thinly sliced ​​cold pork roast with plenty of snow-white fat and chewy crackling, or perhaps some soft folds of air-dried ham. And while there will only be a luxurious fresh crab lunch, there will also be smoked trout or, occasionally, shrimp marinated in olive oil and lemon, with basil and thinly sliced ​​garlic.

Cereals such as millet or quinoa, couscous (which is only in appearance) or bulgur form the backbone of salads with masses of chopped parsley, dill and mint. I dress them with apricots (sometimes raw, sometimes grilled) or tomatoes of all shapes and colors. At this time of the year, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to salad leaves. I’ve put together dazzling assemblages of warm, spicy, soft and crunchy leaves to suit anything else on the table.

Salad of white crab and melon

Wonderful things happen here: sweet white crab and ripe apricot-colored melon; salted capers and a pinch of heat from a red pepper. Crab is always a luxury, but I’m willing to pay for it as an occasional treat. Crab and cantaloupe are best when fully chilled, and cantaloupe really needs to be sweet, ripe, and juicy.

It serves 4
cantaloupe or honeydew melon 1kg (weight before peeling)
white crab meat 500 g
lime juice 2 tbsp
parsley 10 g, finely chopped
black pepper

For the dressing
lime juice 50 ml (1 or 2 ripe limes)
olive oil 50 ml
coriander leaves a handful
capers 2 tsp
Red pepper 1 small, finely chopped

To make the dressing, put the lime juice in a medium-sized bowl large enough to hold the melon. Whisk in the olive oil, then add the whole coriander leaves and capers. Finely chop the chilli, removing the seeds as you go, then add it to the dressing.

Clean the melon and remove the seeds. Cut the pulp into thin slices, then season it delicately with the sauce and set aside. (You can leave it in the dressing, in the refrigerator, for an hour or more, but not overnight.)

Put the crab meat in a bowl, add the lime juice, the chopped parsley and a little black pepper. Then mix very gently with a fork. You don’t want to mash the sweet white crab flakes. Arrange the melon and its dressing on a serving dish. Place the crab salad and parsley on top and bring to the table.

‘The last of the asparagus’ salad

Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

The British asparagus season traditionally ends on June 21, the day of the summer solstice. As a thank you to the asparagus gods I will mark the event with one last asparagus dinner of the year. This time, the spears will be boiled briefly, then dressed, still warm, with Mark Diacono’s delicious elderflower dressing, from his book A year on the otter farm (Bloomsbury, £ 25). It’s something I usually use with pale, delicate summer leaves like butterhead lettuce. As this is a celebration of sorts, sprinkle some flowers – nasturtium, rocket or chives – on top if the mood takes you.

It serves 4
For the asparagus
asparagus 24 lances
rocket flowers a handful (optional)

For the dressing
elderflower cordial 2 tbsp
White wine vinegar 1 tablespoon
olive oil 1 tablespoon

Boil a pot of deep water, large enough to hold the asparagus, and lightly salt the water. Clean the asparagus tips, removing the hard ends.

When the salted water boils, drop the peeled asparagus tips and let them cook for 7-8 minutes until tender. The exact timing will depend on the age and girth of your spears, so test regularly with the tip of a kitchen knife.

Prepare the dressing: blend the elderflower cordial and vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Add the oil and blend until the mixture forms an emulsion. Taste for seasoning.

Lift the asparagus tips from the water and gently shake them to dry. Arrange them on a long serving dish, pour over the sauce and stir gently until the asparagus is covered, then sprinkle with the rocket flowers.

Grilled peppers, tomatoes and tapenade

Grilled peppers, tomatoes and tapenade
Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

The flavors of the deepest summer: ripe peppers and peeled tomatoes, purplish black olives and anchovies. I roasted the peppers, so that you get a puddle of caramel-colored roasting juices with which to soak the hot toast, but if you prefer you can grill the peppers. If you take that route, use a generous splash of olive oil to season the toast before setting the peppers in place.

It serves 2
red or mixed peppers 300 grams
olive oil
tomatoes 4 medium
red wine vinegar a bit
sourdough bread 4 slices

For the tapenade
pitted black olives 125 g
anchovy fillets 8
parsley 2 tbsp
olive oil 2 tbsp

Set the oven to 180 ° ventilated / gas mark 6. Place the peppers in a pan, pour over 3 tablespoons of olive oil and let them roast for 40 minutes until they are puffy and brown in patches.

To prepare the dressing, finely chop the black olives and anchovies and mix. You can do this by hand or in seconds using a food processor. Chop the parsley and add it to the olives together with the olive oil. If necessary, you can keep this mixture in the refrigerator for several days.

Remove the peppers from the oven, cover with a lid and leave to rest for 20 minutes. The steam they produce by covering themselves will melt their skins. Peel the peppers and discard them, then cut each pepper in half and remove the seeds. Arrange the flat peppers on a serving dish.

Thinly slice the tomatoes. Sprinkle them with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, and season with black pepper.

Toast the bread on both sides, then season it still hot with a little pepper oil. Place a piece of roasted pepper on each slice of toast, then a tablespoon of tapenade sauce and serve with the sliced ​​tomatoes.

Herbal summer omelette salad with green olives and thyme

Herbal summer omelette salad with green olives and thyme
Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

I prepare this condiment as much for its fragrance as for its flavor, with its summer notes of green olive and lemon and its softer hint of young and sweet garlic. Season the freshly cooked omelette still warm.

It serves 4
For the omelette
spring onions 5
olive oil 2 tbsp
egg 4
dill fronds 10 g
mint leaves 8 g
parsley leaves 15 g
Butter 30 g
sprouted seeds a handful, such as green beans or lentils
fresh thyme leaves and their flowers 1 tablespoon, to finish

For the dressing
olive oil 50 ml
pitted green olives 100 grams
red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon
garlic 1 small clove, peeled
Lemon peel 1 Teaspoon
parsley leaves 10 g

To prepare the dressing, place the olive oil, pitted olives, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest and parsley leaves in the bowl of a food processor and blend for a few seconds.

To make the omelette, thinly slice the spring onions. Heat the olive oil in a shallow non-stick pan with a heat resistant (metal) handle – I use one about 20cm in diameter on the base – then add the spring onions and let them cook for 3 to 4 minutes until until they are soft.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly with a fork to mix the yolks and whites. Finely chop the dill, mint and parsley leaves, then add them to the beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the raised grill (oven).

Add the butter to the spring onions and let it melt. Keep the heat at a moderate level. Pour in half of the egg and herb mixture, add the sprouted seeds, then cook the mixture for 3 or 4 minutes until the eggs have congealed. Place the pan under the hot grill for a minute or two to solidify the surface of the omelette. Slide the omelette onto a cutting board, then repeat with the remaining egg mixture.

Slide the second omelette from its pan onto the cutting board and slice both into ribbons, about 1 cm wide. Place them in a bowl, add the dressing and mix gently, then transfer them to a serving dish.

The green olive dressing is delicious with a little fresh thyme or thyme blossoms added as you toss the omelette ribbons and season together.

Spiced apricot and zucchini couscous

Spiced apricot and zucchini couscous
Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

It serves 4

vegetable broth 250 ml
couscous fine and quick cooking 125 g
apricots 12
runny honey 2 tbsp
cinnamon powder 1 Teaspoon
ground coriander ½ tsp
zucchini 4 medium
olive oil 5 tbsp
parsley leaves 10 g
mint leaves 5 g
flakes of almonds 4 tablespoons, toasted
Lemon ½ juice

Line a baking sheet or baking tray with aluminum foil. Preheat the raised grill (oven).

Heat the vegetable broth in a small saucepan. Put the couscous in a heat resistant bowl and pour the hot vegetable broth over it. Stir briefly, then cover with a lid or plate and set aside.

Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones. Place the honey in a bowl and combine the ground cinnamon and coriander. Add the apricots and mix the fruit and honey, until everything is well coated, then pour out onto the wire rack or baking sheet. Make sure the fruit is in a single layer, then cook under the heated grill for about 8-10 minutes until the honey begins to caramelize. Remove from the grill and set aside.

Peel the courgettes and cut them into quarters lengthwise, then into short pieces of about 3 cm in length. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then add the courgettes and season them delicately in the seasoned oil. Place them on the grill – it doesn’t matter if there’s any honey or apricot juice left – and grill them for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Turn them over and cook on the other side, then remove them from the grill and add them to the apricots.

Chop the parsley and mint leaves and season with the flaked almonds, the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Pass a fork in the couscous to separate the grains, then add the apricots, courgettes, parsley, mint and almonds. Check the seasoning.