Salad days and lighter lunches


AVOCADO VOGUE Rich and succulent, avocados are full of healthy fats, flavour and goodness.

Red Cabot

Salads can at times appear very fancy; looking at some recipes can be like looking at a NASA manual! I, however, prefer the practical approach of using what is in season and fresh, simple preparation, carefully mixing key flavours and textures to produce a simple, homely result.
Here are two summer salads that are regulars in our house; one old and traditional from my parents’ generation, one new and trendy … You can guess which is which!
My fundamental belief is that one must get comfortable with the ingredients one uses in order to understand their individual nuances, but also occasionally try new ingredients, mixes, practices. Over time, this will help you incorporate new aspects and into your regular day-to-day cooking.

Carrot and poppyseed salad
I saw Mary Berry cook something like this on TV, and it opened up the memory box. A grated carrot and poppy-seed mixed salad reminds me of being a chisler on hot summer days and being called in from the garden for lunch. We used to make it with caraway seeds or raisins – but then that was the ’80s! Now we have fancy poppyseed.
Fresh, sweet grated carrot with its inherent fibre and goodness is a great canvas for interesting flavours to sit on. It always keep it for a day or two covered with cling-film in the fridge. Lunch can then be a rolling experience of making one dish new every day and supplementing it with what’s in the fridge already – just like the old days.

What you need
>  6 medium carrots (not the cheap, tasteless ones), peeled and grated
>  Juice of one small lemon
>  1 tsp poppyseed
>  1 tsp caster sugar
>  Good glug of olive oil
>  Seasoning

What you do
Place all your ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with your recently washed hands. What skills! Serve in a white bowl for maximum colour contrast.

Avocado, chive and crab salad
Summertime is THE time for avocados; rich and succulent, they’re just oozing with a high calorific content of healthy fats, flavour and goodness. The spring chive will offer contrasting crunch and crisp sharpness to the smooth seduction of the avocado, but you can always use red onion instead. Sweet crab meat comes in as a top dressing to wow your  senses even further. If you fancy it, you could substitute the crabmeat for crispy fried bacon. This is a simple but effective salad. Good visuals, bite, flavour and crunch.
The making of vinaigrette was a rite of passage in my youth. Could a young ’un do this adult job properly? What adolescent twist would you put into it? In summertime the fresh lemon juice in vinaigrette added an extra-fresh punch to regular vinegars, the wholegrain mustard adds texture to the dressing and adds visual positivity with the increased light.

What you need
>  2 ripe avocados
>  5 fresh chives, washed and thinly sliced
>  125g crabmeat

>  Olive oil
>  Juice of one small lemon
>  Tbsp wholegrain mustard
>  Seasoning

What you do
Cut the avacados in half, removed the stone, slice the flesh and scoop out disc shapes with a tablespoon. Place the avocado pieces in circular rings around the bottom of a shallow bowl, sprinkle the chives over them and crumble the crabmeat or bacon pieces on top. Before serving, pour the vinaigrette over the lot. (To make the vinaigrette, simply add all its ingredients together and mix well. Store in a glass jar with lid.)

> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.