Three salads for summer days


HEALTHY AND FILLING A broccoli, feta, hazelnut and cherry tomato has plenty of fiber and protein to keep hunger at bay. 

The Cabots

Growing up during the 1970s and ’80s a salad was an exotic, foreign construction that lay far beyond the reach of most household staples. If one was lucky enough to find oneself in a restaurant in those times, the height of sophistication was a Waldorf or Caesar salad. Gosh, chicken and pieces of toast in a salad! And with new-fangled, tasty dressings!
Look how far we have travelled since. Nutty seeds, blue cheeses, crunchy pomegranate pearls and even real flower heads can pop up in our salads. After joining the common market, Ireland became more exposed to continental produce, and the country began importing a greater range of vegetables.
The influence of international and foreign cuisines gave Irish cooks greater impetus to invent creative salads. No more was it tired lettuce and chunky onions. Salads became dishes in their own right, served as a starter or at the end of a meal, or as a showcase main dish to rival the traditional mainstays.
As to what dressing you opt to serve with your salad, there is a rich palette to draw from. Oils, vinegars, garlic, mustards, paprika, sugar, lemon, the list goes on. There is a plethora of good quality ingredients and oils to choose from for any dressing – encouraging us to be inventive.
The basis of the word salad is ‘sal’, meaning salt. The Latin word ‘salata’, meaning ‘salted’, was used to referred to ‘herba salata’, or ‘salted vegetables’ (vegetables seasoned with brine, a popular Roman dish). A good reminder to never forget the seasoning – but use sea salt to enhance rather than overpower the fresh produce.
Salad is not for wimps
The warmer days mean more salads. Some people have the notion that they’ll still be hungry after eating salad – on the contrary, these dishes can be filling, pleasing, tasty, and satisfying.
Try to keep salads simple, like the time-honoured simple combinations of red cabbage with bacon and red onion; carrot with roasted sesame seeds; potato and mint; beetroot with almond and yoghurt; curried rice with sultanas.
Here are three salad suggestions to get you thinking.

Broccoli, feta, hazelnut and cherry tomato
What you need
>  110g feta cheese cubed
>  400g broccoli heads
>  225g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
>  200ml French dressing

What you do
This visually attractive salads you can often be seen in the open wooden bowls of healthy eating establishments. The satisfying crunch of green broccoli is matched with sweet sexiness of feta and surrounded by ripe tomato flavours and juices, with an occasional extra crunch from the hazelnuts.
Start by toasting the hazelnuts in your oven – be careful not to burn them. Tip into a bowl and rub together so they lose their skins, then combine all the ingredients in an attractive bowl and gently toss with the French dressing.

Butterbean, smoked bacon and garlic
What you need
>  450g butterbeans
>  110g crispy fried lardons of bacon (fatty bacon from your butcher)
>  2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
>  juice of one lemon,
>  175ml good oil,
>  Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

What you do
You can use a can of butterbeans from a shop or else soak, cook, drain, cool the real things.  Place the bought/home-prepared beans in a bowl, fry the lardons and place on top of beans. Mix the oil, garlic and lemon juice together well and pour over the beans and lardons. Serve with some parsley scattered on top. Simple but effective!

Tuna pasta with mixed peppers
What you need
>  1kg fusilli pasta (pasta twists)
>  200ml French dressing
>  225g drained can of tuna
>  2 red and yellow peppers, de-seeded and finely diced
>  7 spring onions peeled and finely chopped
>  1 serving spoon black olives
>  1 serving spoon sun-dried tomatoes

What you do
Tuna and pasta always combine protein and carbohydrates well, while the colourful peppers paint a lovely scene. The other ingredients of spring onions, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes deliver background textures of punchy tastes.
Cook and drain the pasta (always in well-salted water). While still warm toss in the French dressing and allow to cool. Add the tuna, peppers, spring onions and tomatoes. Serve with any fresh, finely chopped herbs on top.

— Redmond

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling.
They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.

Most read Living