Perfect summer salads

It's hot outside and all I really want to eat is salad, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites. These are all quick and easy to prepare and use only a few ingredients pared together with a simple dressing that compliments rather than distracts from the overall flavour.

Fig and prosciutto salad

Serves: 4

2 heads whitlof or chicory

4 slices prosciutto ham

4 fresh figs, quartered

50 g walnuts, toasted

50 g Pecorino cheese, thinly shaved

dressing

4 tbsp walnut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp verjuice

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

Trim the whitlof or chicory, cut in half and then diagonally into thick slices. Place in a bowl with the ham, figs and walnuts and scatter over the cheese.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, drizzle over the salad, toss well and serve.

A00891PRa Fig and prosciutto salad .jpg

Thai Smoked Trout Salad

Serves: 4

A simple salad, ideal as a starter with lovely fresh flavours of Thai cooking.

250 g hot smoked trout fillets

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

150 g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 spring onions, sliced

2 small red chillies, sliced

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

4 tbsp roasted salted cashew nuts

Dressing

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Thai fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp grated root ginger

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp sesame oil

Start by making the dressing. Warm together the sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice and ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool and then stir in the two oils.

Flake the smoked trout and place in a large bowl with the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, chilli and coriander. Pour over the dressing, toss well and serve garnished with the cashews.

A00892PRa Thai Smoked Trout Salad.jpg

Prawn, fennel and rocket salad

Serves 4

500 g fennel, trimmed

120 ml good quality extra virgin olive oil

grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove, crushed

a pinch of sugar

500 g large peeled prawns

125 g rocket leaves

salt and pepper

Using a mandolin very thinly slice the fennel and place in a large bowl.

Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper, pour over the fennel and stir well until the fennel is evenly coated.

Add the prawns and rocket to the fennel, stir well and serve.

A00894PR Prawn fennel and rocket salad.jpg

Thai beef salad

Serves 4

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sea salt

500 g piece beef fillet

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 carrots, pared into ribbons

2 Lebanese cucumbers, pared into ribbons

4 spring onions, shredded

1/2 bunch each Thai basil, mint and coriander leaves

Dressing

15 g palm sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp lime juice

2 small red chillies, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

Combine the Sichuan pepper, coriander and salt on a plate. Rub the beef fillet with oil and then coat with the spice mixture. Cook the beef on a ridged grill pan for 10 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Set aside to go cold.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Heat the palm sugar, fish sauce and water together until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cut the beef into thin slices and place in a large bowl with the carrots, cucumber, onions and herbs.  Add the dressing, toss well until evenly distributed and serve.

A00895PR Thai beef salad.jpg

Tuna tataki with sesame and ginger dressing

Serves: 4

200 g (8oz) tuna loin fillets

2 tsp sesame oil

75 g peeled edamame beans

a few micro herbs

Sesame, soy and ginger dressing

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp cold water

4 tsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

11/2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp grated root ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper 

Brush the tuna with sesame oil and season well with pepper and salt. Preheat a frying pan and cook tuna briefly on all sides for 30 seconds. Immediately rinse under cold water to stop the fish cooking further. Pat dry and set aside until required.

Blanch the edamame beans in lightly salted, boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Make the dressing. Stir the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

Thinly sliced the tuna and arrange on plates with the edamame and micro herbs. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

A00896PRa Tuna tataki with sesame and ginger dressing.jpg

Fatoush salad with grilled halloumi

Serves: 4

1 large green pepper, seeded and diced

1 Lebanese cucumber, diced

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 pitta breads

1/2 bunch each fresh parsley and coriander leaves

250 g halloumi, sliced

Dressing

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

Mix together the pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and herbs in a bowl. Char-grill the pitta on  preheated ridged grill pan until toasted. Cool slightly and tear into bite size pieces. Add to the salad.

Make the dressing. Stir the oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar and salt and pepper together and pour over salad, stir well and transfer to plates.

Heat a frying pan until hot and brown the cheese slices for about 1 minute each side until golden and softened. Arrange over the salad and serve drizzled with a little more lemon juice.

A00895PRa Fatoush salad with grilled halloumi copy.jpg

Fresh tuna Niçoise

Serves: 4

350 g new potatoes

125 g French beans, trimmed

2 eggs

500 g fresh tuna steak

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

4 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped

2 tbsp small French capers, drained and washed

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

50 g Nicoise olives

Dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 7 minutes, add the beans and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Place the eggs in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Immediately plunge the eggs into cold water, peel and cut into quarters.

Rub the tuna steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated frying pan for 1 minute each side. Rest for 2 minutes then cut into chunks.

Place the potatoes, beans, tuna, tomatoes, olives, capers and herbs in a bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad and stir well. Serve salad topped with the egg.

Fresh tuna nicoise salad b copy.jpg

All photographs © Ian Wallace

ianwallacephotographer.com