Tag Archives: hot salads

An in-between salad

Ok so it’s supposed to be spring. The sun is out but it’s just not that warm yet. Part of me wants to dispense with the winter dishes as I crave fresh light summery salads, but my body stills yearns for a warming and comforting dinner. I am a creature of habit and I like a nice roast dinner in the Autumn and Winter and maybe a barbecue and salad in the spring and summer, but that is just not happening yet. Apart from a few hardy friends who have braved the chill I’m not quite ready to brave al fresco dining.

This Sunday was just such a day. The sun was shining but a chilly wind blew. I wanted to eat light, but I had all the ingredients for a roast and it was that for which I yearned. But I couldn’t go the whole hog so instead I decided to go half and half with a salad that was both spring like, but also most importantly,  hot. I used the last of the purple sprouting broccoli from the garden which I combined with early Jersey Royals, red onions and peppers. It was perfect. Served with a rare pan braised fillet of beef and mini yorkshire puddings. Best of both worlds I’d say.

Winter / Spring / in-between salad:

500g Jersey Royals

1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper deseeded and thinly sliced

half a red onion

200g purple sprouting broccoli

juice of half a lemon

four fat cloves garlic

olive oil, salt and pepper

Wash the potatoes and put in a roasting tin. Pour over a good glug of olive oil, some salt and pepper. Toss well and roast in a hot oven gas mark 7/200 degrees C.

Finely slice the onion and pepper. Wash and trim the broccoli. After 45 minutes of the potatoes roasting heat some more oil in a pan. Toss in the onion and peppers and cloves of garlic which have been lightly crushed with the blade of a knife. Fry gently until starting to soften. Add the broccoli and fry for another five minutes or so depending how thick it is. My broccoli was the last from the plant and was quite thin stalked. When they are all half-cooked take the roasted new potatoes out of the oven and throw in the vegetables. Return to the hot oven for about 6 to 10 minutes. Tip everything on to a serving plate and dress simply with some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Trust me it ticks all the boxes.

Leave a comment

Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, salads, seasonal food, Uncategorized

Hot sprout top and flower sprout salad with crispy belly pork, red onion, pumpkin seeds and croutons: recipe

Sprout tops have long been a winter favourite, but as far as new vegetables go flower sprouts are quite intriguing. According to a website dedicated entirely to the flower sprout, Tozers the seed company spent some 15 years developing them as a more subtle alternative to the Brussel sprout. They certainly grow like a sprout, attached to a main central stem, but their little purpley-green shaggy leaves are more akin to curly kale.  Health wise flower sprouts they class as a superfood (both kale and sprouts are superfoods) and are jam-packed with vitamins and iron. Even Marks and Spencer got in on the act when they launched a year or so ago claiming that they would be stocking them.

Market garden manager Paul started growing them this year for the first time and I have watched their development with interest. The tiny fluffy buds have now turned into delicate deep purple flowers pretty much the same size as a sprout and they are just right for picking. I thought it was time to give them a try so I dropped in at Moelyci to collect a bag with a yummy weekend lunch in mind.

Saturday was the first clear day we’d had in a while, no supper club, no rain and no other plans so it was perfect for getting on with clearing the veg plots and doing a bit of pruning and weeding. With the excess of Christmas still fresh I’ve been craving salads and fruit, but with some fresh air in the lungs I’d worked up an appetite for more than a few leaves, so in the kitchen I went to rustle up something with a little more oomph.

For me hot salads are the perfect solution to my salad craving during the chilly winter months and so I came up with this. To my little bag of sprout flowers I added a good helping of sprout tops from my vegetable box, some crisp fried (Moelyci) pork belly and a good handful of croutons to keep up my trength for working out in the cold. An earthy mustard dressing with a drop of truffle oil finished the dish.

To make a hearty lunch for two to three people …or four if it forms part of a meal or you want a smaller serving,  you will need;

250g sprout tops or flower sprouts (I used a mixture of both. Make sure you wash them well as the tiny flowers heads tend to hold the dust and soil)

150 – 200g good bread, cubed and made into croutons.

300g diced pork belly (or you can use bacon, pancetta or even chorizo)

1 small finely chopped red onion

a handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing I used: 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of whole grain English mustard (but Dijon is good too), 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon ground nut oil, half a dessertspoonful white truffle oil (omit if you don’t have this) half a teaspoon honey and seasoning.

Put a large pan of water on to boil. Chop pork belly into cubes and put a frying pan on to heat. You don’t need any extra oil to cook the pork belly as it is already quite fatty and will cook in the fat released.

Make the dressing mixing all the ingredients in a screw top jar and giving a good shake. Don’t forget to taste it for seasoning and balance. If it’s too acidic add a tablespoon more of olive oil.

Once the water comes to the boil add the sprout tops to blanch. Bring the water back to the boil for thirty seconds to a minute and then add the sprout flowers. They are more delicate so blanch quicker. Leave for a minute, but make sure the sprout leaves remain bright green and the flowers keep their purplish colour. Drain and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Put another pan of water on to boil or save the first lot of water and keep hot.

Once the pork belly starts to crisp remove from the pan and put to one side. If there is a lot of fat in the pan drain most of it off. Toss in the cubed bread and fry over a highish heat until they start to turn golden. If you prefer you can make your croutons by coating in the remaining fat and then cooking in the oven for 20 minutes (gas mark two, 150 degrees C, 300 F) until crisp and golden.

Towards the end of the cooking time throw in a handful of pumpkin seeds and the finely chopped red onion. The idea is that they are just lightly warmed and not cooked until crisp.

When you are ready to assemble the salad, plunge the leaves into boiling water just to reheat and then drain well. Return to the hot pan and toss over a low the heat to dry slightly. Pour over the dressing.

Return pork to the pan and toss everything together so it is hot. Pile the dressed leaves in warm bowls or on to plates and scatter over the pork and crouton mix.

Eat greedily and feel virtuous about feeding yourself such healthy seasonal produce. Even the nine-year old liked it (apart from “those crispy nut things”…he mean’t the pumpkin seeds) 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, seasonal food, slow food, Uncategorized