Monday, May 07, 2012

Salad days

Being able to walk around the garden and harvest a mixture of fresh salad leaves is a treat. Our temperate climate means that we can grow salad crops most of the year however, now is the time when we get an abundant crop of leaves such as various lettuces, rocket, young beetroot leaves, chives and fresh herbs. Plenty of variety readily available to make the basis of a good fresh salad.

Crisp and vibrant mange tout add variety and sweetness to any salad and are best eaten within an hour of picking if you are going to get the full benefit of the natural sugars.

We eat a lot of salad during the year and I enjoy coming up with new ideas to try. This weekend we put together a Chestnut and date salad with an orange and garlic vinaigrette. Served on a thick bed of lettuce, cooked, chilled chestnuts and dried dates were topped with rocket and orange segments. A generous helping of Orange and garlic vinaigrette is drizzled over the salad. We also added some sweetcorn but it really wan't needed.

The orange and garlic vinaigrette worked very well as it cut through the dryness of the chestnuts and its slight acid taste worked well with the sweetness of the dates.

With a glass of wine, home-made bread and a lovely sunny terrace, what more could you ask for?

This is the vinaigrette recipe is really worth a try - I usually make up my own recipes, and adjust to taste, as I go on but here are the approximate quantities for two servings:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of English mustard
1 glove of minced garlic
Juice of half an orange
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Mix ingredients well and leave to infuse for 30 mins before using.

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