These last few days, I haven’t cooked much. For me, nice weather is the perfect excuse to let hubby light the barbecue when he comes home from work while I pour us drinks and fix a quick apéro. My Latina blood loves this more than I can ever explain, hence the bitching when it’s cold (and it should be HOT).
The only action happening in my kitchen is the making of salads. I love salads, and I’ve probably said that a million times before. Even in the dead of winter, there’s no better lunch than a huge bowl of greens, a little protein and a nice, homemade dressing (I don’t use yucky stuff from a bottle, the ingredients scare me!).
During the warmer months, salads are not only healthy, but also deliciously refreshing. If you allow yourself to be inspired by nature and use fresh ingredients you will see that the variations in taste, color and texture are as big as your imagination. Served with bread and paired with a good wine, they make the perfect light meal. Pure, fresh and bursting with vitamins!
This salad is truly summer on a plate. The delicate flavor of the baby greens combined with the sweetness of the dressing form the ideal base for the rest of the ingredients: fragrant, crunchy walnuts, crusty bread topped with a creamy layer of grilled goat’s cheese, paper-thin slices of raw ham and as a finishing touch, sunny raspberries.
The salad makes a wonderful, light lunch for two, but you can also offer it as an elegant starter for four. If you serve the salad as a starter to a barbecue, follow it with a grilled leg of lamb and round off the meal with a creamy dessert such a crème brulée dusted with a touch of lavender sugar.
Summer Raspberry & Ham Salad
For 2 people (or 4, as a starter)
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsps walnut oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tsps honey
- fleur de sel
- freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 slices pain de campagne
- 4 petits chèvre doux (soft goat’s cheese)
- 100g mixed baby leaves
- 100g fresh raspberries
- 6 slices raw ham (approximately 60g)
Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl until they emulsify. Roast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until they release their delicious aroma. This usually takes 2-3 minutes. Spread the goat’s cheese on the slices of bread and place them under a hot grill until the cheese begins to bubble and brown in some places. Place the baby leaves in the bowl with the dressing and toss until each leaf is coated with dressing. Divide the salad among two plates and sprinkle with the walnuts. Top with the fresh raspberries and the ham. Cut each warm slice of bread in half and lay both halves on top of the salad. Serve immediately, preferably with a lively, aromatic Sancerre.
I love fruit in salads, and strawberries work really well in almost every salad. The following recipe is one of my favorites during picnic season. Just make sure you take the dressing separately in a small jar. The salad is also great as lunch with thick slices of rustic whole-wheat bread and real salted butter.
My usual lunch is some kind of a salad. Not only are they quick and easy to make, but they are also a great way to make sure you get enough fruits and vegetables. Most of the salads I make are simply the result of whatever I have in my kitchen (or growing in my garden) at that moment.