Category Archives: Salads

A nice healthy lunch, that’s largely an assembly job


I eat insanely well during the week. My lunches are not calorie controlled, but because I tend not to eat dinner, I really pack my nutrients into the first half of the day.

This is a lovely lunch. It’s healthy but delicious; easy and you can of course customise it however you want. I tend to bake bread in the morning, so this is a good time to put some veg in the oven to roast it for lunch later on. I use red onion, peppers, squash, a good tablespoon of olive oil, some herbs. Whatever veg I have.

Come lunch time I either use some sourdough or, more frequently, some of these delicious flat breads: I buy the organic wholemeal version. They’ve got very few, natural, ingredients and also, unopened, keep for a few weeks so good to have in. Although I make my own flatbreads occasionally, I often just want a quick lunch and this enables me.

When I’m ready to eat I heat up my flat bread in a flat frying pan, then top it with some Tracklements Chilli Jam or Stokes Red Onion Marmalade – just spread a bit around. Then scatter some lettuce/spinach/rocket leaves atop, plus some avocado. Scoop up your roasted veg, top with some suitable protein if you so wish – goat’s cheese, crumbled feta, dry-fried halloumi, sardines etc. Scatter over some toasted nuts/seeds if you like, drizzle with olive oil. Eat. It’s delicious and you feel really good afterwards.


A nice healthy lunch: aubergines, tomatoes, feta

This is the sort of lunch that can expand to fit anything from 2-4 people on the quantities below. And it’s easy to augment it to feed even more. Quantities are fast and loose.

1 aubergine, sliced, brushed with olive oil and griddled

A good handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

100g or so of feta, crumbled

A few basil leaves, torn or chopped

A tablespoon/glug of extra virgin olive oil

A handful of pine nuts, dry fried for a few minutes in a frying pan

All I do is have everything at room temperature (if you haven’t just cooked the aubergines), lay the aubergine slices on a big plate, and then just scatter the other ingredients on top. Easy and delicious. If it’s hot outside and you have time, put the olive oil over the tomatoes, season and scatter the basil atop and leave out in the sun (away from elks and birds) for half an hour.


Watermelon and feta salad. The perfect lunch for a hot day.


Eating watermelon makes me think immediately of southern Italy, where I spent so much of my childhood. It’s so evocative, it almost makes me want to weep.

Childhood life in Italy was so different to life in London. In London we lived in a two bedroomed flat in a mansion block in west London. Opportunities for roaming the streets were few and far between. In Italy, almost from the moment we stepped foot onto the dusty soil of my mother’s home village in provincia di Avellino, we were free. My mother had her mother, cousins, sisters etc to talk to, we had streets to explore and railings to climb and old houses to dare ourselves to enter. I spent most of my childhood summers wearing a pink and white towelling bikini, playing out with friends, until I was called in to lunch, or dinner, or ‘per la merenda’ (a mid afternoon snack). We frequently ate watermelon, spitting the black pips as far as we could, sitting in the shade of the porch, whilst the grown ups had their afternoon siesta.

This recipe is by Ottolenghi from his Plenty book. It doesn’t seem like much but it is plenty (ha ha). Ottolenghi says you should “eat this on the beach, or at least outdoors, on a hot day, with the sun’s rays unobstructed’. It’s a perfect summer lunch and basically, an assembly job.

You take some chilled watermelon which you’ve cut into wedges, some feta which you’ve cubed, some basil leaves which you’ve torn asunder and a small red onion which you’ve sliced thinly if you like (if not, leave it out). You put the melon and feta on a plate, sprinkle over the basil and onion if using and drizzle some olive oil over the top. That’s it. But don’t dismiss it because of its simplicity, it’s got lots going on.

A tre colori of sorts

This recipe originally comes from a marvellous book called Salads by Peter Gordon.  I first made it about two years ago and my mouth fell open in wonder when I tasted it, which was handy as I could fork more of it in. I’ve changed it, the proportions, but also the tomatoes. Gordon originally asked for cherry tomatoes that you cook in olive oil on a high heat for a few minutes, until the skins burst, then cool them. But I use Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s honey roasted cherry tomatoes in this.

You can play around with quantities, and to a certain extent ingredients (you can leave the chilli out, I do frequently so my children will eat it).  It’s far and away the best ‘tricolore’ (tre colori in Italian) I’ve ever eaten. If you can’t be bothered to honey roast the cherry tomatoes first, and I’ll admit is is a faff, then just do them PG’s way. But you’d be missing a trick.

This serves 2/3:

1 quantity of honey roasted cherry tomatoes, which you can of course have made the day before (but bring up to room temperature, please). Enough for how many of you there are eating.

A  packet of really good corn chips. I use Kettle Chips plain ones. Don’t kid yourself, you’ll eat them all.

250g mozzarella, you need the one in the liquid, not the harder block. Obviously more if you’re feeling really hungry but this is surprisingly filling due to the good fats in it.

for the dressing:

a handful of basil leaves, cut into strips

1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Now avocado oil is expensive and not entirely necessary but it makes a lovely salad dressing so it won’t go to waste. Use extra virgin olive oil if you haven’t got the avocado oil.

pinch of salt

for the guacamole:

2 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons of avocado oil

2 tablespoons of fresh lime

Some chilli flakes (the original calls for a thinly sliced mild red chilli)

A handful of coriander, chopped

2 spring onions, sliced thinly

Either make the tomatoes on the day you eat this, or the day before and fridge them. But either way you want the tomatoes to be at room temperature when you eat them.

Put the shredded basil leaves in a jar or glass with half the avocado oil and a big pinch of salt. Shake well and leave it in the sun for ten minutes if possible. Don’t worry if this bit isn’t possible.

Make the guacamole by cutting the avocados in half and scopping out the flesh. Put the other ingredients, and the avo, in a bowl and mash together. Taste and add seasoning if you think it needs it (it will probably need a bit of salt).

Then all you do is plate it up. A dollop of the tomatoes, tear up the mozzarella, spoon the guacamole on the plate. Drizzle the dressing over it and place corn chips around the side.

If you don’t mew and coo when eating this something had gone wrong.

Beetroot salad dressing

I’ve been meaning to post this up for ages, as it’s my current favourite salad dressing. But I couldn’t remember where I’d found it. It was getting pressing as it’s coming into beetroot season now (er, I think, at least ours are being harvested).

When I like a recipe that I see in a magazine, I tear it out and put it in a Muji folder that has clear sleeves, so you end up making your own recipe book. It works really well: you can change the order round, very easily get rid of recipes you don’t end up using much, and the plastic sleeve that encases every page keeps them clean of cooking splashes.

Here is the one of the pages from one of my many recipe books using torn out magazines put into Muji PP folders. It just so happens it’s a pic of some chocolate cheesecake ice cream cookies..also I know that when I post this on Facebook this is the picture that will come up, and I bet more people will read it thinking it’s about biscuits/chocolate rather than vegetables.

If I really like a recipe and use it lots, I write it out in my Travelling Cookbook, which is so named as we take it with us when we go away and is a large Moleskine book, much used, much loved and I like that it’s all handwritten (I have romantic ideas that my daughters will one day inherit this book and say things like “look, that’s Mamma’s famous chocolate mousse recipe“). This is what I’d done with the beetroot dressing recipe, which is why I had no idea whose it was. I have about 10 of those Muji folders, each housing 60 sleeves, ergo 120 recipes, so I kept meaning to go through and find the original.

You get the point.

Finally, as is the way of these things, I found it whilst looking for something else. It was by Yotam Ottolenghi, who is fantastic. He gives it as part of a bigger recipe involving gorgonzola, radiccio and toasted almonds, but you can put this dressing on almost any type of salad. Drizzle it on (use one of those squeezy bottles chef use if you have one) as if you actually toss the salad in it, whilst it will still taste delicious, it really won’t look so hot.

This dressing makes a fair amount – I’d say enough for six very greedy people, it keeps for a day or two but not much longer so make less if there are less of you.

One small beetroot, cooked (I buy mine precooked, otherwise roast it til soft)
20g honey
15g Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove (I tend to leave this out)
25ml cider vinegar
salt and pepper
120ml extra virgin olive oil

Yotam (cos we’re on first name terms, I wish), suggests you blend everything together (I use a mini blender, the one that attachs to my Braun Multistick thing, really useful piece of equipment) and then add half the oil, mix up and then other half. I have to say I just bung it all in and it’s fine.