When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, salads really come into their own.
Whether you’re trying to keep trim for beach season or just avoid slaving over a hot stove, a simple, flavourful salad will often hit the spot nicely.
If you’re in the mood to eat something a bit lighter why not try these five simple summer salads:
Light, fresh and packed with flavour, this Greek-inspired quinoa salad is best enjoyed when made a few hours (or even a day) in advance.
Rinse your quinoa thoroughly and cook in roughly one-and-a-half times the volume of boiling, salted water to quinoa, keeping the pan covered. This usually takes around 15-18 minutes, but you’ll know when it’s done when all the water has been absorbed. Once cooked, remove from the heat and keep covered, allowing to sit for a further 10 or so minutes.
Chop some feta, cucumber, tomatoes (with seeds removed), red onion, a little garlic and mint and mix into the quinoa with a good glug of olive oil and some lemon juice. Place in the fridge to chill ahead of serving.
Roast Peach, Burrata and Serrano Ham
This recipe is breathtakingly simple but delicious nonetheless. Served with some fresh bread this dish is perfect for dining al fresco on warm evenings with chilled glass of white.
Simply quarter some fresh peaches into a roasting tray, removing the stones and drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle over some fresh thyme leaves and roast in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes (if you don’t want to roast your peaches grilling or even barbecuing them works well too).
Finely chop a little red onion and add to some wild rocket. Tear in some burrata – you can use buffala mozzarella if you can’t get hold of any – and your choice of unsmoked, dried ham; I prefer to use Serrano but other hams like Prosciutto work well too.
Add the warm peach quarters, drizzle over the pan juices and tuck in.
This classic salad from the south of France has it all; it’s light, filling, high in protein and packed with potassium, B vitamins and fatty acids. Oh, and it’s pretty tasty too!
Rub your tuna steak with a little olive oil and sear briefly on each side making sure the pan is very hot, then leave to one side while preparing the rest of the salad.
Roughly chop some lettuce and add to it some tomatoes (sliced into wedges), new potatoes – cooked and sliced, finely chopped red onion, fine beans, hard-boiled egg slices, black olives and some anchovy fillets, thinly sliced. Run your hands through it to distribute the ingredients evenly.
For the dressing, mix together olive oil, a small amount of white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, finely chopped chives, parsley and garlic and toss into the salad. Slice the tuna, place on top and serve.
One for the meat lovers, this Italian steak salad is filling, nutritious, and best of all – because it uses less popular cuts of beef – it’s not too expensive either.
Your choice of steak here is quite wide-ranging depending on how well cooked you prefer your meat; if like me your prefer steak on the rarer side of medium opt for a cut like skirt or flank. If you prefer it cooked a little longer, rump is probably a better choice. In either case you want quite a thick piece, ideally an inch or an inch-and-a-half thick.
Marinate your steak overnight (in the fridge) in olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, a small onion cut into wedges and some crushed peppercorns. Before cooking bring the meat to room temperature by allowing to stand on the side for around 20 minutes or so. Heat a dry pan (a cast iron griddle if you have one) up to smoking temperature and place the steak (and onion pieces) in gently. Turn every 30 seconds and cook for about three minutes in total for a rare steak and around 5-6 minutes for medium – this will vary according to cut and thickness. Take off the heat and cover with tin foil to rest for around 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime finely slice some red onion, and toss through some wild rocket and pea shoots along with the cooked onion wedges from the marinade. Add some Parmesan shavings and slice the steak lengthways into centimetre wide strips. Arrange on top of a bed of the salad and season. Add some lemon juice to the pan juices and drizzle a little all over the salad before serving.
Chicory, Feta and Orange
This refreshing salad of sheep’s cheese, bitter leaves and citrus is perfect for a light lunch. It’s also great for getting rid of leftovers from the bottom of the fridge, simply add or substitute in what you have to hand.
Finely slice some red onion and add to chicory leaves (half the larger ones), rocket, orange segments (with skin removed), cubed feta, some chopped nuts (walnut or almonds both work well), thinly sliced green apple and some green olives. Make a simple dressing of olive oil and white wine/sherry vinegar and mix through the salad.
You can serve this as is, or for something a little more substantial, with a grilled chicken breast.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts – what are your favourite summer salads? Let me know in the comments below or fire me a tweet.
Disclaimer: I’m acutely aware as I gaze out of the window that our British summer may soon be coming to an end, nevertheless these salads make for good light options all year round, whatever the weather!
A version of this article first appeared on Student Wire, where the author is a contributor, on August 21, 2014.