Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Summer salads - healthy and tasty

Hello you lovely lot. The sun is shining today and I'm feeling all summery - the floaty maxi skirts are out (not quite ready for totally bare legs yet!!!) and the sandals are on!

If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that we recently purchased a second hand barbecue for a great price and since then my husband has full on barbecue fever!! My little boy, who is doing very well at trying new foods, is now requesting that all his food be barbecued - so much so that his devoted daddy was even barbecuing potato waffles in the rain recently - he's a keeper :)

Now, I love food (as you may have realised) but it has to be said that I'm not the biggest fan of red meat which can often overtake a good barbecue so I've been busy making lots of salads to accompany this and by default I'm managing to get my meat-loving husband to eat some more veggies (this is more difficult than with my four year old!) I thought you might like to see some of the recipes. I promise simple preparation and yummy, quick results - if Alex will eat them then they must be tasty! These are all easy and you can really chuck in whatever veg you have to hand - a great way to use up bits and bobs too.

First up is a classic, Beetroot and Feta salad.

So this is dead easy:

  • Grab some vacuum packed, cooked beetroots (they usually come in a 3 or four pack), chop them into pieces which are roughly the same size - this makes them easier to eat one-handed with a fork when eating al fresco and you run out of chairs! A regular pack of feta cheese usually is about 200g so chop this roughly the same size as your beetroot (there is no exact science here!)
  • Finely chop a handful of flat leaf parsley and add to the dish
  • Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (watch out for pips)
  • Pour over a good glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil  - (the Waitrose own Sicilian one is yummy!)
  • Pour over a slightly smaller glug of Balsamic Vinegar - make sure its the proper stuff from Modena (this is probably because I'm married to an Italian who is very fussy about these things but it does make a difference - don't worry though - you don't have to spend a fortune to get nice stuff)
  • TA-DA - you have a yummy salad. Give it a mix up but be careful not to break up the feta too much. Whack it in the fridge and it will keep for a couple of days.

Next up is: Squash, spinach and nuts: I love how the nuts give this great texture and I'm in love with the flavour of pumpkin seeds right now. This combination of foods is really good for you too!!

  • Get a medium sized butternut squash, pop it in a roasting tin as is and roast it in a pre-heated oven  (180C)  for about 50 minutes until it's soft inside when you stab it.
  • Once it is cool enough to handle chop it into chunks (a nice forkable size as above) and discard all the seeds and skin (you can eat it but I don't like it personally).
  • Set a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and then toast a handful of pine nuts and a handful of pumpkin seeds in it. Give them a couple of jiggles and keep going until the pine nuts have a slightly darker colour (try not to burn them!)
  • Turn the heat of the pan down and throw in some fresh spinach leaves, heat through until they are wilted but not disappeared and all too limp. 
  • Throw the butternut squash into the same pan and heat everything through together. 
  • Add a glug of that olive oil and season if you like with some black pepper. 
  • Eat warm or cold with a dash of Balsamic vinegar if you like and you can also add some Parmesan shavings as you serve it if you like. 
  • Again if you cover this in the fridge it will keep for a couple of days. 

Lastly, Mackerel layered chick pea salad. Dead easy again and a great way to get some oily fish into your diet plus the chickpeas are super too:

  • Buy some vacuum packed smoked, peppered mackerel fillets. (the peppered ones are much nicer - if you like pepper - if not then just buy the plain). The great thing about this is that it keeps for a while and there are no bones to worry about. 
  • Wash and chop all the salad ingredients to the same size chunks
  • Slice the lettuce leaves of your choice (much easier to eat when they are smallish) and lay at the bottom of your dish. I love Romain or Little Gem lettuce. You can include some fresh basil leaves here if you like or even some fresh spinach leaves too. 
  • Next add a layer of chopped red pepper - lovely sweetness and gorgeous colour. You can put orange and yellow in too - just use up whatever you have
  • Add a layer of chopped cucumber
  • Tinned chick peas are fabulous - super cheap, super tasty and super good for you! Strain them and wash them under the tap and drain again. Pour them into the dish as the next layer. 
  • Add a layer of chopped tomatoes. My favourite are baby plum tomatoes - such a yummy flavour - any will do though. (keeping the tomatoes and cucumbers at the top stops them from getting too squished and leaking all their juicy goodness)
  • Lastly add a layer of flaked mackerel fillet. 
  • I like to cover it and pop it in the fridge like this. Then when you dish it out make sure everyone has a bit from each layer. This looks really pretty served in a glass dish so you can see all the colours. 
  • I let people dress their own plate with olive oil as above and Balsamic to taste. 
Well that's it. I hope you like these simple salads. Like I said, chuck in whatever you have - that's how I came up with these in the first place, this is just the sort of simple, healthy food I love. Make sure to let me know if you try any of these or if you have any yummy salad recipes you'd like to share. Why not check out my Pinterest board filled with yummy summery food ideas. 


  1. Bless your hubby BBQing potato waffles :) Those salads look lovely - feta works really well with squash and pine nuts too, if you ever have any left from the beetroot salad. I tend to throw rocket in with mine rather the spinach, but I love that basically you can do no wrong with salads- the more veg the merrier! xxx

    1. Thank you lovely! i always appreciate your comments :) Some great ideas - although BBQ star hubby isn't keen on rocket so I tend to only order it if we're out. You're so right though, can't go wrong!!


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