At about this time every year, the end-of-summer pangs kick in and I try to wring out every last drop out of the season. I drink ice-cold rosé with dinner and eat every meal I can outside (with a jumper and blanket, if needed). It feels harder to let go than ever to say goodbye this year – I know I’ll be fondly recalling the glory of summer 2018 for years to come. Here are a couple of salads that use the last of the summer spoils, to be eaten outside at all costs. Our salad days.
Warm butter bean salad with green olives and tomatoes
This is loosely based on gigantes palki – Greek butter beans cooked in tomato and dill, then doused with a hearteningly generous smothering of good olive oil. I’ve eaten these on Greek summer holidays, but they are hearty enough for a colder September day, too – the perfect salad to bridge summer to autumn. I serve them just-warm from the pan; they are arguably better the day after when the flavours have had time to marry, making for excellent leftovers and packed lunches.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Good extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
250g tomatoes, cut into small pieces
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained (or 500g home-cooked beans)
2 tsp red-wine vinegar
10 green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
1 small bunch dill, roughly chopped
Feta (vegetarian) to finish (optional)
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the onion and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and sweet but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another three to four minutes.
Add the tomato puree, stir until everything is coated, add the tomatoes and butterbeans, stir and leave to warm a little, then take off the heat and transfer to a bowl.
Add eight tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar, olives, capers, dill and a good couple of pinches of salt to the beans and mix well. Taste, adding more salt, oil, vinegar as needed, until balanced.
Serve as is or with feta crumbled over, alongside flatbreads or chunks of bread for dabbing up juices left in the bowl.
All-time favourite chopped salad with honey dressing
This is without question the salad I make the most at home, but it recently dawned on me that I’d never written down the recipe. Perhaps it feels too simple. But if the mark of a good recipe is how often you make it, then this would be top spot. This chopped salad acts as a base to which other things can be added: avocado, feta, other crunchy veg, peppers, raw beetroot (add at the end unless you want a pink salad), peas or green beans.
Prep 15 min
2 carrots, peeled
100g seeds, toasted (I use a mix of pumpkin, sunflower and poppy)
4 spring onions
12 cherry tomatoes – a mix of colours
2 little gem lettuces
A few sprigs of mint, leaves picked
A few sprigs of basil, leaves picked
For the dressing
½ tsp mustard
½ tsp runny honey or maple syrup
1 splash red-wine vinegar
1 big splash extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Get out your biggest chopping board: everything is going to be prepped and dressed on this. Put the hardest ingredients on the board first – the carrot, cucumber and radishes – roughly chop, then sprinkle the seeds on top.
Next chop the spring onion, tomatoes, little gem and mint leaves all together using a rocking motion, and sweep around the board with your knife until it is all mixed.
Make the dressing in a bowl or jam jar, pour over the salad and mix up again with your knife. Season and tip into a big bowl.