Summer and salad goes together like a horse and carriage, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut using the same ingredients over and over. Here are a few ideas for something a little bit different…
We’ve all heard of exotic grains like cous cous and quinoa but what about humble, homegrown barley? Possibly better known as the key ingredient in brewing, pearl barley is simply the grain with the outer bran removed. It has a nutty flavour and slightly firm texture when cooked so it can add some real interest to a summer salad. Just boil the grains in water until cooked then use as you might pasta or rice. Try flavouring it with lemon, orange or lime in the salad.
Strawberry vinegar is a wonderful alternative to balsamic vinegar as it will give your salad a lovely, subtle fruity flavour if you use it in your dressing. You can make your own – here’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe , but you can also buy it ready made. There is a famous family of strawberry growers in Cornwall called Boddingtons who make the most delicious, fruity strawberry vinegar which you can buy online. http://www.boddingtonsberries.co.uk/search.asp?types=Strawberry+Vinegar
Have you bought a spiralizer yet? They may seem like just another one of those kitchen gadgets that will soon be collecting dust, but at this time of year, they really come into their own and help make stars of some quite ordinary ingredients. In particular, courgettes run through a spiralizer are perfect for salads; they don’t need cooking and so retain more of their flavour. The shapes are fun too, so you might even be able to persuade your kids to eat them!
There are some who swear fruit should never be cooked unless its in a pie or crumble. But at this time of year, seasonal fruit such as pineapple, peaches and nectarines and oranges flashed under the grill or cooked on a griddle or barbeque can be fantastic additions to a salad.