Sunday, 4 November 2012

Skinny Summer Salads


It’s a myth that eating salads will help you to lose weight. A salad can be more fattening than a big Mac and chips if the vegies are swimming in a gluggy sea of greasy mayonnaise or oily vinaigrette. A small splash will do. Then a salad can really be health in a bowl.

We’ll be surviving on salads again for much of the summer. Rocket and a variety of lettuces are ready for picking in our garden.

On our skinniest days a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce, some ripe red tomatoes and sliced cucumber taste good by themselves. Here are some of our other favourites: dressed barely with oil or not at all.

Tzatziki :

To make tzatziki peel a telegraph cucumber. Scoop the seeds out and discard. Grate the cucumber coarsely into a strainer.Salt lightly and leave for half an hour to let the liquid drain out. Squeeze it by hand to dry it out further. Then stir it into a cup or so of thick greek yoghurt . Add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of olive oil, a crushed garlic clove and a squeeze of lemon juice. Finally stir through some chopped mint.

Tzatziki can be a light lunch scooped up with triangles of pita bread which have been brushed with oil and baked briefly in a moderate oven until crisp.

Tomato salad:

For this thickly slice ripe tomatoes, season with salt, grind over black pepper, drizzle with a splash of balsamic vinegar and little olive oil and sprinkle with torn basil leaves.

Beetroot, mint and pomegranate salad:

This ruby red salad is delicious. Peel and grate a couple of large beetroots. Stir in about two tablespoons of pomegranate molasses. You may like to add more but add small amounts at a time as its sweetness can overwhelm the salad. Stir in plenty of chopped mint.

Alongsideserve some slices of grilled haloumi and some toasted sourdough bread. This makes either a starter or a light meal

Couscous salad

Many of my salads just evolve as I rummage through fridge and pantry. I use whatever there is to hand, adding a little of this and that and tasting as I go. If anyone happens to be in the kitchen they are welcome join in. This is how Nick’s couscous salad took shape .

Although it looks more like breadcrumbs, couscous is actually a pasta which comes from North Africa. There it may still be made from scratch, a time consuming process which involves much rubbing and rolling but here the instant version is readily available. I like the wholemeal organic.

Couscous is incredibly versatile. As the mood takes me I soak it in water, chicken or vegetable stock, add different herbs, spices and vegetables, olive oil and citrus juice.

For the carnivorous this salad goes well with some barbecued chicken. For the vegetarians, falafel patties (made with a tub of falafel mix from the supermarket) will satisfy them

Leftovers will last in the fridge for a few days.

Nick’s Couscous Salad


1 1/2 cups of couscous
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
Olivani /butter 1 teaspoon
½ cup of craisins
1 packet of sliced almonds (lightly toasted)
2-3 spring onions
½ cup of chopped herbs (choose from parsley, mint, coriander or a mixture)
2 cups of roasted pumpkin ( cubed)
Juice of one orange
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.


1. Pour boiling water over couscous. Stir in 1 teaspoon of olivani/butter.

2. Cover and leave for a few minutes until the couscous has absorbed the water.

3. Stir it lightly with a fork until fluffy.

4. Stir in the remaining ingredients and season to taste.


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