Barbecues and Summer Salads

Green Salad with Halloumi, Grapes and Pomegranate Dressing

This is a really unusual and very lovely salad: fresh and tangy and with a combination of distinct flavours that almost unexpectedly, work really well together (halloumi with pomegranate or olives and grapes, for instance). And the dressing is a lovely piquant blend of tart and sweet – finishes the salad off beautifully. You could eat this salad on its own for lunch or serve it alongside barbecued meats or fish. Really loved it and will definitely be doing this one again. Yummy!

Serves 4 as a side salad

What you need…

3 large handfuls of your favourite salad leaves

1 handful fresh thyme, leaves stripped and stems discarded

1 handful green seedless grapes, halved

1 handful red seedless grapes, halved

10 pitted green olives, sliced

250g halloumi cheese, cut into bite-sized cubes

Knob of butter

80g pomegranate seeds

for the dressing

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

60ml olive oil

What to do…

Tip all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar. Pop the lid on tightly and shake like mad. Set aside.

Place the salad leaves into a pretty serving bowl and then scatter over the thyme, grapes and olives.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the halloumi until golden all over. Remove and scatter over the salad. Drizzle over the dressing and toss the salad gently. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and enjoy being pleasantly surprised by this unusual salad before you reach for a second helping!

Inspired by…

Suzanne Husseini

How easy…

Well it’s salad so it’s not hard but very rewarding.

My Favourite Chicken Marinade

I’ve been doing this marinade for years and everyone who has ever tried it has requested the recipe so I thought I’d share. We used it this time to marinade whole chicken breasts before barbecuing them. But on other occasions, I’ve cut the chicken into chunks and fried the chicken in its marinade before adding it warm to a salad of leaves, avocado and bacon. Either way, its lovely: the chicken is succulent and has a rich, almost caramelised flavour – not too sweet but just rather gorgeous – it elevates the simple chicken breast into something much more enticing, if I don’t say so myself! Give it a go!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari (for gluten-free)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

What to do…

Score the chicken breasts lightly to enable the marinade to get into the meat.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken breasts, give them a quick stir, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade with a slotted spoon and barbecue until cooked all the way through.

Serve and enjoy! It really is lovely.

Serving suggestion…

I tried this salad from the Hemsley sisters this weekend and it works spectacularly well with the marinated and barbecued chicken!

Courgette Salad Close Up w

Per person: take 1 courgette, trim the ends and grate the courgette into a bowl.

In a small saucepan, dry-fry a handful of pine nuts for a couple of minutes, just until they are toastie!

Mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar .

Mix the dressing into the courgette, season well with sea salt and black pepper and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

I have no idea where the marinade came from but ‘thank you’ to whoever came up with the combination!

How easy…

I marinate, John barbecues – dead easy!

Scrummy Courgette Salad

I first tried this recipe as a side salad to go with barbecued meats. It’s so simple, I did wonder if it might be just a tad….boring….but I was delightfully surprised – it is a lovely, fresh salad with the added joy provided by the crunch of the pine nuts. Easy, quick, different and delicious!

Serves 1

What you need…

1 large courgette, trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Handful of pine nuts

What to do…

Grate the courgette into your serving bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir through.

Pop the pine nuts into a small, dry saucepan and dry fry for just a couple of minutes.

Mix together the oil and vinegar.

Mix the dressing into the courgette and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

The Hemsley Sisters

How easy…

You could almost do this in your sleep!

Zingy, Fresh Asian-Inspired Salad with Asparagus and Crayfish

Salad days are here – yippppeee and lordy, lordy, lordy, this salad is spectacular: it’s zingy and fresh and its fabulous tastes and textures demand your attention. Eat it by itself or serve with fish: terikayi tuna is ideal but also, try this salad on the side of a lovely roasted salmon fillet – maybe with a wedge of lime on the side. I’ve changed the original recipe by adding a few extra ingredients, most notably the crayfish tails (they were on offer) but equally you could add prawns, smoked salmon or even hot, seared scallops. Anyway, it’s just lovely! I’ve never understood why people think salad is boring – this one will knock your socks off – give it a go!

Serves 2 (this is based on the quantities used to make up the marinade – if you’re creating salad for more people, just increase the quantities accordingly).

What you need…

for the salad

A selection of salad leaves: handfuls each of red chicory, rocket, spinach and baby gem work well but really, it’s whatever takes your fancy and is in the fridge

5cm chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

Handful of mint leaves, torn

Handful of coriander, chopped

250g asparagus, trimmed

125g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)

for the salad dressing

1 lime, juice only

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you would prefer gluten-free)

1 red bird eye chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

What to do…

Pop the asparagus into boiling, water and cook for 2 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

Put all your salad dressing ingredients into a screw-topped jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until mixed thoroughly together.

When you’re ready to eat, take a large pretty bowl, chuck in your cucumber, tomatoes, all your salad leaves, herbs, asparagus and crayfish tails . Tip over the dressing and mix together. That’s it! Serve and enjoy this absolutely wonderful salad with a lovely crisp dry white wine. And relax….

Tip…

If you’re not too sure about the kick of the chilli, use just half, rather than a whole one

Inspired by…

Watching James Martin and Mary Berry, separately, and then doing my own thing.

How easy…

Well, it’s salad so it’s not hard is it?!