I love the summer, mainly because it’s salad time! I never feel like eating very much during the day as it’s far too hot, so a salad is just right! Salads are quick, easy and light, not to mention healthy and ideal for hot summer days! While I always enjoy lettuce, tomato and cucumber along with the odd bit of beetroot, I thought I would look at something a little different.

Any of the recipes below would make an ideal lunch, go well at a BBQ or complement other dishes for an evening meal. I particularly like the combination of the watercress and pears, but I am not a big lover of Blue Cheese so I change this for Feta Cheese which also works in this recipe.

Buen Apetito

Watercress, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

6 handfuls of water cress
1 handful of sesame seeds
6 handfuls of rocket
225g Blue Cheese
3 pears
Balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp salt and pepper
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Set the oven on 180ºC and spread the sesame seeds on a baking tray and toast for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Place the watercress and rocket in a serving dish. Add the crumbled cheese and the pear slices. To make the dressing, add the salt and pepper to the vinegar and whisk in the olive oil. Spoon the dressing over the salad and toss carefully. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top and serve.

Spicy Prawn Salad

1 small onion
2 sticks celery
5 small green chillies
2 tbsp sunflower oil
400g can chopped tomatoes
1tsp brown sugar
700g prawns
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
½ dried thyme

Peel and chop the onions and celery. Remove the seeds from the chillies and finely chop. Heat the oil and fry the onion, celery and chillies for 5 minutes until soft and brown. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme and sugar, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens slightly. Peel the prawns and add to the sauce and gently cook for 5 minutes. Serve in Tabasco sauce and serve immediately.

Asparagus and Goat’s Cheese Salad

2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
100g rocket
150g goat’s cheese
75g pine nuts
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2tsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp runny honey

In a bowl, toss washed and prepared asparagus with the oil until coated, then season and arrange on a rack under grill. Cook for about 4 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove and set aside. In a bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and season to taste. Divide the rocket between 4 plates, top with asparagus and crumble over the goat’s cheese. Sprinkle with pine nuts and then drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve immediately with warm crusty bread.

Caribbean Rice and Bean Salad

1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow pepper
1 tsp oregano and 1 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground spices
225g long grain rice
8 spring onions
225g can chopped tomatoes
375ml vegetable stock
400g canned red kidney beans
Tabasco sauce

Heat the oil and add the chopped onions and garlic until softened. De-seed yellow pepper and chop, then stir into the pan with oregano, thyme and all spice. Add the rice and stir well before cooking for 3 minutes. Add peel and chopped spring onions and tomatoes and their juice and stir. Add the stock and bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the kidney beans, then stir into the pan and simmer for a further 6-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed. As an optional extra add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce to suit your taste. Serve.

Runner Bean Salad

700g Runner Beans
30ml vegetable oil
4 tomatoes
1 garlic clove
Chopped parsley

Cook the beans in salted boiled water for 5 minutes and then drain. Heat the oil in a saucepan; add tomatoes, garlic and beans. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and turn the beans into a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.