As the warm weather has well and truly seeped in, our taste buds are craving seasonal produce. Crunchy, juicy and fresh foods are what we’re hunting for in our recipe repertoire. Since we’re in spring, I’ve put together two transitional salads that are winking their way into the warmer months. Now is the time to fuel the soul for the last few weeks where the wind is mildly chilly and you are still choosing red wine over rosé.
I’ve put together two seasonal recipes for green sides – a must with every meal. Each of these salads are the perfect addition to any lunch or dinner, or to just bring some extra flair to your cooking. I like to think that these taste just as good as burgers! While burgers are absolutely and undeniably a very important food group to enjoy when feeling indulgent, these salads will leave you feeling full, nourished and very satisfied!
Broccolini with Pangritata
Broccolini is one of those vegetables that are never left stocked at the supermarket. Most adults have a foul relationship with traditional broccoli; either having been spoon fed it in mushy form as a baby, or not being able to leave the table until every last piece of boiled swampy green tree has been eaten off the plate. Meet the new and improved older sister – broccolini. Tall, heavenly green, deliciously crunchy and hard to mess up in the kitchen. With absolutely no preparation involved, this is the perfect dish to cook up within 15 minutes.
I like to keep vegetables simple and strong. They have an incredibly delicious natural texture that needs a little heat to enhance. Lemon, garlic and chilli bring these crunchy goddesses to life. Indulge me here – most vegetables are better with a little bready crunch. I have paired this dish with a herby pangritata – a poor man’s parmesan. If anyone else is like my family, and did Hello Fresh for months on end and seemed to have a never ending supply of panko bread crumbs, this one’s for you.
Note – this is something that you can top on any loosely inspired Italian dish and taste its transformation first hand.
- 200g bread crumbs (I always store my sourdough ends in the freezer for this, however, panko bread crumbs are extra delicious!)
- A ‘glug’ of your preferred oil
- Minced garlic, to taste
- Dried herbs of your choice (oregano, italian mixed herbs, etc.)
- 2-3 bunches of fresh broccolini (broccoli will also work fine for this recipe)
- Herbs and spices of your choosing – I would recommend onion and garlic powder, chilli/red pepper flakes, lemon zest and flaky salt
- Preferred oil – here I have used the oil left over from making my confit garlic.
Preheat your oven to 190 C – you know your oven best. This recipe works well between a 180-200 degree heat, as we want to keep the crunch and avoid making it soggy. If you find your oven doesn’t circulate heat very well, place the pangritata on the top tray, and the broccolini at the bottom.
To make the pangritata, add oil to your oven tray and place it in the oven to heat. Preheating your oven tray with oil helps to heat it up before any additional food is added – ensuring the crispiest pangritata possible. Once hot, spread the bread crumbs, dried herbs and garlic until your heart’s content. Season with salt and add back to the oven.
To make the broccolini, preheat your oven tray, doused with your oil of choice. Remove when hot, add the broccolini, herbs and spices. Toss around, and then place in the oven. I cooked mine for approximately 7 minutes. This dish is best served with the broccolini crunchy but cooked.
Remove both broccolini and pangritata from the oven. Place the broccolini and residue juices in your serving dish and sprinkle heavily with your pangritata.
Top tip – try save some for your guests (;
Asparagus & Walnut Salad
Everyone loves whole cooked asparagus with butter but shaved asparagus ribbons calls for a party – it tastes like a party too. With half mildly pickled, and half left crunchy, this calls for textural indulgence. Though this might not initially sound as good as a burger – wait until you get the pickle, saucy, burnt walnutty goodness.
- 2-3 bunches of asparagus
- 1 spring onion stick
- Vinegar of your choice – I chose white wine vinegar but rice wine vinegar could also work
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- Oil of your choice
Separate the asparagus into two piles. Snap off the ends and trim if necessary. Use a mandoline, but a peeler should work as well. Take one half and add it in a bowl and lightly coat in sugar and salt. Add vinegar and water to ensure each ribbon is coated. Let rest for 10 minutes. This will form a light pickle to add texture and taste variation to this dish. You could leave this pickle for up to 30 minutes if you prefer a more acidic bite. Toss the other bunch lightly in olive oil.
Once prepared, drain and toss all the asparagus together in a preparation bowl. Sprinkle with your sesame seeds.
Add walnuts to an oven tray with a little oil. You can either use a high heat or the grill setting. I like to take the walnuts until half of each has formed a black burnt colour. This gives it a popcorn-like taste.
Slice the spring onion on a diagonal, very thinly. Add all the ingredients to the bowl and use your hands to toss. Get those juices flowing!
Choose your desired plate, using tongs twist onto the plate as an Italian would do with pasta. Top with additional walnuts and spring onions for a garnish. This is a dish that compliments flaky salt, so season to your preferred taste.