Friday, 10 December 2010

A Deliciously Simple Warm Salad

Something that you may not know about me is that I am a bit of a snob about my food.  Not to say that I won't happily eat macaroni and cheese or other more "simple" foods, it's just that I like to have variety in my diet.  And I am also not the kind of person who serves up "kids' food" to my children while cooking Malcolm and myself something more "adult".  I mean, first of all, who has the time?  Secondly, I love exposing my girls to new things, so much so that Malcolm nicknamed them the "gourmet babies" because I have been feeding them things like sushi, stir fries and curries since they were 12 months old or thereabouts.
I love to flick through magazines such as Delicious, Donna Hay and Australian Gourmet Traveller for meal inspirations when I am planning my menu for the week.  (Yes, I plan my meals a week in advance and then do one massive grocery shopping trip).  With the weather becoming much warmer in Melbourne these last few weeks, I have started looking for some interesting salad recipes I could cook either as meals on their own or as an accompaniment to simple steaks, chops or cutlets.

When I saw this recipe, by Robert Marchetti of North Bondi Italian Food, in the November 2008 issue of the Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, I just had to try it out!  It has some of my favourite spring/summer vegetables (asparagus, peas and green beans), looked simple to cook and I was fairly sure the kids would happily eat it too.  Served with some lamb cutlets (beautifully cooked by Malcolm), this salad was a hit with everyone in the family!  So, after that long preamble, here is the recipe, if you would like to try it out.

Zucchini, asparagus, peas and ricotta salata salad
Serves 4 as an entree

1 kipfler potato, cut into 1 cm dice
75g baby green beans, trimmed and cut into 1cm lengths
6 spears of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1cm lengths
1 small zucchini, cut into 1 cm dice
75g podded peas
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 golden shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup lossely packed mint leaves
1 Tb lemon juice
50g ricotta salata, coarsely grated (I opted to use regular ricotta, crumbled up, since this is easier to source)

1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, cook potato for 2 minutes, then add the remaining vegetables (not the shallot or garlic) and cook until the vegetables are just tender.  Drain the vegetables and transfer to a bowl of iced water to refresh, then drain them again and place in a bowl.  Reserve 1 Tb of the blanching liquid.  (I actually steamed my vegetables rather than blanching them because I felt this was a healthier option).
2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add shallot and garlic and saute until softened.  Add the vegetables and cook until heated through.  Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and add the reserved blanching liquid.  Stir to combine.  Add mint and lemon juice and stir again.  Spoon into a bowl and scatter with the ricotta salata.

Let me just say that my attempt at this recipe does not do the actual recipe any justice.  The photo of the original dish looked amazing, and I was too lazy to chop everything into 1cm pieces, ha ha.  Also, I forgot to add the peas to my dish, only remembering them after I had cooked and served up the entire meal...oops!  I hope this recipe has inspired you in the kitchen, it is certainly one I will cook again.


  1. Yum! definately gonna keep this on hand

  2. I liked it too (that was my plate in the picture).
    Next time maybe we'll use lamb backstraps - a bit more lean, though I do like using my Lord of the Rings quote "... malt beer, red meat off the bone"

  3. This salad certainly does look good, I love salad with potatoes in it!


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