It's time to get into some summer cooking that's easy on the cook. Can there be anything more inviting than the textures and flavours of a warm salad?
Just combine hot bacon, lamb, beef or chicken pieces with suitable salad ingredients, toss the lot in a delicious dressing, and hey presto.
Besides lettuce and tomatoes, think asparagus, peas, broad beans, spring onions, fennel, orange segments, capsicum, celery, pea or bean shoots, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, spinach, grated courgettes and green beans.
You might add croutons, crumbled blue cheese, a handful of pine nuts or a scraping of parmesan - whatever you think "goes" - while non-meat eaters could top the salad mix with a poached egg or fried haloumi cheese.
Today's recipe is one of my favourites, thanks to its tangy Thai- style dressing; use a citrus zester to shred the carrot and cucumber. Quantities are approximate; vary them if you wish. Although lamb doesn't figure in Thai cuisine, this combo is equally good made with one lamb steak per person.
WARM THAI-STYLE BEEF SALAD
4 medium sirloin steaks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 iceberg or cos lettuce, sliced
1 large carrot, shredded or grated
1/2 cucumber, shredded
3 spring onions, finely sliced
large handful fresh coriander
large handful fresh basil
2 tsp caster sugar
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 small red chillies
lime wedges, to serve
Season steaks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil in large pan until smoking, add steaks and cook for 4-6 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking.
Remove from heat and leave to rest in a warm place while you prepare the salad.
Place lettuce, carrot, cucumber and springs onions in a large bowl.
Tear coriander leaves and stalks and basil leaves into the bowl.
Mix together to combine well.
For the dressing, put sugar in a small bowl.
Roll limes to release juices, cut in half and squeeze juice into the bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add fish sauce. Taste dressing and adjust flavours, adding more lime juice, fish sauce or sugar to taste.
Finely chop chillies and add to dressing.
Thinly slice cooked steak and add to salad ingredients, together with the juices from the plate the meat was resting on. Pour dressing over and mix together well.
Transfer salad to a large plate, scatter with coriander and serve with lime wedges on the side.
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