Pete’s Food Corner: The perfect summer salad

Pete Moody grew up in Delph and also lived in Diggle and Uppermill before going up to Lancaster to study English in 1996.

Peter MoodyHe taught himself to cook from the backs of cereal boxes, Chinese whispers and Youtube, deciding the long hours, crippling financial difficulty and a snooker-player complexion were preferable to a teaching career. He is currently starting up a business in Shrewsbury.

‘YOU DON’T make friends with salad’, Homer Simpson once chanted, performing a one-man conga line around his lounge.

Other overweight, opinionated cartoon characters are available, but are rarely as succinct in their world view.

In a single generation the salad has ballet danced on to every board of fare from the top of the Shard to the local boozer to even the golden arches, yet it is still often seen as a garnish, a side dish, or an option to assuage some lingering personal guilt after, or before, another meal involving a pie.

But think laterally. Come at it from a different angle. A salad doesn’t always have to be an issue of psychological stress, or even all that healthy.

Whether it’s the pale English sun or the fine English drizzle (or both) beating on our brows, summer is a time when we eat less food and drink more squash. We instinctively gravitate to the green bits of the supermarket because they look better when the days are longer.

We don’t mind rubbing shoulders with vegetarians as we buy corncobs, broad beans, kale, leeks, courgettes and sprouting broccoli. We even feel more than the usual shame when we throw most of them away a week later ‘cos they’re stuck to the side of the fridge.

But you can throw anything into a salad. It’s the obvious way of using up odds and ends.

Tear up iceberg heart with mushrooms and courgette chunks fried in garlicky marg and crumble a bit of blue cheese over.

Pull the leaves off that wilting basil plant, dice that staling loaf into big chunks and mash them up with salted, peppered, quartered, overripe tomatoes and sliced red onion and olive oil for a decent panzanella. Clearly this is better with grated cheese.

If you have time break half a head of broccoli into florets and gently cook it in a frying pan with diced smoked bacon and black pudding, throw over some watercress and peas and serve with a poached egg on top.

Halved, cold new potatoes, shredded ham, mayo, diced gherkin and torn tarragon.

I’m coming round now to have a look what you’ve got. I’ve already sorted out the annoying part of your barbecue. Call some mates. Chill some ale. Make salad with friends, geddit?


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