As of last Wednesday (the longest day) summer is officially here. It is a very warm summer here in the UK, a rare thing, so we have been making a delicious range of salads at home to keep us cool. Salads traditionally got a bad rep as either a side dish or really bland on their own, but I think we have recently come a long way with this – there is an array of delicious salad recipes out there for every taste.
My favourite salad ever comes from the The Hairy Dieters Fast Food book. It is an amazing book full of healthy, fast recipes if you are counting calories (even if you are not, there is some great stuff in there). By far one the best recipes in the book is for Bang Bang Chicken Salad. I wouldn’t exactly call it “fast food” as it takes some time to chop the vegetables and make the dressing (unless you are a professional chef), but the result is really tasty and totally worth it. We have made it many times and it never disappoints. This time though, we spiralised the courgette to save a little bit of time chopping. Please see our version of the recipe below. Leftovers make an excellent lunch.
Bang Bang Chicken Salad, serves 4
460g skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
For the peanut sauce
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of pureed ginger
1 teaspoon of sriracha sauce
200ml of hot chicken stock (dissolve 1 chicken stock cube into 200ml of boiled water)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter
A few drops of sesame oil
2 heads of sweet gem lettuce
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks (or spiralised)
1 courgette, cut into matchsticks (or spiralised)
Bunch of spring onions, chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
Small bunch of coriander, leaves only
Unsalted, roasted cashews (optional, but give the salad a lovely crunch and texture)
Cut the chicken into thin slices and put them in a bowl. Sprinkle over the Chinese five spice powder and salt and pepper and rub into the chicken.
Add the oil to a frying pan and place it over the heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and fry it until cooked through. Pour over the soy sauce and cook for a further minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and put it on a plate to cool down a little.
Now make the peanut sauce. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and add the shallot or onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add all the remaining sauce ingredients. Simmer until the sauce is slightly syrupy and well combined, then cool while you make the salad.
Arrange the lettuce, carrot, courgette and spring onions on a large platter. Add the chicken, sprinkle with the chillies and some coriander leaves. We like serving the sauce separately, so those eating can add as much or as little as they like.
Below are some photos of our efforts. We didn’t add roasted cashews this time as we didn’t have any in, but they do add a lovely crunch. I hope that you enjoy this salad as much as we do at my house!
For a bit of an easier salad on a hot summer day, we love a Halloumi and Olive salad. I like to serve it with a big dollop of hummus and fresh pitta bread on the side. See my recipe below.
Halloumi and Olive Salad, serves 2
250g pack of Cypriot Halloumi cheese
1 head of sweet gem lettuce
3 spring onions
110g of baby plum tomatoes
1/2 a cucumber
A handful of green olives
Store-bought balsamic dressing (or you can make your own dressing with a little bit of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper – very yummy)
Around 1/2 a tub of store-bought hummus (if you have home-made, even better)
Fresh pitta bread to serve
First, make the salad. Chop the lettuce, slice the the spring onions and tomatoes. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then roughly chop. Mix all salad ingredients and add the olives. Set aside.
Grill the halloumi on a griddle pan brushed with olive oil. Once done, distribute salad onto 2 plates, put the halloumi on the top and a dollop of hummus on the side. Serve immediately with balsamic dressing and warm pitta breads.
Please see a photo of this delicious creation below – just delightful!
Happy summer eating!