Updated: Aug 28, 2021
Asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, tarragon croutons and crispy Yaycon pieces. Dressed with basil pesto, herbed mayo and topped with wild garlic crisps
Introduction and secrets of good cooking.
This salad shows how easily you can make something really tasty out of what you have already lying in the fridge. I will list what I have used to make this nutritious, bursting with flavours bowl but keep in mind there are plenty of ingredients you may have already in your kitchen that would make it as good as mine. Be creative but also think it through and follow these rules, choosing your ingredients carefully by their texture and flavours they will deliver following this guide:
- find few things that will give a nice punch to your bowl. Think salty, sweet, spicy... so capers, olives, 'feta' style cheez, sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced soy 'carpaccio' mushrooms or... Yaycon pieces would also count, goes well especially if you fried them for a bit because then you're jumping into the next point below which is...
- texture - look for a variations of different textures. Crispy and refreshing salad leaves like iceberg are a great example. They will be also a good carrier of other flavours and dressings, your 'base' for the salad. Crunchy sunflower or pumpkin seeds, any nuts, usually best when toasted but be careful as e.g overly charred pine nuts are not so good. You can even go a step further and prepare a massive batch of caramelised nuts like in my curried cashews recipe or rosemary walnuts. So you got crisp, crunch and now you want something more mushy with a bite to it - roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes - they will also deliver a different kind of experience and that is exactly what you are looking for. Cause dining is about being adventurous, mixing stuff on your plate, play with the ingredients and getting every single time a different mouthfeel to the one before. You want to be surprised and discover food as you haven't before!
Well, now to the recipe for the actual salad :- p
Recipe (makes 4 portions)
- 12 wild garlic leaves, washed and pat dry
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 slices of bread crust, cut into an inch size cubes
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 300g mushrooms, halved
- 220g cherry tomatoes, whole
- 1 1/2 tbsp sea salt flakes like Maldon, Falksalt etc.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250g asparagus, trimmed and cut in half of its length
- 6 Yaycon rashers, sliced
- 80g of rocket leaves
- 1/3 iceberg lettuce, cut into an inch size squares
- 4 tbsp basil pesto
- herbed or plain vegan mayo (optional). Also can be substituted with vegan yoghurt
- balsamic vinegar reduction (I use Belazu brand. It is quite expensive to buy upfront as it costs around £13 but it goes a long way so its running costs are low and it is very convenient to have at hand
Tip: 1tbsp (15ml) = 3 tsp (5ml) of any ingredient.
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan assisted
2. Mix wild garlic with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp lemon juice
3. Place on a non stick roasting tray and straight on the middle/bottom shelf in the oven when hot. I recommend using baking paper as it will absorb any excess oil. Cook until crisp which should take around 20-30 minutes depending on the oven
4. In the meantime mix bread pieces with tarragon, garlic mince, 1 tbsp of olive oil and the rest of the lemon juice. You can place it now in the oven, preferably on the top shelf. The reason for that is as the bread will steam during this dehydration process it won't be absorbed by the wild garlic.
5. Now massage tomatoes then mushrooms with the rest of the oil (1/2 tbsp) and salt. Place on the roasting and wait until your crisps and croutons are ready or place on the top shelf as soon as one of them is ready. Roast them for 20-30 minutes in 200°C/180°C fan. Add Yaycon pieces to the tray or use separate one for the last 10 minutes of cooking
6. Steam the asparagus - prepare your tier steamer a sauce pan filled half way with boiling water and place a colander with asparagus in it. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until just tender and cool down in an ice cold water (you can leave this for the very last moment just before plating your salad and serve it hot that way)
7. Mix lettuce and pesto together.
8. Prepare 4 bowls and fill them up with iceberg lettuce. Next rocket leaves on top of it.
9. Now, arrange the rest the way you feel it will present the best. Think about creating colour contrasts placing some of the ingredients in a pile and some sprinkle all around the bowl.
8. Scoop mayo/yoghurt on the top of the asparagus, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and wild garlic crisps proudly placed to stand in the middle of the bowl.
9. You can finish the dish with toasted seeds or nuts you have lying around of your house. It's never gonna be a miss!