It's time for salad days

Salads are the stars of summer and nowadays there's a combination to suit every taste. We pick out two that are bursting with fresh, seasonal ingredients and are a world away from limp leaves and curly cucumber.

Salads are the stars of summer and nowadays there's a combination of flavours to suit every taste. Gone are the days when key ingredients were simply lettuce and sliced tomato - now we have access to interesting ingredients from around the world and are just as willing to use noodles as a crisp lettuce as the basis for the dish.

Salads have even bigger plate appeal as we increasingly watch our waistlines, count our calories and check our cholesterol.

Going green is easy if you use Super Salads, a compact recipe guide to the meal, which demonstrates that this versatile dish can include a host of unexpected ingredients from duck and pheasant, to razor clams and roast lamb.

Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Thai and British influences vie for attention, but the recipes are clearly organised into chapters by their main ingredients for easy selection.

If you're worried about making dressings and your own mayonnaise, there are fuss-free methods to ensure you don't ruin your carefully created dish with globby, gloopy shop-bought concoctions.

We've picked out two salads that are a world away from limp leaves and curly cucumber.

Seared steak, mango and radish salad
(Serves 2)

2 x 150g sirloin steaks
1 tbsp vegetable oil
150g radishes
1 ripe mango
130g herb leaf salad
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the French dressing
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 tsp mild mustard (such as wholegrain or Dijon)A small pinch of sugar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim and discard the fat from the sirloin steaks, then season and cut into thin strips. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the beef, in batches, and stir-fry for a few minutes until the meat is browned. Set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper to cool slightly.

Slice the radishes; peel, stone and slice the mango. Put both into a large bowl and mix gently together. Add the beef and the salad leaves.

Season, drizzle with French dressing and gently toss to serve.

To make the dressing:

Put the white-wine vinegar, mustard, sugar and some seasoning into a large bowl. Whisk until well emulsified.

Add the extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the time, until cloudy and slightly thickened.

Moroccan chicken and potato salad
This makes a wonderful al fresco lunch and is great for a barbecue.

(Serves 6)

750g waxy new potatoes
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
120g spring onions, chopped
1tsp Spanish smoked paprika
4 large chicken breasts, skins removed and cut into wide strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes, until just tender. Drain well and quarter each potato. Put into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, four tablespoons of oil, the mint and chillies. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes then leave to cool. Stir in the spring onions.

Mix the remaining oil with the paprika. Add the chicken and mix well. Preheat the grill. Lay out the chicken on a foil-lined tray and cook under the grill for eight to 10 minutes, turning once. Toss the chicken with the potato salad and serve.


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