I’m known for eating salads in the middle of winter, even after a day ice-climbing on the “Ben” or a snowy ski day;  normally, nothing crushes my enthusiasm for a gorgeous bowl of salad!  But, this spell of hot weather has tested my resourcefulness.  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve arrived at the salad aisle recently, only to find that the solitary remaining bag of salad leaves has already expired and other salad items are “on order”, meaning they are still miles down the M6!  So I’ve set about creating salads from other vegetables.  These creations are still mainly raw but I do lightly steam tender-stem and blanch asparagus.  Vegetables such as mooli, white turnip, cabbage and fennel are all delicious raw, especially when sliced very finely using a mandolin. For days when you can’t get salad leaves, for “love nor money”, then spiralize a courgette and use handfuls of parsley or Greek basil instead!

Salad Ingredients:

200g pkt. tender-stem broccoli

100g pkt. fine asparagus

1 small bulb fennel

Handful olives

Handful edamame beans

Greek basil

Pecorino shavings (optional)

Dressing Ingredients:

Large handful of Greek basil

4 tbsps. avocado oil

1 tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsps. capers

½ tsp. runny honey

Sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper

First make the dressing; whizz the basil leaves in a blender or chop with a mezzaluna until you have a green pulp.  Add the oil to the leaves gradually, continue to blend whilst adding the oil.  Then add all remaining ingredients, in the order listed, and blend well until you have a smooth glossy dressing.  Chill until you are ready to use it.

Steam the broccoli for 2 minutes or until just tender and then rinse with cold water and drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess moisture.  Blanch the asparagus stems by placing in a tall mug and filling with just boiled water.  Aim to cover most of the stem but leave the tips out of the water.  Then prepare the fennel.  I use a mandolin to get wafer thin slices but if you don’t have one then use a sharp knife with a steady a hand!

To assemble the salad, arrange the broccoli and asparagus between two plates and then scatter with the fennel, olives, edamame beans and basil.  Just before serving, drizzle with the dressing and grind a little black pepper over the top before scattering with shavings of pecorino (if using).