Three great salads that can be eaten as a light meal or as a side to your protein.
Rainbow chard with tomatoes and green olives
This summery side dish really benefits from using top-quality ripe tomatoes. If you can’t find rainbow chard, use swiss chard instead and cut the stalks a little smaller. This is great served warm, but it also sits well for serving at room temperature.
Prep 25 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4 as a side
400g rainbow chard, bases trimmed, leaves and stalks separated and each cut into 6cm-long pieces
125ml olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (110g net weight)
1 lemon – skin pared off in 2 strips, then juiced, to get 1 tbsp
2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
300g ripe plum tomatoes (ie, about 2-3), cut into 1cm dice
Salt and pepper
120g nocellara (or other green) olives, pitted and halved (or quartered if large)
1 tbsp (5g) basil leaves, roughly torn
Cut any wider chard stalks in half lengthways (or three times, if they are especially wide). Put a large saute pan on a medium-high heat with a teaspoon of oil, add the chard stalks and saute, stirring occasionally, for four minutes. Stir in the leaves and saute for another three minutes, until just wilted and cooked. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with a plate, leave for three minutes to soften further in the residual heat, then remove the plate.
Wipe clean the chard pan, pour in 90ml oil and return to a medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic, onion, lemon peel and oregano, and fry gently, stirring often, for 12 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden. Add the tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for about two minutes (or a couple of minutes longer if the tomatoes are not that ripe), until the tomatoes are just beginning to soften. Stir in the cooked chard and the olives, turn off the heat and leave to sit for five minutes, so the flavours come together. Pick out and discard the spent oregano stalks and lemon peel, then transfer the chard and tomatoes to a lipped platter. Drizzle over the lemon juice and the remaining two tablespoons of oil, finish with a scattering of the torn basil leaves and a good grind of pepper, and serve.
Braised green beans with tomato, cardamom and garlic
Braised green beans in tomato sauce are eaten throughout the Middle East, cooked with or without meat, and usually eaten with rice. Cooking down the beans in this way means they lose that bright green hue, but it does make them wonderfully soft and comforting. Omit the chilli for a more child-friendly version, if you prefer.
Prep 15 min
Cook 55 min
Serves 4 as a side
150g datterini (or cherry) tomatoes
550g vine tomatoes (ie, about 4-5), roughly chopped
120ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced (180g net weight)
10 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
8 cardamom pods, lightly bashed open in a mortar or with the flat of a knife
1½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli flakes
Salt and black pepper
450g green beans, trimmed and cut in half at an angle
4 tbsp (15g) roughly chopped coriander, plus extra picked leaves to serve
Put a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Once very hot, add the datterini tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until well charred all over. Transfer to a bowl and leave the pan to cool down slightly.
Meanwhile, put the chopped vine tomatoes in a food processor, blitz to a puree, and set aside.
Return the now-empty tomato pan to a medium-high heat, add five tablespoons of oil and, once hot, stir in the onion and cook, stirring from time to time, for about six minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add two thirds of the garlic and all the cardamom, cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes, until the garlic has taken on some colour. Add the spices, cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant, then stir in the blitzed tomatoes, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for seven minutes, until thickened. Add 250ml water and cook for eight minutes more, until incorporated.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the beans, cover the pan, and leave to cook for 12 minutes. Give everything a stir, add the charred tomatoes, then replace the lid and cook for eight minutes more, until the beans are nice and soft, then stir through the chopped coriander.
Meanwhile, put the remaining three tablespoons of oil and the remaining sliced garlic in a small frying pan, put it on a medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about eight minutes. When the garlic is golden and crisp, turn off the heat.
Transfer the beans and tomatoes to a large shallow bowl and top with the picked coriander. Spoon over the fried garlic and its oil, and serve at room temperature.
Broad bean and herb salad with toum
Toum is Levantine sauce made by whipping raw garlic and oil. It’s so garlicky that here I’ve blanched half the cloves to take off the edge very slightly. These quantities will make double the amount of toum than you you need here: keep the rest in a sealed jar in the fridge, where it will keep quite happily for up to a week – it goes really well with grilled vegetables or meat, particularly rich and fatty cuts.
Prep 25 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4 as a side
1 large lemon
350g frozen baby broad beans, defrosted and outer skins removed
2 heads little baby gem lettuce, core removed and leaves separated
10g picked tarragon leaves (ie, from one small bunch)
10g picked mint leaves (ie, from one small bunch)
10g picked dill leaves (ie, from one small bunch)
3 tbsp olive oil
For the toum
90g garlic cloves (about 2 whole heads), separated and peeled
3½ tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
230ml sunflower oil, or other neutral oil
1 tbsp ice-cold water
Make the toum first. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add half the garlic cloves and blanch them for 45 seconds: you don’t want them to soften, just to take off their “garlicky” edge. Drain, run under cold water to stop them cooking further, then pat dry. Cut the unblanched cloves in half lengthways and remove and discard the white inner core.
Transfer the cored cloves and the blanched cloves to a food processor bowl, add a quarter-teaspoon of salt and two and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, blitz for about three minutes, until very smooth and aerated, stopping to scrape down the bowl a couple times. With the motor still running, very slowly drizzle in a third of the oil, followed by the ice-cold water. Repeat with another third of the oil, then add the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Finally, drizzle in and process the last third of the oil. You should be left with a white, fluffy and homogenised mixture. Set aside half the mixture and refrigerate the rest.
Segment the lemon by using a small, sharp knife to top and tail it. Cut down around its curves to remove the skin and white pith, then release the segments by cutting between the membranes. Roughly chop the segments into three or four pieces, put them in a large bowl, then squeeze the juice from what’s left of the membrane into the bowl (you want about a teaspoon of juice in all). Add the broad beans, lettuce, herbs, two tablespoons of olive oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and toss to combine.
Spread the toum over the base of a large platter, then set the salad slightly to one side. Drizzle all over with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and serve at room temperature.