It's always such a joy to cook with spring ingredients when they start to make a re-appearance after the hungry gap. All that green just seems so fresh and healthy after the more stodgy winter veg. I was inspired to create this salad partly by 101 Cookbooks and also partly by the Daylesford Organic cooking class which I attended as part of the Edible Window Box evening seminar at Clifton Nurseries recently. We had the fabulous Anjana and Nic over for dinner and I decided to serve something very simple which would suit the hot weather.
Mixed baby salad leaves
1 head of red chicory
purple radish sprouts
Jersey Royal new potatoes
white balsamic vinegar
juice of half a lemon
Pre-heat the oven. Scrub the new potatoes but do not peel them. Place them in boiling water and cook for around 10 mins until they are partially cooked but not completely. Place them in the oven with a generous splash of olive oil and roast for 30 mins or until becoming brown and crispy on the outside.
Thinly slice the fennel and marinate for a while in some of the white balsamic vinegar to soften.
Poach the quails eggs in boiling water for a couple of minutes until done. Boil the shelled broad beans, whilst these are cooking in boiling water, steam the asparagus and French beans in bamboo steamers on top of the saucepan for a couple of minutes. When both are steamed to al dente, remove from the steamers and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. When the broad beans are cooked, remove the rough outer casing leaving only the bright green bean inside.
Prepare the salad by placing the mixed salad leaves, chicory, radish sprouts and spring onions in a bowl. Mix well and scatter the cooked new potatoes, fennel, beans and asparagus on top. Place the poached quails eggs on top of this and serve dressed in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and black pepper.
I served this with a simple cod fillet in a pumpkin seed crust. This recipe is a great way to do cod and was taken from my Abel & Cole cookbook - mix a handful of pumpkin seeds, some wholegrain breadcrumbs and some lemon zest in your food processor or dry mill. Add some finely chopped flat leaf parsley and pulse some more. Add a tiny splash of olive oil until the mixture 'catches' but is not too soggy and then spread evenly over cod fillets. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.