This is one of those great hybrid dishes that’s both a super fresh salad and a substantial main course. BOBW (best of both worlds). It’s very much inspired by some of the salads that you find at places like Babbington and Soho House, and a million miles from the lame “side salads” that I grew up with. This recipe was based around what I had in the cupboard, and like with all cooking it’s suitable for improvisation around what you have in the fridge and what you fancy. I started out with spelt, but it’d work with cous cous, buckwheat or bulgar wheat, plus some roasted chicken breast left over from a previous day, some mange tout (ditto) and some feta and mozzarella that needed using up. It’d be easy to have a meat free version.
Ingredients (for 2 large portions)
Cup of spelt (or other grain) – cooked with two cups of stock, a teaspoon of olive oil and a bay leaf for 20 minutes then drained, covered, and left to cool – you ideally want it slightly warm rather than hot or cold.
Handful of mange tout (I had half a packed left over) and a handful of petit pois – blanched (covered with cold water, brought to the boil, then drained and rinsed with cold water)
Half a packet of feta, crumbled
Half a ball of buffalo mozzarella, chopped
Handful of chopped mixed olives
Some chopped sun dried tomatoes plus a teaspoon of the tomatoey oil from the packet (if you have SDT’s in oil)
Fresh mint, basil and flat leaf parsley – coarsely chopped
Juice of a whole lemon
Big glug of olive oil
Mixed salad leaves
Other salad ingredients as you see fit – cucumber, radish, pepper, spring onions.
Mixture of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds – pan toasted in a dry frying pan until the seeds pop
Sliced chicken breast
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
This is a pretty straightforward assembly job. I roughly mixed all of the above apart from the salad leaves, chicken and toasted seeds. There’s lots of flavour in the fresh herbs, the olive oil and lemon which combine to make a great dressing. The slightly warm spelt also soaks up the flavour.
Spread the leaves out on the plates or bowls, top with the salad mix, then top with the seeds, then top with the optional sliced chicken. A squeeze of fresh lemon and a drizzle of olive oil goes down well, as do a few reserved fresh herbs for an Instagram friendly photo finish!