Back to basics

Back to basics

All-star salads

Nothing shouts summer like a vibrant salad full of seasonal ingredients. Our chef Dai shares his top tips on how to get it right every time

Panzanella  

This simple vegan take on an Italian classic delivers sunshine flavours in every mouthful

Serves 4 • Ready in 20 minutes 

DAI’S TIPS:
‘This Tuscan bread salad is a fantastic way to use up a loaf that‘s just past its best, and tomatoes that have hit peak ripeness. Don’t be afraid to go bold with your salad dressings and experiment with different vinegars — for example, the delicate sweetness of sherry vinegar would work really well with these Mediterranean flavours.‘ 

THE METHOD:

  • 200g Co-op Irresistible white sourdough bloomer, torn into bite-sized pieces 
  • 3 tbsp Co-op extra virgin olive oil
  • 160g cucumber, cubed
  • 420g pack Co-op Irresistible vine tomatoes, quartered
  • 225g pack Co-op Irresistible piccolo tomatoes, halved
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 25g pack basil, large leaves torn 
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the sourdough pieces on a baking tray and toss in 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Bake for 15 mins, until lightly golden, tossing halfway through.
  2. Put the cucumber in a bowl with the tomatoes and red onion, and season. Add half the basil leaves.
  3. To make the dressing, mix together the red wine vinegar and remaining olive oil. Toss the sourdough croutons through the salad, then drizzle with the dressing and serve topped with the remaining basil.

Salad niçoise

This well-known French salad is a delicious combination of fresh and storecupboard ingredients

Serves 4 • Ready in 30 minutes 

DAI‘S TIPS:
‘I like to keep the egg yolks for this dish slightly “jammy“, to add a bit of creaminess. It’s also best to halve the eggs, rather than quartering, so the yolks stay intact. To add more texture, try tearing the lettuce leaves, instead of slicing them. And if your leaves are looking on the tired side, dunk them in ice water for two minutes to bring them back to life, then pat them dry before using.‘

THE METHOD: 

  • 300g Co-op baby potatoes, halved
  • 170g pack Co-op fine beans
  • 4 Co-op British free range eggs 
  • 30ml Co-op extra virgin olive oil
  • 30ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ tsp Co-op wholegrain mustard
  • 75g drained Co-op pitted black hojiblanca olives in brine
  • 420g pack Co-op Irresistible vine tomatoes, cut into wedges 
  • 1 Co-op little gem lettuce, sliced
  • 2 x 110g cans tuna steak in spring water, drained 
  1. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 8 mins. Add the fine beans and cook for a further 7 mins, then drain and leave to cool.
  2. While the potatoes and beans are cooking, bring another pan of water to the boil and add the eggs. Boil for 6½ mins for jammy eggs, or 9 mins for completely hard-boiled. Put the eggs in a bowl of iced water until cool enough to handle, then peel and halve.
  3. To make the dressing, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Put the potatoes, green beans, black olives, tomatoes and lettuce in a large bowl, add most of the dressing and toss together.
  4. Transfer the salad to a serving plate. Top with the halved eggs, flake over the tuna and drizzle with the remaining dressing to serve.

Greek-style salad

Refreshing and easy to throw together, here‘s your ultimate summer side for BBQ season

Serves 4 • Ready in 15 mins  

DAI‘S TIPS:
‘You can add bags of flavour to your salads by making use of the liquid that an ingredient comes in — like the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes, for example. For this Greek salad, try adding the brine from the Feta to your dressing for a tangy kick. I’m also a big fan of toppings to give that bit of extra texture — a sprinkle of toasted summer squash seeds would add a nice finishing touch here.‘

THE METHOD: 

  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and cubed
  • 420g pack Co-op Irresistible vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 100g drained Co-op pitted black hojiblanca olives in brine
  • 100g Co-op Greek Feta cheese, roughly crumbled 
  • 75ml Co-op extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley 
  1. Put the red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives and Feta into a large bowl.
  2. Make the salad dressing by shaking the olive oil, vinegar and oregano in a jam jar.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and toss gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with the parsley and plenty of black pepper.

Waldorf salad

Add some crunch to your lunch with this moreish favourite that works as a main or a side

Serves 4 • Ready in 15 minutes  

DAI‘S TIPS:
‘Low-fat yogurt is a great alternative to mayo if you want a creamy dressing without the calories. Build flavour with mustard and lemon juice, or spice things up with sweet chilli sauce or sriracha. If there are any leaves on your celery sticks, reserve them to use as a garnish.’

THE METHOD: 

  • 50g Co-op walnuts, roughly broken
  • 200ml Co-op 0% fat Greek style natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp Co-op Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 110g Co-op red seedless grapes, halved 
  • 1 Co-op Braeburn apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 Co-op little gem lettuces
  • 1 Co-op sweet pointed pepper, chopped 
  1. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan until golden, then set aside.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, mustard and lemon juice to make a dressing. Season to taste, then fold through the grapes, apple and celery.
  3. Divide the little gem leaves between four plates, then top with the dressed grapes, apple and celery. Scatter with the chopped pepper and toasted walnuts to serve.

‘A salad is much more than leafy greens, though these are lovely in their own right. It‘s a fantastic chance to play with temperatures and textures — and there‘s no better time to do that than now. Summer offers so many opportunities to take salads to the next level, be it the first crop of Jersey Royals or the peppery crunch of a British radish. So show your plate a little sunshine with the recipes on these pages — they‘re quick, easy and a great way to use up leftover fresh produce.‘ Dai Llewellyn, Co-op executive innovation chef