Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Salad of the Summer

We have seen a few sunrises here lately.  There's been some early starts, especially with the recent hot weather.  It really is the best part of the day.
Since my last post, which seems like eternity ago, there has been plenty of activity.  
On a trip to the outback we learnt how to open a wine bottle with a boot:
and how not to...
We kayaked down the Lachlan
and sat around the campfire.
The kids came home from school and the horses came in to be worked, so this is what the back door looks like at lunch time..
We've been shearing and selling lambs, getting loads of cattle in on agistment, droving sheep up the road and trying to squeeze in Christmas and a bit of beach time.

According to the kids, December and January have been less of a holiday and more of and enforced boot camp.  But do not despair, there has been fun too.  We got a new puppy....Holly, because she arrived just before Christmas:

 There was some beach time 
And some lake time..
The two lovely German girls who are looking after the horses taught us how to make German Christmas biscuits:
I picked these beautiful apricots...
and made jam:
The strawberries have been wonderful...
But the best thing of all has been the salad of the summer.  I seem to do this every year, have a staple salad that I can't get enough of.  Usually it involves tomatoes, basil or zucchini due to an over abundance from the vegetable garden, but my tomatoes seem to be taking forever and the zucchinis have only just started.  This year I take my inspiration from Matt Preston's book Fast, Fresh and Unbelievably Delicious and a salad that he made for Marco Pierre White when he was out here last year.  I LOVED it and it it went so well with the cumin scented slow cooked lamb, couscous and roasted carrot salad that Matt served with it, so I was delighted to see it in the book.  I've made a couple of slight changes.

THE SALAD OF THE SUMMER Thanks to Matt.  Serves 6-8

2 long English cucumbers, peeled and seeded and diced
4 sticks of celery, diced
12 pitted dates, diced
24 green olives (black olives will work too), pitted and chopped into quarters
1 pomegranate (Matt says this is optional but it really makes the salad)
1 bunch coriander (to taste)
1 bunch  mint (also to taste, I like plenty)
1 cup shelled pistachios
Approx 1/3 cup olive oil
1 dessp pomegranate molasses 
salt and pepper

Combine the cucumbers, celery, dates and olives in a bowl.  Chop the coriander and mint and add to taste.  Cut the pomegranate in half and hold the flat side on the flat of your hand over a bowl and bash the outside with a wooden spoon to get out the seeds.  Pick out any pith and keep any juice left over to add to the dressing. Add seeds to the salad.  Roughly chop pistachios and add them too.

Combine dressing ingredients and any pomegranate juice and adjust to suit your taste.  Mix it all together and serve on a platter or in a nice salad bowl.

I have made this countless times this summer as it is so forgiving.  You can chop everything up and stick it in the fridge for a few hours and add the dressing at the end.  It can handle being shoved in an esky and taken to a picnic (though you do need forks or spoons to eat it).  It is even better the next day, which tells me you can dress it ahead of time without doing too much damage.