- Food & Drink
Yes, still talking about the supper club. Still living on past glories, as the year creeps towards its end and I get reflective on long, dark nights.
We served a mix of salads at the start of the supper club, because it’s very important that people eat their vegetables. Plus, we could get them prepped earlier in the day and tumble them with their dressing just before serving.
It’s a good time of year for salads. People imagine that summer is a good time for fruit and veg, but that’s actually a good time for growing rather than eating. September is a fat month for eating. Tomatoes are especially good, sweet with sunshine and barely needing more than a gloss of oil and a drizzle of something sharp. Naomi ordered us some boxes of heritage tomatoes from Franklins. Bright, multicoloured beauties that we tossed with a hot, funky nuoc cham dressing.
I wanted to do a green salad. I originally thought of doing a lettuce salad with peas and beans and radishes and shallots and bells and whistles. Fortunately, common sense took control of the wheel and we settled for serving crisp little gem lettuce leaves dunked in a buttermilk Caesar dressing. The secret to the dressing is not the buttermilk, or the roast garlic, or even the fishy anchovies. It’s making your own mayonnaise. Yeah, I know. But it’s easy and you will be glad you did it.
Our final salad was Naomi’s idea: thin slices of beetroot topped with a sugary walnut brittle, spoonfuls of creamy labneh and a generous scattering of the herb everyone loves to hate, dill. We had planned to do a mix of roast and raw beetroot, but when we learned the restaurant kitchen didn’t have an oven, we backed away from that idea sharpish.
All of these salads serve 4, either as a starter or as a side. Do all three together and you’ll have a substantial light meal, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms (I think it probably is). And there’s still time to make a meal of them this year. When the sun is still warm, it’s still a salad day.
Heritage Tomato Salad with Nuoc Cham
600g heritage tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 fat garlic clove
Pinch of sea salt
1 bird’s eye chilli
Slice the larger tomatoes into wedges, quarter the medium sized ones and halve any cherry tomatoes. Pile them up in a bowl.
Juice the lime into a bowl. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar. Give it a good stir to dissolve the sugar.
Peel and crush the garlic clove with a pinch of sea salt till it’s smooth. Add to the bowl.
Halve the chilli. Scrape out the seeds. Finely chop the chilli so it’s minced (wear gloves). Add to the bowl.
Give the dressing a good stir. Spoon over the tomatoes. Serve straight away.
Lettuce with Buttermilk Caesar Dressing
2 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground pepper
12g hard cheese, like Parmesan or pecorino
A handful of chives chives
3 little gem lettuces
Heat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Wrap the garlic clove sin foil and roast for 30 minutes in the oven till soft.
Pop the garlic out of their skins. Mash with a small pinch of salt. Finely chop the anchovy fillets, then mush them with the back of a fork to a paste. Put the garlic and anchovy paste in a bowl.
Pour the buttermilk, mayo, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce into the bowl. Stir well till everything is combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Coarsely grate the cheese. Finely chop the chives.
Separate the lettuce leaves. Wash and dry them. Put the lettuce in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing. Toss to mix. Add half the cheese and chives and mix some more. Pile up on a salad plate. Scatter with the last of the cheese and chives to serve.
Beetroot, Labneh & Honey Roast Walnuts
65g walnut halves
1 tsp butter
15g + 2 tsp honey
A pinch of cayenne pepper
11/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic or sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
A big handful of dill
Scrub the beetroot and put them in a medium pan. Pour in enough cold water to cover them. Pop on a lid, place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 40 mins till the beetroot is tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain the beetroot and leave it to cool.
While the beetroot boils, heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or oil it. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the walnuts. Cook and stir over a medium heat for 2 mins. Stir in 30g honey with a small pinch of cayenne and a good pinch of salt.
Spoon the nuts onto the baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10 mins, till dark brown. Cool for 5-10 mins, then roughly chop.
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and 2 tsp honey together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roughly chop the dill fronds.
Peel the beetroot and very finely slice it. Arrange the beetroot slices on a serving platter. Drizzle over the dressing. Scatter over the walnuts. Drop on teaspoonfuls of the labneh. Scatter with the dill to serve.