Slater's salads

A simple salad, such as citrus fruit and watercress, green leaves and toasted walnuts or soft, nutty grains and herbs always seems to get a welcome. Simple salads, with just a handful of ingredients flatter the food they follow or accompany so much more than something convoluted. They are not the stars and shouldn't try steal the limelight. That said, sometimes they just do. As someone who makes a salad every day of their life (even if it is sometimes little more than lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice) I find them supremely relaxing to make. It is something I like to take my time over, choosing the most perfect leaves and quietly making a dressing to go with them.

Salad of oranges and watercress

It is difficult to think of a salad that is more refreshing than citrus fruit and hot green leaves. I sometimes use rocket and grapefruit or mustard greens and pink grapefruit, but the minute the sun shines I think of watercress, both in sandwiches and salads.

Serves 2 as side salad

oranges - 2 large ones
a pomegranate
seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, flax - 3 tbs
alph-alpha or radish sprouts
watercress - 5 large handfuls

For the dressing:

lemon juice - 2 tbs
walnut oil - 2 tbs
olive oil - 2 tbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the oranges, taking care to remove every bit of white pith. Leaving it on will just make the salad look careless. Slice the peeled orange into thin rounds, about six or eight slices per orange. Put them in a bowl.

Break open the pomegranate and remove the seeds, carefully discarding all the bitter white pith. Toast the seeds in a dry, non-stick pan. Add the seeds to the orange. Rinse and dry the sprouts and add to the orange with the watercress leaves and their fine stems. Make the dressing: mix the lemon juice and oils with little salt and black pepper. Toss with the salad.

Tomato, quinoa, chilli, lime and avocado

This is a good salad to accompany lightly grilled vegetables.

Serves 2 or 3, as side salad

quinoa - 100g
parsley - a good handful
coriander - 2 handfuls
cherry (red or yellow) tomatoes - 400g
avocados - 2 small, ripe

For the dressing:

a lime
a small clove of garlic
extra virgin olive oil - 3 tablespoons

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Salt it lightly then add the quinoa. Turn down to an enthusiastic simmer, and leave for about 15 minutes, until it is tender but still has a little bite to it. Drain in a sieve and then cool under running water.

While the quinoa is cooking prepare the rest of the ingredients. Roughly chop the parsley, peel and stone the avocados and slice them thickly. Halve the cherry tomatoes, and add them to the parsley, coriander and the avocado.

Make the dressing: squeeze the lime into a small bowl, add the sea salt, black pepper and the crushed clove of garlic. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking lightly. Toss the dressing lightly with the salad.

Lentils with mint

A wonderfully useful salad that to my mind goes with pretty much anything you care to throw at it.

Serves 2 as a side dish

le puy lentils - 225g
a bay leaf or two
mint leaves - 2 handfuls

For the dressing:

lemon juice - 2 tbs
extra virgin olive oil - 6 tbs

Cook the lentils in boiling water, salting them lightly towards the end of cooking. Depending on their age they should take about 15-20 minutes. They are done when they are tender but still retain some bite. Drain them.

While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing (you want to dress the lentils whilst they are still warm.) Mix together the lemon juice, oil and a good pinch of salt (be generous with the salt) and a grinding of black pepper. When the lentils are drained, toss them with the mint leaves, whole or torn up a little, and the dressing.

Spring leaves and toasted walnuts

Sometimes, you just cannot beat a simple green salad with masses of spankingly fresh leaves and a mild, nutty dressing.

Serves 4 as a side salad

8 handfuls of salad leaves (butterhead lettuce, cos, oak leaf, frisée etc)
shelled walnut halves - 2 handfuls

For the dressing:

tarragon vinegar - 2 tsp
French mustard - 1 level tsp
sunflower oil -2 tbs
walnut oil - 3 tbs

Put the tarragon vinegar in a jar to which you have a tight fitting lid. Add the mustard, a grinding of salt and black pepper, then add the oils. Screw on the lid and shake hard to mix.

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Gently toss with some of the dressing. Don't over dress, each leaf should just be moist, no more.

Bulgur wheat and mango

The point here is the contrast of textures between the chewy, nutty bulgur wheat and the silkily ripe mango.

Serves 4 as a side dish

bulgur wheat - 100g
a large, lusciously ripe mango
juice of a lime
olive oil - 2 tbs
fresh mint leaves - a good handful
spring onions - 4

Soak the wheat in cold water for 15 minutes. Peel the mango over a bowl to save the rich, sweet juice, then remove the flesh from the stone with a small knife. Cut the flesh into small dice and put it in a mixing bowl. Put the lime juice and oil into a small bowl, season generously with salt and black pepper and mix lightly with a fork. Tear up the mint leaves and add these to the mango. Remove the greenest of the stems on the spring onions and discard, then chop the pale green and white flesh finely and add to the mint and mango.

Wring the water from the bulgur wheat with your hands and add it to the mango and mint. Pour over the lime juice and oil and toss gently.

Win an Abel & Cole box each month for six months

To celebrate the release of Richard Linklater's film Fast Food Nation, a satirical look at America's fast food industry based on Eric Schlosser's book (in cinemas from 4 May from Tartan Films), we're giving away six monthly organic veg boxes from Abel & Cole to one lucky reader. See www.fastfoodnationthemovie.co.uk and www.abel-cole.co.uk for more. To enter our prize draw send a postcard marked Fast Food to R.Seal, OFM, 3-7 Herbal Hill, London EC1R 5EJ by 18 May.

Terms and conditions

1. Send a postcard to R Seal , OFM, 3-7 Herbal Hill, London EC1R 5EJ

2. Closing date is 18 May

3. Prize is a monthly vegetable box from Abel and Cole, delivered for 6 months.

4. Winner will be drawn at random.

5. The promotion is open to residents of the U.K. aged 18 and over.

6. The promotion is not open to employees of Guardian Newspapers Limited or [partner], their agencies or anyone else connected with the creation or administration of the promotion.

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10. The winner will be notified by e-mail/phone on 21May. The winner is required to accept the prize within 2 days of notification. In the event of non-acceptance, GNL will re-draw and select a new winner (the same acceptance period will apply for the new winner).

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Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.