By this time of the year the first salads of the season should well and truly have been pulled and the second lot or subsequent sowing already developing along nicely. No better time then for the salad books to hit the shelves, although this particular ‘gem’ maintains it has a salad for every season.
Written by television chef Harry Eastwood – despite the rather masculine name, she is a woman in case you are wondering – who first came to prominence co-presenting the Channel 4’s series Cook Yourself Thin, before bringing the programme to America. Having already penned two previous books – Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache and The Skinny French Kitchen – this, her third, is to be quickly followed by a fourth which she is currently writing in Paris.
With a flair for the French way of life, having French as a second language, she is also a frequent presenter on France 2’s daytime television show C’est Au Programme. In her introduction she reminisces about growing up in France hankering over of all things, “white plastic bread and iceberg lettuce”, and ‘favourites’ she ate while on holidays in England, the experience of which has given her a life-long love of the lettuce in particular.
She also outlines her cooking philosophy - “My only rule when cooking is to make food that excites” - as well as discussing the seasonality of food and the importance of getting the dressing right, among other considerations. With a short section on the various lettuce leaves you can expect to get throughout the seasons, along with pictures of each, the recipes begin and are divided into the seasons.
The best of the recipes include those for asparagus, gnocchetti, and prosciutto with lemon and crème fraîche dressing; avocado, dandelion and devilled seeds; grilled avocado and cherry tomato with lime and coriander; hot smoked salmon, edamame and cucumber with a wasabi cream dressing; iceberg wedge with blue cheese and bacon; ploughman’s salad; soft-shell crab with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce; spring leaves and edible flowers; coronation chicken with cos lettuce and mango; Thai beef and basil with glass noodles; scallops, asparagus and spinach with rosemary-roasted new potatoes and saffron aioli; goat’s cheese and honey parcels with green beans; lamb and saffron koftas and sautéed aubergine with a mint and yoghurt dressing; peach and mozzarella with sweet chilli and tomato glaze; classic Cobb salad; roasted squash with thyme and taleggio; southern salad with root beer brisket; Waldorf salad; and Florence Nightingale falafel salad.
Overall, a fine example of an imaginative cookery book devoted to salads by someone who knows her watercress from her pak choi, and one well worth the investment.