Recipe for Crisp Salad with Olive Tapenade, beetroot and hard-boiled egg.

1 large cos lettuce
a variety of mixed salad leaves
1 small bunch rocket
1ml (1/4 teaspoon) sugar
1 hard-boiled egg
vegetable oil, for brushing the baking tray
2 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into small cubes
2 beetroot, cooked whole and peeled
1 small red onion, finely sliced
30ml (2 tablespoons) olive tapenade (see Cook’s Notes)
30ml (2 tablespoons) apple cider vinegar
30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
sea salt and milled black pepper

How to
Rinse the leaves thoroughly and spin dry. Place in a large bowl. Add a light trace of sugar. Quarter the hard-boiled egg and add to the salad.

To make croutons, brush a baking tray with vegetable oil. Heat in the oven set at 180 C. Add the bread cubes and bake until golden brown, turning once.

Slice the beetroots into rounds. Stack the slices and slice once again. Add them to the salad together with the sliced onion. Cover lightly with wax wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, dot the salad with tapenade, sprinkle with apple cider vinegar, then with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with croutons.

Cook’s Notes

* You’ll need: chopping board, cook’s knife, salad spinner, large bowl, olive stoner, serving platter, frying pan, blender, wax paper, baking tray.

* Cos lettuce, known as romaine lettuce in America, has dark green, oval leaves with a crisp, pale green, slightly bitter heart. It’s traditionally used in Caesar salads. When cos is not available use another variety such as iceberg, but add a few frilly green and red leaves for variation.

* Tear salad leaves rather than cut or shred them, then drop into a bowl of cold water to soak thoroughly before their final rinse. Then spin dry.

* There are rubbery, discoloured hard-boiled eggs and those that are perfectly cooked! Cover eggs with cold water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 10 to 12 minutes in the water. Place in cold water, crack lightly, then shell them.

* To ring the changes, add lightly cooked green beans, baby spinach and crisp slices of smoked beef or fine slices of smoked salmon to the salad.

* There are two rules for making a perfect salad: one is to serve it crisp and lightly chilled, not warm and limp. The other is to make your own dressing. Use gentle apple cider vinegar or good quality wine vinegar. Balsamic can be harsh, so use it sparingly.

* Grow a few fresh herbs to add to your salad, such as basil, chives, French tarragon, wile fennel and dill. Finely chopped borage has the flavour of crushed cucumber. Rinse and shake the herbs dry and scatter onto the salad just before serving.

* Olive tapenade: Stone 500ml (2 cups) calamata olives; gently press down on the top of each with the flat blade of a knife, then remove the pip or use a stoner. (Don’t use pre-stoned olives as they will have absorbed too much harsh vinegar.) Place the olives in a blender and add about 30ml (2 tablespoons) good olive oil, a dash of sea salt, milled black pepper and 2 cloves of peeled garlic (the garlic is optional). Blend until creamy. Put the tapenade into a sterile glass jar and refrigerate it. It can be stored for a couple of weeks, but we promise that it will be eaten long before then!

Recipe from Fresh & Healthy, Step-by-Step to Life by Annette Kesler (Lannice Snyman Publishers).
Photopgraph by Franz Lauinger

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