Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer salads – recipes | Food

Whenever I hear the word “salad”, I always think chopped salad. Specifically, the kind I had almost every day while growing up, which was based on two much-loved ingredients: tomato and cucumber.

What makes them (together or apart) the building blocks of just about all summer salads across the eastern Mediterranean is that, at their best, they require nothing but a splash of olive oil to give a concentrated dose of freshness.

They also meld exceptionally well with other ingredients – from nutty freekeh and cooling yoghurt to creamy tahini – to make some seriously complex dishes for any sunny meal.

Tomato salad with lime and cardamom yoghurt (pictured above)

Properly ripe, wonderfully sweet tomatoes should simply be put on a pedestal and left to be enjoyed and admired. The second-best thing you can do with them is to make a salad. This one combines sweet, sour and salty notes, and is best served with warm bread to scoop up the tomatoes and soak up their juices.

Prep 15 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 4 as a side

70g Greek-style yoghurt
50g soft, rindless goat’s cheese
½ small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Salt
1-2 limes – zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
15 cardamom pods, shells discarded and seeds finely crushed in a mortar
1 large green chilli, finely chopped (pith and seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
500g ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes, halved (or any other great tomatoes you can get)
1 large banana shallot, peeled and finely sliced
60ml olive oil
10g mint leaves, roughly torn

Mix the yoghurt, goat’s cheese, garlic and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add half the lime zest, half the cardamom and half the chilli, and stir to combine. Set aside an eighth of a teaspoon of the remaining crushed cardamom, to serve.

In a second bowl, mix the tomatoes, shallot, lime juice, two tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon of salt with the remaining lime zest, cardamom and chilli. Add the yoghurt mixture and most of the mint, and stir gently, but not too much – you want still to be able to see the red of the tomatoes and green of the mint in parts.

Transfer to a platter, drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil, finish with the remaining mint and cardamom, and serve.

Freekeh tabbouleh





Freekeh Tabbouleh



Freekeh Tabbouleh Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay

This non-traditional tabbouleh has a higher proportion of grain to herbs than normal and uses freekeh instead of bulgur; these adaptations make it heartier and more substantial.

By all means use bulgur, if you prefer, but if you do go with freekeh, use the cracked kind, rather than the wholegrain variety, which takes much longer to cook.

To get ahead, cook the freekeh up to a day ahead, but assemble the salad only just before serving. I like this with roast chicken or grilled halloumi, but it can also form part of a meze spread.

Prep 15 min
Cook 35 min
Cool 30 min
Serves 4 as a side

75ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
150g cracked freekeh
¾ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper
1½ cucumbers (500g), deseeded and cut into ¼cm-thick half-moons (350g net weight)
1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tbsp cider vinegar
30g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
20g mint leaves, roughly torn
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sumac

Put a tablespoon and a half of the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 90 seconds, until lightly coloured, then add the freekeh, allspice and cinnamon, and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more. Add 270ml water, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then leave to sit, still covered, for another 15 minutes. Remove the lid and leave for about 30 minutes, to cool completely.

Put the cucumber, onion, vinegar and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl and toss to combine. Leave to pickle for about 20 minutes, then add the cold freekeh, herbs, lemon juice, remaining three and a half tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well, then transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the sumac and serve.

Cucumber salad à la Xi’an Impression





Cucumber salad à la Xi’an Impression



Cucumber salad à la Xi’an Impression Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay

Xi’an Impression is a tiny restaurant around the back of Arsenal football stadium. It’s tremendously popular with Ottolenghi chefs for its big flavours based on a brazenly liberal use of chillies, vinegar, soy sauce and oil.

Its cucumber salad, which always appears first on the table, is the loose inspiration for this dish. The dressing can be made up to a week ahead and kept refrigerated – just stir again to loosen it, adding a little water, if need be.

Prep 10 min
Cook 10 min
Marinate 2 hr
Serves 4 as a side

700g cucumbers (ie, roughly 2 large cucumbers), quartered lengthways
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp rice-wine vinegar
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tsp flaked sea salt
3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 spring onions
, trimmed and finely sliced on an angle
½ tbsp black sesame seeds

For the dressing
60g tahini
2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari, to make the dish gluten-free)
1½ tbsp mirin
1½ tbsp rice-wine vinegar

Scoop out and discard the watery centre and seeds from the cucumber quarters, then cut the flesh widthways into chunky, 2cm-thick pieces. Put the cucumber in a bowl with the garlic, vinegar, lime juice and three teaspoons of flaked sea salt, then mix with your hands, lightly crushing the cucumber pieces as you do so.

Gently heat the oil in a small saucepan until warm – about two minutes – then pour over the cucumber and leave to marinate for two hours.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients and two tablespoons of water until you end up with a very smooth sauce (it will seize up a bit to start with, but persevere and it will come together smoothly).

Pour the tahini mixture on to a large plate with a lip, so it naturally pools into a circle in the middle. Drain the cucumbers very well, discarding the liquid, then pile on top of the sauce. Scatter over the sliced spring onion and the sesame seeds, and serve at once.

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