Salad dressing

Roasted beetroot with cumin, lime and mint dressing

beetroot salad

We have beetroot coming out of our ears. This is great news, but after using it in all our best-loved beetroot dishes (borscht, Russian salad, my husband’s legendary pink risotto) we are running out of ideas. So this week I’ve been experimenting with dressings for cold, roasted beetroot so that we can have it on its own for lunch, or on the side with any old meal.

So far this is my favourite. The flavours of cumin and lime are fantastic with the sweet beetroot.

Roasted beetroot with a cumin, lime and mint dressing

  • 4 large beetroot


  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds (don’t be tempted to cheat and use powdered cumin – it’s just not the same)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • A table spoon of fresh mint leaves, chopped

For the roast beetroot, first cut off the leaves and trim the root, then scrub to remove as much dirt as possible.

Place in a baking tin, cover tightly with foil, and bake in an oven heated to 160oC for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The beetroot is cooked when a skewer goes all the way through without resistance. Leave to cool and then slip the beetroots out of their skins and chop into small chunks or thin slices.

For the dressing, first dry fry the cumin seeds in a small frying pan, without oil, over a high heat for about 30 seconds until brown and fragrant. Crush in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of coarse sea salt.

Add this mix to the other ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Spoon over the roasted beetroot and serve.

NOTE: This beetroot salad goes really well with brown rice and flaked hot smoked salmon.


Broad bean salad

broad bean and bacon salad

When I was a child my list of worst nightmare foods would have included, liver, mushrooms, black pudding and melted cheese. At the top of the list though would have been broad beans. I have terrible memories of chewing through tough leathery skins to reveal that disgusting chalky texture and for years I didn’t dare touch them.

But then we started to grow broad beans on our allotment (because they’re notoriously easy to grow and we were a bit rubbish) and this was the recipe that completely converted me. Trust Delia to get it right but having said that anything mixed with crispy bacon is usually nice. Now I can’t wait for the first broad beans of the season.

This salad is best with really fresh young broad beans. I’ve learnt that when the broad beans get old and tough you have to take the time to remove the white outer layer of skin and even then it’s best to turn them into broad bean hummus (if you want a recipe for this see my post).

Delia Smith’s broad bean salad

Serves 2

  • 700g of broad beans (shelled), or thereabouts
  • 2 rashers of lean, smoked bacon (without the rind), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs (I use marjoram and parsley)
  • 4 spring onions

For the dressing

  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • 1 dessertspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 dessertspoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 level teaspoon of crushed rock salt
  • Freshly milled black pepper to taste
  • 4 dessertspoons of flavourless oil (like groundnut or sunflower oil)

First fry the bacon until it’s really crisp and set aside.

Make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a jam jar and shaking until well amalgamated.

Next cook the broad beans in boiling water until tender. The time this takes will depend on how young and fresh they are (I usually find that they are done once they float to the surface of the water and this tends to be somewhere between 1 and 3 minutes).

If you’re making this later in the broad bean season then it’s best to pop the inside out of the white layer of skin which tends to be thick and chewy when the beans are older.

Drain thoroughly and toss them in the dressing while they are still warm. Stir in the bacon and spring onion and serve.

I like to serve with some cucumber and salad leaves. If you’re feeling particularly lavish then a poached egg on top works brilliantly.

Japanese style salad dressing with sesame


So I’m back from Japan and have spent the last week in a jet lagged haze barely able to put two words together let alone cook a decent meal.
And I’ve been slightly demoralised in the kitchen having been spoilt by Japanese cuisine which for me is absolute food heaven.

The high end of Japanese dining is not really accessible to clueless westerners who can only speak two words of Japanese (arigatou gozaimasu/thank you very much) especially ones with two young children in tow, but fast food in Japan is often very good quality and not at all expensive. There are plenty of Japanese food outlets where you can get a decent bowl of udon noodles or beef over rice and feed a family of four for around £10.

And even when you come across Japanese versions of international dishes they just seem to do it so much better – the fast food chain Mos Burger is a good example. I hate McDonald’s and Burger King but the burgers and chips in Mos Burger are absolute perfection. We also tried some unusual combinations that just shouldn’t work but were delicious, such as deep fried shrimps with beef curry sauce (first with rice, and then bizarrely inside a doughnut!!!).

Anyway, this week in an attempt to inject some Japanese flavours in my lazy (what time is it?) cooking I’ve attempted to recreate a sesame salad dressing that often came with set menu side salads in Japan. My next step is to get a bit more adventurous and so I have just ordered a couple of Japanese cookbooks from Amazon. My dream is to learn to make my own udon noodles and authentic yakitori but in the meantime here’s my simple Japanese style salad dressing recipe.

Japanese style salad dressing with sesame

Enough for a large simple lunchtime salad for one person made with lettuce, cucumber and carrot

  • 2 teaspoons of mirin
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mayonnaise

Put all of the above ingredients into a jam jar and shake vigorously. Pour over your salad.

noodles (2)

Simple udon noodles for lunch – I will learn to make these.

Great, great grandma Marguerite’s French dressing

It’s always useful to have a good salad dressing recipe to hand. My grandmother gave me this classic recipe which was handed down to her by her French grandma. It is very straight forward and tastes good on a simple green salad (especially if the healthy green leaves are accompanied by a nice juicy steak). You can also use it as a dressing for a rice or pasta salad.

French dressing

Enough for one large salad

  • 1 ½ tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons of groundnut, sunflower or other flavourless oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the ingredients into a jam jar and shake well until combined.

You can also add chopped herbs from the garden.

This dressing keeps well for a week or so in the fridge.