This is one of my favourite summer salads - it's fresh and vibrant, and has great texture. There have been numerous versions around of the nectarine and tomato salad - with good reason. They are surprisingly good together - the sweet, juicy nectarines are a perfect foil to the more acid-sweetness of the tomatoes. It makes a great side salad to just about anything, but I like to amp things up a bit by adding some peppery salad leaves and some paprika roasted prawns to make a complete meal.
Now before I share the recipe, I want to talk a bit more about salads in general. I've said it here a dozen times or more ... I love salads. A big bowl, substantial salad is hands down my favourite meal any time of the year. Such is my love of salad, that I'm challenging myself to come up with a different salad every day for the month of February - that's 28 days of salads - and I plan to share as many of them as I can with you. I'll also be doing some flashbacks to some of my favourite salads I've shared in the past.
What's more, I'm giving you the opportunity to share some of your favourite salads with me too. Have a favourite salad you'd like to share? Simply link up your salad recipe using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. The linky will be open all month, and you can join in any day or every day, and link as many recipes as you like. Feel free to grab the Salad Days badge from the sidebar to include in your post if you'd like to. There's really no rules around linking up, other than please, use your manners and link your post back to this one. Linking old posts is fine too, just please edit them to include the back link.
I always find that thinking about salads sparks the most creativity in me around food, and I thought I would share with you some of my suggestions for creating a great salad of your own.
Salads are not just summer fare. I like a salad which is substantial enough to constitute a meal in its own right, and this can be surprisingly easy to achieve in winter when all sorts of root vegetables are in season. So what are my salad rules?
Firstly, a good salad should ideally, in my opinion, contain some form of protein. This could come in the form of:
- Cheese - grilled haloumi, feta, blue cheese, brie, soft goats-milk cheeses, bocconcini or mozzarella are all great in salads
- Poultry - try chicken, duck or quail
- Fish and seafood - salmon, smoked white fish, prawns, lobster, crab, squid, mussels are all wonderful additions to any salad
- Meat - personally I don't use much meat in my salads other than perhaps some chorizo sausage or some crispy prosciutto or pancetta, but you could certainly experiment with the inclusion of some rare lamb or beef
- Nuts and seeds - I like cashews, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Pulses & legumes - try chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, lima beans, borlotti beans
- And yes, if you must, tofu - I have to say it definitely wouldn't find its way into any salad of mine, but it would certainly be a good inclusion for those whose gastronomic ethos doesn't extend to the consumption of various other forms of protein and, apparently, some people even like it.
Secondly, I like a grain of some sort - noodles, pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, croutons are a few suggestions. It is useful to know, if your diet doesn't include any animal products, that pulses combined with grains form a complete protein.
Thirdly, a great meal in a salad should have great texture and colour - consider the inclusion of some fruit (fresh or dried) and fresh herbs (mint, coriander, flat-leaf parsley, basil, tarragon are all wonderful in salads).
And lastly, your salad should have a great dressing which pulls the whole meal together - it's the dressing which really balances out all the ingredients you have chosen for your salad and creates beautiful layers of flavour.
Above all, don't be afraid to experiment and come up with your own wonderful creations. Like all experimenting in the kitchen, not everything will be a success, but along the way you will learn a great deal about flavours and textures that work well together, and you will without doubt get many pleasant surprises.
Paprika Roasted Prawns with Tomato Nectarine Salad Recipe
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
No need to follow quantities too literally here - use your instincts, and this can easily be multiplied to feed any number of people
For each person allow:
100g-150g (3-1/2 to 5 oz) raw prawns
1x large, ripe nectarine, stone removed and cut into wedges
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved, use a variety of colours if you can get them
large handful of peppery salad leaves such as rocket and mizuna
handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
To flavour the prawns:
1-2 teaspoons smoky paprika (depending on your tastes)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (or more, depending on the quantity of prawns you are cooking)
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Dressing (this will probably make enough for two generous servings):
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
Meanwhile make the dressing - place all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake until everything is well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix together the paprika, olive oil, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the prawns in the bowl until they are all well coated, then place prawns in a single layer in an ovenproof dish. Place dish in the oven and roast until the prawns are just cooked through. This will only take about 5 minutes so keep an eye on them.
Place the nectarines, cherry tomatoes, and half the parsley in a bowl, pour over half of the dressing, and toss to combine everything well. Leave to stand while the prawns are cooking to allow the juices from the nectarines and cherry tomatoes to "meld" with the dressing.
Arrange salad greens on a serving platter, and nestle the nectarines and tomatoes (with their dressing) in amongst the leaves. Arrange the cooked prawns over the top, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and finish with a sprinkling of the remaining parsley.
What's your favourite salad? I'd love you to tell me about ... better yet, why not share it.