The list of ingredients we can add to a salad is endless… here we base our salads on salad leaves, fresh herbs and then seasonal additions. This one is a favourite with just-poached eggs and a wonderfully creamy dressing. We always try to have a salad on the table for every meal – I find at the beginning of new year the children are reluctant to eat lettuce leaves or radishes, but that changes as they become used to seeing the bowls on the table, and the difference of ingredients according to the seasons…
Fresh from the garden: Lettuces leaves, rocket, eggs, cucumber, radishes, tarragon, chives, oregano, thyme, marjoram, parsley
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes
- Bowls – 2 large, 1 medium, 2 small
- A salad spinner
- Tea towel, kitchen paper
- Chopping boards & knives
- Non-stick frying pan
- Slotted spoon
- Stick blender & cup
- Measuring: jug, teaspoon, ½ teaspoon
- Citrus juicer
- Serving bowls
- 4 freshest free-range eggs
- A bunch of salad & rocket leaves
- A handful of herbs
- A few garnishing flowers
- A cucumber
- Some radishes
For the tarragon mayonnaise:
- 50g landcress
- 1 large sprig tarragon
- 1 extra egg
- ½ teaspoon flaked salt
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 level teaspoon mustard powder
- 120ml rice bran or veg oil
- 25ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ½ a lemon
- Freshly milled black pepper
What to do:
For the salad:
- Fill up the 2 big bowls with cold water & wash the salad leaves in several changes of water. Spin dry and wipe the bowls dry.
- Lay out the tea towel and line it with kitchen paper. Spread the salad leaves over the paper and roll the whole lot up like a log. Keep the rolled parcel of leaves in the fridge until needed.
- Fill up another bowl with water and wash the herbs and small garnishing leaves. Spin dry and pick leaves, discarding stalks into compost.
- Pick the petals from the flowers and reserve in a small bowl with the garnishing leaves.
- Chop the herbs and keep separate in their own small bowl.
- Wash the cucumber and peel if spiky. Slice into mouth-sized pieces.
- Wash the radishes and trim any roots and stalk. Slice into smaller pieces or chunks – or even better, use the mandoline to carefully slice super-thin discs.
To poach the eggs:
- Fill a medium-sized frying pan with water to a depth of approximately 4cm, then heat it to a temperature just sufficient to keep the water at a bare simmer.
- Then break the eggs into the simmering water, one at a time until they’re all in, and let them cook, uncovered, for 2 or 3 minutes. Fill a large bowl with cold water.
- The eggs are done when the white is no longer wobbly, then use a draining spoon to lift them from the water and transfer them to the bowl of cold water until you are ready to use them.
For the sauce:
- Wash, spin dry and separate off the landcress leaves and discard any tough stalks into the compost. Wash & spin dry the tarragon. Pick the tarragon to yield about 1 tablespoon leaves.
- Squeeze the lemon half to yield ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Peel the garlic clove & finely chop. Wash & dry the chives and snip finely.
- Now break the extra egg into the cup of the stock blender, add the salt, garlic, mustard powder and a few twists of freshly milled black pepper, then blitz to blend these together.
- Now mix the oils in the jug and ask a helper to pour it in a thin trickle into the cup whilst it’s blending. When all the oil is in, add the vinegar, lemon juice, watercress and tarragon leaves, then blend again until the leaves are quite finely chopped.
- Take the lettuce from the fridge and chop or tear into mouth-sized strips. Pop them into a big bowl, then add the spring onions and herbs & drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of white wine vinegar & a sprinkle of flaked salt over the whole lot.
- Using your hands, turn the leaves to coat in the dressing and then divide the lot among your serving bowls.
- Spoon an egg at a time out of the water and dry off with some paper towel or a tea towel, and then carefully arrange one egg on each salad.
- Drizzle the mayo over the top of each salad, followed by a sprinkle of a few of the snipped chives and the flowers and serve immediately with tongs or service cutlery.
Notes: What is mayo short for? What other salad dressings could you use? Why do we need to wash the leaves so well? Why do we roll the leaves up to put them in the fridge? When would you need to use vinegar to poach the eggs? Why do we reserve the cooked eggs in cold water?