As the summer comes into its own, the garden needs tending on a regular basis and I spend more hours working outside than in the kitchen. Most of my time and engery is spent waging a war on the weeds in the vegetable patch which I am afraid, as I write, is a battle I am losing. For the sake of my mental health I have decided that the self seeded parsnips that keep appearing in my gravel path actually look quite pretty and the poppies that have also decided to make camp there are in fact my ally and not the enemy.
These tasty salads are a boon in the summer, not only quick and easy but positively brimming with goodness and make me feel not quite so guilty about having a slice of cake or the odd cream tea in the garden.
The tomatoes and fennel take about an hour to roast but they are faff free and just need to be plonked in a tin with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt, letting you get on with whatever else you want. Hopefully, sitting in the garden with a glass of something nice in hand.
Roasted tomatoes take on a beautiful deep sweetness after being baked and become one of the stars of the show rather than just a bit player. Don’t be tempted to take them out of the oven too early, let them take on some brown caramelisation and turn really soft.
The salad is filling enough to eat as as a main on its own, but if you are feeling very hungry you could mop up the delicious juice left on the plate with a hunk of crusty bread.
- 1 Fennel Bulb, hard root removed then sliced lengthways
- 400g Cherry Tomatoes, pricked with a sharp knife
- Handful of Salad leaves
- 100g Feta Cheese
- 2-3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
- About 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
- Sea Salt
- Olive Oil
- Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) 350c
- Put the fennel and tomatoes in the roasted pan.
- Drizzle with oilve oil and and season with sea salt.
- Bake in the oven for about hour. (Check at 45 minutes)
- When done, leave to cool, you can use them slightly warm but not hot.
- In a small dry pan, toast the pine nuts until turning brown. This only takes a few minutes so stand by the pan while they are cooking, shaking them occasionally. Remove from the heat.
- Arrange the salad leaves on a large serving plate.
- Add the tomatoes and fennel and any juice.
- Add the crumbled feta, basil and pine nuts.
- Drizzle with olive oil and serve.