It took me a looong time to get into salads. And by ‘get into’ I mean ‘eat at all’. I think I ate salad voluntarily for the first time in my mid-twenties. Now I’m a lot more grown up, obviously, but my fear of The Lettuce Leaf still lurks just beneath the surface. And raw vegetables? Touch and go. So while I’ll seldom (never) order a salad in a restaurant, I have discovered that there are some awesome salads to be made without (a) the dreaded Lettuce Leaf, and (b) everything having that raw veggie taste. So that’s good news. You’ll notice, with shock I’m sure, that the picture featured here has the dreaded Lettuce Leaf prominently displayed – sometimes I give in to aesthetics, particularly for a dinner party, because mixed leaves have the nice colour combo of green and red leaves. Also, breaking the stalks off baby spinach (which is my leaf of choice) takes forever in large quantities. But use whatever greenery takes your fancy, because we all have preferences, and life is short.
Grillled Baby Marrow, Ricotta and Chilli Salad
150g mixed leaves
800g baby marrows
3 red chillis
50g walnuts, toasted
balsamic glaze, to serve
Break the most offensive stalks off your mixed leaves, and arrange them on a large serving platter. Thinly slice the baby marrows using a knife or mandolin (but be careful of your fingers if yours is as sharp as mine) and toss with some olive oil in a roasting dish. Grill or bake the baby marrow slices until they are starting to colour – probably 30 min or so. Just make sure you stir them up a few times during cooking, otherwise the top slices will burn and the underneth ones won’t be cooked. Let them cool while you slice the chillis and toast the walnuts (in a dry pan, on the stove for a few minutes, stirring often), and then arrange the slices on top of the leaves. Crumble the ricotta in a pleasing pattern, and scatter with toased nuts and slices of chilli. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.