Set your tastebuds tingling with summer salads

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Before we get onto a few of the world’s sensational salad recipes, we should first congratulate a couple of local food heroes: Standhill Cheesery near Minto, whose crowdie won gold at the Royal Highland Show last weekend, and Peelham Farm near Foulden in Berwickshire, whose free-range, slow-grown pigs filled the gold-winning pork pie at the British Pie Awards.

The Royal Highland Show also saw the launch of The Scottish Borders Food Journey: a free 30- page guide to Border food from Selkirk Bannocks to Eyemouth Crab, published by The List and the Scottish Borders Food Network, and soon to be available throughout the region – so look out for it!

Simple Italian Tomato Salad

In the summer in Italy, the best tomatoes are kept for salad. Cut and slice thickly the ripest, crispest, sweetest you can find, and lay them on a plate simply dressed with a fresh basil leaf for each slice, cracked black pepper, crunchy Malden sea salt crystals, lashings of green and pungent extra virgin olive oil, and a strong squeeze of lemon juice. Exquisite.

Raw Courgette Salad

A handful of rocket leaves; four small courgettes, chilled, washed, patted dry, and sliced into rounds the thickness of a 10p piece; Malden sea salt and black pepper; extra virgin olive oil; lemon juice; shavings of Parmesan.

Wash the rocket and break off the stalks. Spin dry. Put the courgette rounds and rocket leaves into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with Malden sea salt. Add 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Give the salad a good toss so that everything is well coated with the dressing. Add as generous amount of Parmesan shavings, and a good grinding of black pepper. Eat right away. [From Dear Francesca by Mary Contini].

Carrot & Coriander Salad

An attractive Moroccan first course, served with Moroccan bread.

1lb carrots, peeled and cut into 4cm x 5mm x 5mm sticks; 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander; 4 teaspoons lemon juice; 4 tablespoons olive oil; 1 teaspoon salt; half a teaspoon cayenne pepper; 1 teaspoon paprika.

Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Drop the carrots into the boiling water and boil for 10 seconds. Drain immediately and place in a bowl. Add the coriander, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper and paprika. Mix well. Serve at room temperature or cold. [From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian].

Creamy Beetroot Salad

8oz (225g) raw beetroot; 8oz (225g) parsnip; 3 tbsp (45ml) chopped parsley; quarter pint soured cream; 2 tbsp (30ml) cider vinegar; salt and pepper to taste. Grate the beetroot and parsnip together, and add the parsley.

Combine the remaining ingredients, then mix together with the vegetables. Toss well. [From The Cranks Restaurant Recipe Book].

Syrian Salad

Good served with all manner of bean, lentil and chickpea dishes.

2 small onions, peeled and cut into fine half rings; 2 medium tomatoes, chopped; 120ml chopped parsley; 4 tablespoons lemon juice; 1.5 tablespoons olive oil; 1.5-2 teaspoons salt; 1 teaspoon dried mint, well crumbled.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Eyemouth Kipper & Potato Salad

Three Eyemouth kippers; 1lb waxy potatoes; heaped tablespoon chopped chives; olive oil; lemon juice; salt, pepper, sugar.

Grill or boil the kippers as usual, strip off the skin and remove the fillets in pieces from the bone, and lay them in the centre of a dish. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their skins. Mix the remaining ingredients to a vinaigrette of five tablespoons oil to about 1.5 of lemon juice. Sprinkle a tablespoon over the kippers. When the potatoes are cooked, remove the skins, cut them into cubes and turn them gently in the remaining vinaigrette. Leave them to cool, then arrange them around the kippers, and serve cold. [Jane Grigson, English Food[].

Fennel & Orange Salad

A Moroccan appetiser served at the start of a meal, or at the end in lieu of a dessert, when the refreshing flavour gives an unimaginably rejuvenating taste. Use a coffee grinder to grind your own cinnamon (the best ground cinnamon is the one you grind yourself) and the flavour of the salad will improve if left to marry in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Two medium, fresh fennel bulbs, cut crossways into paper thin rounds; 2 medium oranges, peeled and cut into segments; 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon sugar; pinch of ground cinnamon.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Refrigerate, covered for at least 30-60 minutes. Drain lightly before serving. [From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian].

Celery, Cucumber & Grape Salad

For the salad: 4 celery sticks; half a cucumber; 8oz (225g) red grapes.

For the dressing: quarter pint (140ml) natural yoghurt; 1tsp (5ml) honey; 1tsp (5ml) French mustard; salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the celery, slice the cucumber, halve the grapes and remove pips. Put all the salad ingredients together in a bowl. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and season well with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss.

Ethiopian Lentil Salad with Crushed Mustard Seeds

Madhur Jaffray in her World Vegetarian writes: “In the West, we are used to buying prepared mustard in a jar, but many of the older civilisations, Ethiopia included, know better. Mustard is very malleable: if you grind it, it is slightly bitter and quite hot. However, if you grind it and then add hot water to it, it turns delightfully, pleasingly, nose-tinglingly pungent. It is in this form that the Ethiopians use it to dress their lentils. The flavours are haunting.

190g (6.5oz) green lentils, picked over and rinsed; 1 teaspoon salt; a quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper; 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds; 6-7 black peppercorns; 3 tablespoons olive oil; 3 tablespoons lemon juice; half a large green pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 5mm dice.

Put the lentils and 600ml (1 pint) water in a pan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low, and cover the pan.

Cook gently for 30-35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Allow to cool. Put the salt, cayenne, mustard seeds and peppercorns into a clean coffee grinder or other spice grinder and grind finely. Put into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons boiling water and mix. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Beat well to mix. Add to the lentils with the green pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.