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The Salad Days of Summer

The Salad Days of Summer
Chef of celebrities Marco Pernini

Chef of celebrities Marco Pernini

Summertime and the living is easy. Who wants to be in the kitchen cooking up a hot, heavy meal, much less eat one when the weather is fine? Salads are the perfect solution. They are perfect summer eating. Chef Marco Pernini presents a quick, easy and, most importantly, delicious – summer salad.

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If you, like me, are a lover of summertime, then you are probably very happy that the sun is finally shining, the temperature is rising, outdoor swimming pools are opening, and the sea and beaches are beckoning. During this sunny time, I find people are happier, smiling more than usual, enjoying a drink outdoors, and just generally being more active. We all want to show off our efforts at the gym and diets are at the top of our list.

The season of cold salads has arrived!

When it’s hot we tend to refresh and substitute hot food and drinks with cold ones: a cup of tea becomes an iced tea, hot coffee becomes iced coffee and so on. We also tend to have more salads at this time of year. They are refreshing, easy to make, and very healthy.

What most people tend to think of when they hear the word salad is a leafy vegetable dish often served with a sauce or dressing. However, the category is much more diverse than this and also includes dishes made of such ingredients as fruits, grains, meats, seafood, and sweets.

Most salads are served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm. Leafy salads are generally served with a dressing, as well as various garnishes such as nuts or croutons, and sometimes with meat, fish, pasta, cheese, eggs, or whole grains.

What I like about salads is they can be served at any point during a meal, such as:

  • Appetiser salads, light salads to stimulate the appetite as the first course of the meal.
  • Side salads, to accompany the main course as a side dish.
  • Main course salads, usually containing a portion of heartier fare, such as chicken breast or slices of beef.
  • Palate-cleansing salads, to settle the stomach after the main course.

If you want to feel light after a summer meal, a balanced main course salad, or insalatona as they call it in Italy, is what I suggest. Make sure it is well balanced, with protein as well as carbohydrates, or you will run the risk of feeling hungry very soon after.

I love to pack my salads with grains. Nutritionally dense and easily digested, brown rice, quinoa, pearled barley are some of the many grains to choose from. I also love to add seeds -toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds are my favourites.

The other luxury I love about salads is that they can be dressed in a variety of ways. Different vinegar and mustard dressings can be sweetened with honey or by using balsamic vinegar. A sharp taste can come from adding other vinegars or lemon. I also sometimes use seeds as an alternative to oil – any seeds you like would work. I put the seeds in an electric blender with water or vinegar, puree them to a paste, and use it as dressing. One of my favourites is tahini (sesame seed paste). When I was in Tel Aviv, I loved this sauce so much I started to drink it, literally. It is very healthy, too.

It is hard to leave you with a salad recipe – who doesn’t know how to make salad? But I want to show you how I impress my clients (or myself) with a tasty summer salad that can be a healthy, energy-promoting and slimming meal, all in one.

Let’s call it “Salad al Marco”
Here it is:

“Salad al Marco”

[note]
INGREDIENTS:

1 handful of mixed salad leaves (mesclun so you get a good variety of greens)
1 handful of rocket/arugula salad
100 g. of cooked pearl barley
3-4 steamed and sliced asparagus spears
6 blanched snow peas, cut in julienne
a few olives, green or kalamata (optional)
2 thinly sliced red radishes
1 sliced cooked beetroot
a few slices of cucumber
5 cherry tomatoes.

You can also add sliced chicken breast, smoked salmon, or other protein on the side.

 

METHOD:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and add dressing of your choice.
A simple mix of extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar will do the job nicely.

You can also add sliced chicken breast, smoked salmon, or other protein on the side.
[/note]

 

There you have it – a simple meal composed of carbs, proteins, vegetables and lots of vitamins – a very tasty and healthy summer dish.

Enjoy!

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