Happy 4th of July! Once again, a holiday sneaks up on me and I am here, at the last gasp, tippy tapping away trying to write a relevant post. My excuse is that as an ex-pat American living in the UK we of course don’t celebrate the 4th. While the US is celebrating getting away from past religious intolerance and heavy taxes (no comment), we – the offending country – might have a little shelf at Tescos with red, white and blue foods. Aside from fresh berries, it is all unnatural. Of course.
But I know that Stateside the only way to not know it is The Fourth of July (it has to be in caps, btw) is to be in sedated in hospital, or living deep in a wood somewhere with only bears and wolves for company. I trust none of you fall into those categories.
Like Thanksgiving and even Christmas, The Fourth is about family and food. Or food and family, depending on how well you like your kith and kin. But unlike these other holidays the Fourth is almost always outdoors: kids running around like demented bees, balls thwacked into leather gloves, fireworks set off just a little too close for comfort, and of course long tables set out with more food than anyone could possibly hope to eat. Much of it will be barbecued – mainly meat, but things like devilled eggs and colourful salads also feature very highly.
It’s been awhile since I was involved in Fourth of July preparations, but from what I see on Pinterest the weekend (not just a day this year) all is still red white and blue. Even BBQ ribs will probably have a little miniature flag stuck into them.
If I were going to a Fourth of July celebration this is the salad I would bring. It is not red, white and blue of course, so I may be disqualified in some neighbourhoods, but it is a perfect foil to the heavier fare typical of the holiday. And the ‘magic’ dressing could go on just about any salad (grain ones too) and even be used to marinate chicken and fish.
Speaking of marinating, this is one of the top tips from the American Institute of Cancer Research on how to barbecue more safely. You see, the acids in vinegar (and citrus) help to neutralise some pretty nasty compounds being formed while grilling meat. Homemade marinades taste pretty awesome and tenderise too. If you want more healthy tips on grilling safely, visit their page, and also my friend Conner’s page over at Modern Mediterranean. Trust me, if you grill meat you will want to read how best to do it safely and healthily for your family and friends.
So to the salad. The magic ingredient is nectarines. Or peaches. They blend up so creamy and light that you won’t want or need to add any oil or dairy. Not that oil is bad of course, but I like to have a bigger helping of pecans and avocado rather than a extra oil where it it isn’t absolutely required. Try it for yourself. The great bonus – other than the texture and flavour – about a salad like this you can keep the dressing and salad separate and mix on the spot. You don’t have to worry about refrigerating the dressing and can keep the cool bags and boxes stocked only with ice lollies. Some of these coming tomorrow :-). Healthy ones, natch. Here’s sneak preview from my phone
Incidentally, I mention raspberry vinegar but just use any fruit vinegar you like or all apple cider vinegar. The raspberries and raspberry vinegar give an extra flavour – peach melba-ish I suppose, but I like it just fine without. If you want to capitalise on raspberry season beyond the usual desserts and jams, raspberry vinegar is very simple to make. Here is a link to my fruit vinegars recipe if you want to give it a try. And go on, have a look at my post on blackcurrant and raspberry jam while you’re at it – it’s my favourite jam Ever.
Before I give you the recipe, don’t forget to comment on my last post for your chance to to win a bakeware set from Viner’s. UK only, but new kale crisp recipes up too!
What salads are you having this Fourth of July (include a link to your recipe if you like)? Are you celebrating with family and friends? Or, are you elsewhere and at work, wishing you could have red white and blue BBQ ribs/tofu? 🙂
White Nectarine and Pecan Salad with a Quick Nectarine and Raspberry Dressing
Peaches and nectarines of any hue are welcome in this quick and easy salad. The dressing is perfect for picnics and outdoor eating – creamy in texture but with no dairy whatsoever. It is just a nectarine, some raspberry vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), a few raspberries, a touch of Dijon mustard and a dash of seasoning. It is a dressing I am frequently asked the recipe for but have only just written it up as it just seemed too simple. Simple and delicious. Carry the salad and separate dressing along to your Fourth of July celebrations as a healthy alternative to what is an indulgent and fun weekend. Enjoy! K x
120 gm or so of salad leaves of choice (biggish bag) – baby spinach is a classic, but mix it up with some other stuff too, like lamb’s lettuce, chicory and rocket, washed and spun/patted dry
2 white nectarines or other nectarines/peaches
One quarter cucumber (half a US one, peeled and deseeded, if necessary)
½ ripe avocado
Good handful of pecan nuts or walnuts
The Magic Dressing
1 nectarine or peach, stoned removed
6 raspberries (optional)
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp raspberry vinegar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or all of either)
A little water or good oil to thin, as necessary (not too much – keep it ‘creamy’ and tasty)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Maple syrup, as required
1. Make up the dressing by roughly chopping the nectarine and adding it to the bowl of a mini chopper or similar (can use a hand blender/jug combination), along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy and a lovely pink colour. Taste and adjust the flavour – maybe add a little maple syrup if too tart for you. Pour into a jug and set aside.
2. Put together the salad by washing and tearing the salad leaves as necessary. Now cut the nectarine lengthways along its natural line and pull in half. Slice lengthways down through the flesh to make long slices and gently pull away from the stone. Or do how it is best for you.
3. Slice the cucumbers how you wish – slices or small chunks; slip the avocado from its shell and dice or slice. If you wish, lightly toast the nuts in the oven – 180C/350F – for about eight minutes and cool.
4. Layer up the salad ingredients and dress just before serving.