“This is a terrific recipe to keep up your sleeve, as it’s so quick and easy to put together and makes a lovely light lunch that needs nothing more than warm bread and a glass of chilled wine to round it out. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it also feels a bit luxurious and special with its combination of smoked salmon, asparagus and avocado.
By the way, there isn’t a lot of the horseradish cream, as it is quite rich and the salad only needs a little dollop on the side, but by all means increase the quantities if you would prefer more.”
Belinda Jeffery from The Salad Book
16 asparagus spears
250g sugar snap or snowpeas (mange-tout), tops trimmed and strung
300g Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and halved lengthways
4 handfuls of watercress sprigs or small rocket leaves
1 large, just-ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
350g hot-smoked salmon, broken into bite-sized chunks
olive oil, for sautéing
40g pine nuts
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
½ tsp caster sugar
¾–1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp fig or balsamic vinegar, or to taste
For the horseradish cream
60 g crème fraîche or sour cream
1½ tbsp horseradish cream
1 tbsp finely chopped dill or chives
sea salt, to taste
1. To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a jar, seal it tightly, then shake it vigorously to dissolve the sugar and salt. Taste it and adjust the flavours to suit you. Set the dressing aside (it’s best kept in the fridge if you’re making it more than an hour or two ahead of time).
2. For the horseradish cream, put the crème fraîche or sour cream and horseradish cream in a small bowl, and briefly mix them together until the mixture is thick and creamy. Gently stir in the dill or chives, then taste it, and add a little salt if necessary. Scrape the mixture into a serving bowl, cover it and pop it in the fridge.
3. Trim the woody bases of the asparagus and peel them if you like. When they’re all done slip the asparagus spears into a large frying pan of lightly salted, boiling water and adjust the heat so the water bubbles gently around them. Cook them for about 3 minutes or until they’re tender but still lovely and green (you may have to do these in batches if your pan is small). As soon as they’re ready, remove them from the pan and scoop them into a bowl of iced water to stop them cooking and set the colour; then drain and dry them in a thick tea towel. Slice them on the diagonal into three pieces then tumble them into a large bowl.
4. Steam the sugar snaps or snowpeas for 2–3 minutes until they’re bright green and tender, but still a little crisp. Drain them, then drop them into iced water also, to set the colour. Drain and dry in a thick tea towel, then add them to the asparagus.
5. Use a teaspoon to scoop the seeds out of the cucumber halves, then slice them thinly on the diagonal. Put the cucumber slices in with the peas and asparagus. Add the dressing and gently mix everything together.
6. To serve, scatter some of the watercress or rocket leaves in the base of each plate or bowl, then scoop some of the asparagus mixture on top. Dot this with avocado and chunks of salmon, then repeat the layers, finishing off with a sprinkle of watercress or rocket leaves.
7. Finally, warm a splash of olive oil in a small frying pan, and sauté the pine nuts for 1–2 minutes until they’re golden. As soon as they’re ready, remove the pan from the heat and scatter the warm nuts over the salads, then finish off with a good grinding of black pepper. Serve the horseradish cream separately.
The Salad Book is published by Hardie Grant and Lantern priced £19.99.