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Glasgow-based food writer and chef Fi Buchanan shares recipes from her new book, Seasonal Salads

This is the way to get your five-a-day this January

Published: January 17, 2023
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“I remember where I was the first time I had rocket: age 10, in corduroys and wellies, at Edna Whyte and Audrey Stone’s incredibly gallery and restaurant The Buttery on the Hebridean island of Luing. I ate for the first time salad that was entirely something other than the token quarter tomato, piece of cucumber and shred of iceberg lettuce. I was struck by lightning. Peppery rocket with homemade brown bread and butter and freshly made lemonade. It was the best meal of my life.

Forty years on, I still find salads just as lip-smacking. They can be anything you want them to be – charred, roasted, sprinkled with sherbet or anointed with herby oils - but should always be fresh, nutritious and reflect the changing seasons.

Developing a repertoire of delicious everyday salads that generate little washing up and can be made quickly is cost effective, and healthier than relying on micro-ready meals. And salads are not just for summer; they’re a great way to eat all your round.

My recipes are just starting points; there are no hard and fast rules when making a salad. Feel free to stray from the ingredients list and cook creatively to please yourself. Treat these recipes as trustworthy bases - enjoy them as they are or create your own variations around them”. 

Buchanan is a food writer and chef who owned Glasgow’s Heart Buchanan Café. Winner of a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award, she presented the BBC series Teen Canteen; has worked behind the scenes on TV food shows and has given a TEDx talk on courage. Seasonal Salads by Fi Buchanan is published in hardback by Kitchen Press, £15 hardback

Emerald divinity

This green, intensely delicious dressing is perfect poured on crisp flavour vessels like celery and baby gem leaves. Or you could dip crisps in it or try it on grilled chicken or over crispy tofu. It’s the taste of spring in a sauce. For a healthier alternative, replace the mayonnaise with one very ripe avocado.

Serves 4

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4 baby gem lettuces, cut lengthwise into quarters

4 celery sticks, tough strings removed, sliced

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced

4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

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for the dressing:

50g picked flat-leaf parsley leaves

50g watercress, tough stems removed

2 tbsp picked tarragon leaves

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10g picked basil leaves

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

50ml olive oil

100g mayonnaise or vegenaise

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 Make the dressing by blitzing the parsley, watercress, tarragon and basil in a blender for two 10-second pulses, then add the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, mayonnaise or vegenaise and the salt and blend until incorporated.

2 Arrange the lettuce, celery, fennel and spring onions on a large platter. Either serve the dressing on the side so people can add their own or dip, or drizzle the dressing over.

Celeriac remoulade

Lemon and créme fraîche add a tang to this delicious wintery salad. Add the celeriac straight to the dressing as you chop it as it browns quickly.

Serves 4

juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise or vegenaise

3 tbsp créme fraîche (omit if you’re vegan and double the vegenaise)

1 tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard

1 small-to-medium celeriac (about 700g), scrubbed

15g picked tarragon leaves, finely chopped

15g picked parsley leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp tiny capers, rinsed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, mayo, créme fraîche, mustard and black pepper to taste in a large bowl. Set aside.

2 Using a sharp knife, top and tail the celeriac, then stand it on one end and, following its curve, cut downward to remove the skin and nobbly bits. Halve the celeriac and slice each half very thinly (use a mandolin, if you have one). Then, taking two or three slices at a time, chop the slices into matchsticks.

3 Mix the dressing into the celeriac together with the tarragon, parsley and capers. Taste for seasoning and eat within 3 days.

Roasted peppers, orzo and manchego

I always double the quantity of roasted peppers and store the extra when I make this. That way I have them customised the way I like, with extra garlic and rosemary, for loads of other dishes. If you’re in a hurry, shop-bought roasted peppers are a good, quick alternative.

Serves 4

750ml vegetable stock

250g orzo

250g roasted peppers

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2–3 sprigs rosemary or thyme, finely chopped

25g picked basil leaves

25g rocket

100g Manchego, shaved in thin slices from the block

1 In a pan over a medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer, add the orzo, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes (or according to the packet instructions), until tender. Drain, reserving 50ml (roughly 3 tablespoons) of the stock, and set aside to cool.

Cut the peppers into finger-width strips. Then, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium heat, add the garlic and swirl for a minute or two until it softens.

Add the fennel and coriander seeds and paprika and cook for another minute or so, until the fennel is fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat, add the orzo and the reserved stock and mix until everything is well coated.

Add the peppers, vinegar and rosemary or thyme, mix and transfer to a serving dish. Just before serving, scatter over the basil, rocket and thin

shavings of Manchego.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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