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Entertaining 24 December 2021

Seasonal Summer Salads Worth Savouring

Impress your guests at this year’s summertime dinner parties, or bring something everyone will like to the family Christmas with our healthy and helpful guide to seasonal salad making.

Contrary to popular belief, these salads are sure to make you friends this summer. Whether you’re looking for something light, trying to cut down on your meat consumption or just love a good salad, these four recipes have the bite and crunch you’re searching for in the perfect summer meal. From at-home chefs to kitchen novices, you’ll have everyone floored by your culinary skills with these four quick and easy recipes that look and taste five stars worthy.

Words By Ruby Staley

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

A rich, yet still light enough salad for a warm summer’s night.

Bring two cups of vegetable stock to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 200g pearl couscous. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until couscous is tender. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine 2 tsp of Middle Eastern spice blend and a ¼ cup of extra virgin oil in a small bowl. Place 4 baby eggplants quartered lengthways on a baking tray. Brush oil mixture over eggplant wedges.

Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook eggplant, turning, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and tender. Transfer to paper towel to drain.

Place one small red capsicum cut into chunks, a Lebanese cucumber halved lengthways, half of 1/3 cup of fresh mint and half 1/3 cup fresh coriander in a serving bowl. Add couscous and toss to combine.

Remove seeds from a pomegranate over a bowl to catch the juice. Add pomegranate seeds and a ¼ cup of extra virgin oil to pomegranate juice. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Top couscous mixture with eggplant, and a half of 1/3 cup of both fresh mint and coriander. Spoon over dressing and serve.

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

Panzanella Salad

Perfect for sharing, this Panzanella salad is the ultimate recipe for impressing guests at dinner parties with ease.

In the bottom of a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or sherry vinegar, 3 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Add ½ cup sliced red onion and the kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn, and toss until coated. Let sit for 10 minutes while you prep everything else.

While you wait, slice up 10 small or 5 medium tomatoes into wedges, halve 16 cherry tomatoes, pit and slice 3 peaches and cube 4 to 5 cups of crusty bread – the crustier the better!

To the bowl, add the tomatoes, peaches, bread, and ½ cup of basil. Toss to combine, adding more olive oil if the bread is too dry, and more lemon, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Let the salad sit for about 10 minutes so that the juices can soak into the bread. Give it a toss, then top with another ½ cup of fresh basil and 1 cup of roasted chickpeas – if you so desire.

Serve and enjoy under the warm sun!

Panzanella Salad

Watermelon Salad

Perfect for the no fuss cooks, this is an easy and satisfying crowd pleaser that seems far more complex to make than it really is.

To compile this bursting sweet yet savoury salad, start by simply removing the rind from a baby watermelon or half or so of a larger one, and cut the flesh into 1 1/2-inch-thick triangles.

Arrange each of the pieces on a base of a platter and top with ½ cup of fresh mint leaves, ¼ cup of thinly sliced red onion, 1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes halved.

To the side, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon of pure honey, and a pinch of both kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl.

Spoon over watermelon; top with as much crumbled feta as your heart desires.

Voila! The best chef crown is yours.

Watermelon Salad

Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate Salad

This summer salad would be amiss without the inclusion of one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s much loved and enjoyed creations.

The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, but whatever is seasonal will work best here.

To start, halve or quarter 2 pints of mixed small or cherry tomatoes of varying colours
so that they are all roughly the same size, and place them in a large mixing bowl.

Mix 2 teaspoons za’atar with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, and set aside.

Thinly slice and remove the seeds from ½ a yellow capsicum and peel and thinly slice ½ a small red onion.

To the bowl with tomatoes, add the seeds from 1 pomegranate, sliced capsicum and onion, ⅓ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves and ⅓ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves both torn into pieces, 1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Gently mix the salad, then transfer it to a large shallow bowl or serving platter, and dot with 3 ½ ounces manouri or feta cheese broken into small chunks.

Drizzle the za’atar mixture over the salad, whether you serve it alongside grilled meat, or by itself, enjoy it with great company in the backyard.

Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate Salad