salads can be such a disappointment. if each of your ingredients isn’t full of flavour, or the dressing is to sharp, or the mix of flavours and textures not thought through, then you can end up with a difficult dish to eat – it never ceases to amaze me how hard it can be to work my way through a plate of salad!
thankfully the opposite is also true and with a bit of imagination and effort summer salads are truly wonderful. for me i find that the secret to success is often in the dressing or something similar which brings the flavours together. basil oil is an example of such a star ingredient, and not just in salads (see below for recipes which use it).
in this dish the secret to success was the decision not to add cherry tomatoes to the salad but to lightly cook them with garlic and then stir in olive oil and lemon juice to make a rich tomato and garlic dressing. this really bought everything together in a way that a vinaigrette wouldn’t have managed. it was also a good excuse to add some pasta to bulk out the salad.
salmon and avocado pasta salad with tomato and garlic dressing (serves 3-4)
1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper
200g peppered salmon*, flaked
250g cooked pasta, i used penne
2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
heat the olive oil and gently fry the garlic until you start to smell it. add the tomatoes and cook until they start to collapse. remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. add extra olive oil until you get a salad dressing with the balance of flavours which you like (i tend to use c1/3 lemon juice and 2/3 olive oil). season to taste and set aside.
assemble your salad – mix the salmon and pasta together with the tomato and garlic dressing. add the avocado and rocket.
* i used a fabulous sainsbury’s taste the difference vacuum-packed salmon which had been cooked and topped with a layer of (i think) crushed pink peppercorns and chilli. this was jam packed with flavour and worth tracking down if you can. if not use any sort of cooked salmon or even peppered mackerel.
recipes with basil oil: