Nigel Slater’s summer salad recipes
e draped old sheets over the kitchen skylights in an attempt to shield ourselves from the sun (I knew they would come in useful one day). We dug out the old Indian fan that cooled us as we cooked, but blew icing sugar over the counters. We drank elderflower cordial and, when the day’s work was done, long icy cocktails. Yet the most effective way of cooling down this summer was found in a pair of salads that took advantage of drippingly ripe fruit – papaya and a golden fleshed cantaloupe melon – thoroughly chilled and tossed with salty, sharp and bright dressings.
I often include fruit in main-course salads in high summer. Chilled watermelon, mango or papaya are my first choice. As we embark on the long slow slide into autumn I would add ice-cold grapes to that list, too. The trick is to make sure the fruit is ripe and to marry it with ingredients that are either spicy – chillies or ginger – or salty, such as Thai fish sauce or bacon. Ingredients that intensify the refreshing quality of the fruit (whoever hit on the idea of serving Parma ham with melon or watermelon with feta knew what they were doing).