Summer is perfect for salads and many meals I make in this season revolve around a salad. It is easy, though, to slip into boring salad mode and turn out a perfectly nice, but ho-hum garden salad, just because it’s what first comes to mind. It’s no more effort to do something with a bit more creativity, it just needs an good idea. This salad brings together peppery, nutty, sweet and caramel flavours and some lovely contrasting textures, with Pink Lady apple as the star ingredient. There’s hardly anything to it, but it just works really well. It’s worth buying an unctuous, high quality aged balsamic vinegar for your pantry. It has such sweetness, complexity and depth of flavour and a little bit goes a long way.
120g mixed baby spinach and rocket leaves
1 Pink Lady apple
juice of 1/2 a lemon
50g shaved parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
Thinly slice the apple horizontally, and then into thin slivers. (At our place we have a wicked gadget that my son uses to do this task. I’m too scared I’ll chop my fingers off.) Place the apple slivers with the lemon juice in a small bowl and toss around to coat the apple with the juice. This is just so the apple won’t discolour. Pile the salad leaves on a serving platter and top with the apple and parmesan. Toss gently and then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar – if you have a theatrical bent I advise madly flinging the bottle around over the salad a la Jackson Pollock – and serve right away.