I’ve got JUST the right thing for you in this heatwave, dear friends – some nice, cool summer salads! When it’s too hot to even think of cooking or eating hot food, you want something light, healthy and easy to do; so I’ve put together here for you my favourite nutritious salads, all very balanced and full of vitamins but also filling and enormously tasty. There’s not much cooking involved, either, so you won’t have to stand in an already hot kitchen for long in order to prepare lunch or dinner!
Ingredients are for 4; if you’re on your own or in a couple, you can do less, of course, but bear in mind that it’s also a great thing to have a ready meal in the fridge for two or three days, and not even having to heat it up! Also, you can do a vegetarian version of them all just as well, simply by leaving out the meats or by substituting them with soy sausages.
Colourful macaroni salad
300g macaroni, 200g sliced ham, 150g sweetcorn (tinned), 150g peas (tinned), 150g sliced or baby carrots (tinned), 250g mixed fruit (tinned), 4-5 tbsp mayonnaise, salt
My favourite summer salad, really filling but still light, a bit exotic and also a feast for the eye with all the different colours! And easy to do, too, because most of the ingredients come out of a tin…
Cook the macaroni for 15 minutes (fusilli are probably the best choice, but you can also use farfalle, penne, rigatoni or any other pasta shape you prefer), then let them cool down in the colander for an hour or so.
Cut the sliced ham into stripes (or slice the soy sausage); then, just open up all the tins – sweetcorn, peas, carrots, and fruit! Throw everything together in a big bowl and add the mayonnaise and salt according to taste (bear in mind that we need more salt than usual during a heatwave because we sweat a lot!); stir well, and your complete nutritious lunch or dinner is ready!
Potato cucumber salad
4 large potatoes, 1 cucumber, 200g sliced ham, ½ stock cube, 4-5tbsp mayonnaise, salt
Another filling but light salad that can be eaten as a main course; the cucumber makes it especially healthy and juicy.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for about an hour, then let them cool down for another hour. Meanwhile, make the stock (beef, chicken or vegetable, whichever you prefer) with 250ml water and the cube and let it cool down.
Peel the potatoes (a peeler comes in very handy here), then slice them (here’s another extremely helpful kitchen tool, a mandolin) and put them in a big bowl. Peel and slice the cucumber as well, preferably into very thin slices (again, the mandolin is a priceless help for this), and add to the potatoes.
Top with the stock and the mayonnaise, season with salt, stir and serve.
A special tip: my great-aunt Leni back in Ingolstadt, Bavaria used to do a real treat version of this salad, with smoked salmon instead of ham – absolutely yummy!!
4 eggs, 200g sliced ham, 200g sliced cheese, 1 tomato, ½ cucumber, French dressing (or mayonnaise), salt
A classic American salad, popular all around the world now, and ideal for getting all your proteins and vitamins without the carbs – if you still want your carbohydrates, a slice of buttered bread is the best accompaniment for this yummy dish.
Boil the eggs for 7-8 minutes, then cool them down in cold water for at least 10 minutes. Cut the cheese and the ham into stripes (it you want your salad vegetarian, you can slice a soy sausage instead), cut or slice the cucumber, cut the tomato into wedges and peel and quarter the eggs and start draping everything nicely into a bowl.
French dressing is ideal, but if you haven’t got any, you can use mayonnaise or, even better, mix mayonnaise in a small bowl with some ketchup and a dash of mustard.
Top the salad with the sauce, add salt to taste, and serve with or without bread.
Swiss sausage salad
250g sliced or cubed cheese, 400g sausages (frankfurters) or sliced ham, 1 onion, dried parsley, oil, vinegar, salt
This is one of the many Mitteleuropean recipes my Mum taught me, low-carb just like chef salad but a bit different in taste due to the traditional oil-vinegar dressing.
You don’t need to cook anything here – just cut the cheese into stripes or cubes, slice the sausages (again, if you want it vegetarian you can use soy sausages) or the ham, slice the onion finely, put everything in a big bowl and season well with oil, vinegar, dried parsley and salt; add 50-100ml cold water to make it juicier and lighter.
This dish is practically carb-free, so if you want to add some carbs serve this salad with a slice or two of buttered bread.
Enjoy your salads, dear friends, and keep cool in this heat!