Hot and Cold Salad

This special salad is wonderful for a summer lunch, and I like to serve it with smoked fish or cold poached chicken. The hot and cold effect, part raw and part cooked, brings out much more flavour than a salad would normally have. Shiitake mushrooms, when available, are ideal.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (½ lb) dwarf green beans, topped and tailed
  • 125 g (4 oz) chestnut mushrooms, sliced not too thinly
  • 1 small radicchio
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 8–10 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 25 g (1 oz) pine kernels
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Method

Steam or boil the beans until just tender but still with a slight crunch to them. Drain and leave on one side. Add the sliced mushrooms to the beans. Separate the leaves of the radicchio and of the Little Gem lettuce and arrange alternately around the outside of a fairly shallow large serving bowl or dish.

Very shortly before you want to eat, put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the finely chopped garlic and stir around for 30 seconds or so.

Add the cooked beans and the mushrooms to the frying pan and stir around for 2–3 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Season well with crushed sea salt and plenty of black pepper, then turn the mixture, including any oil and juices, into the serving bowl or dish surrounded by the lettuce leaves. Stir the sliced basil leaves roughly into the hot green bean and mushroom mixture.

Put the empty frying pan back over a high heat and stir the pine kernels in it for a minute or so just to brown them, then scatter the pine kernels on to the salad. Dribble the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil all over the salad, including the lettuce leaves, followed by the sherry vinegar. Serve as soon as possible.

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