Looking for simple summer salad recipes?

Chef Theo Randall gives us his best summer recipes...

Salad landscape
Salad landscape
(Image credit: Rex)

Chef Theo Randall gives us his best summer recipes...

Try these easy-peasy delicious salads this summer.

Farro salad 30 minutes plus soaking and cooling

Farro is a type of wheat grain that has been used in Italian cookery for centuries, and this salad is a staple in Puglia. Sweet, chewy farro is lovely with the tomatoes and parsley. It is very important that you cook the farro al dente otherwise the salad will lack texture.

Serves 4 for lunch or supper

- 200g farro, soaked for 2–3 hours and drained - 1 small white onion, peeled - 2 tbsp red wine vinegar - 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - 4 anchovy fillets (packed in oil), finely chopped - 1 tbsp small capers in vinegar, drained - 200g Datterini or baby plum tomatoes - 1 small cucumber - 1 x 400g jar or can cannellini beans, drained (rinse if canned) - small bunch of mint, chopped - small bunch of basil, chopped - sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Bring 2 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the soaked farro and cook for 15 minutes until tender but not too soft. Drain and set aside to cool.

2) While the farro is cooking, grate the onion into a large bowl. Add the vinegar and olive oil and stir to mix. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the anchovies and capers.

3) Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds; set aside. Coarsely grate the cucumber into a colander, add a pinch of salt and toss to mix.

4) When the farro is cool, squeeze the grated cucumber in a tea towel to remove excess moisture. Add the cucumber to the bowl along with the farro, tomatoes, beans and herbs.Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.

Tagliata di manzo 20 minutes

This is a great way to serve a seared piece of fillet. The crusting of the thyme and sea salt on the outside gives it a lovely flavour and texture. Being such a simple dish, it is all about good ingredients – the tomatoes should be sweet and the Parmesan fresh. If you have some good balsamic vinegar, use it on this because it will work really well with the other ingredients.

Serves 4

- 1 x 500g piece of beef fillet (tail) - 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - 1 tsp chopped thyme - 150g Datterini or cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters - 100g wild rocket - juice of 1/2 lemon - 1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar - 75g Parmesan cheese shavings - sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Rub the fillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle over the thyme and season with salt and pepper. 2) Heat a heavy frying pan. Add the fillet and cook for 3–4 minutes, turning frequently to ensure an even searing that gives the meat a browned crust. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 3 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes and rocket in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Season to taste. Toss gently together, then spread the rocket and tomatoes on a large plate.

4) Thinly slice the beef and arrange on top of the rocket and tomatoes. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the beef and add a grinding of black pepper. Finish with the Parmesan shavings.

Puntarelle 15–20 minutes I start asking my supplier when the puntarelle is coming into season a good month before it does, as I am always keen to make this most delicious salad. The slightly bitter winter chicory with the anchovy, garlic and vinegar dressing is highly addictive. It’s traditionally served as a side dish with fish or meat, but I like it as a starter. Only the tender puntarelle spears are eaten – the base or core is hard and woody and needs to be trimmed off. Italians are lucky enough to buy ready-prepared puntarelle in markets in season.

Serves 2

- 1 head puntarelle, about 500g - 1 garlic clove, peeled - 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt - 6 anchovy fillets (packed in oil) - 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar - pinch of chilli flakes - 75ml good extra virgin olive oil - 1 teaspoon small capers in vinegar, drained - freshly ground black pepper

1) Remove any dark green leaves from the puntarelle, then cut the spears from the central core. Cut each spear lengthways into thin strips. Place them in a bowl of iced water and leave for 5 minutes, then remove and dry in a tea towel or salad spinner.

2) Make the dressing while the puntarelle is in the iced water. Pound the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle. Add the anchovies and pound to a paste. Add the vinegar and chilli flakes and pound to emulsify. Stir in the olive oil, then season with black pepper.

3) Put the puntarelle in a bowl. Add the dressing and capersand toss to mix, then serve.

Panzanella 30 minutes at least

I don’t know anyone who doesn't love this salad. It’s a traditional Italian way to use up leftover bread. There are other versions, but this is a very simple way to make it. If you only have very soft, fresh bread, try baking it for a few minutes to harden it – then it will absorb the dressing without going soggy.

Serves 4 as a starter

- 2 red peppers - 1 loaf of dry ciabatta bread - 300g heritage tomatoes, preferably of mixed colours - 1 heaped tsp small capers in vinegar, drained - a few anchovy fillets (packed in oil) For the dressing - 400g ripe plum tomatoes - 1 garlic clove, peeled - 5 anchovy fillets (packed in oil) - small bunch of basil - 150ml extra virgin olive oil - 2 tsp red wine vinegar - 1 heaped tsp small capers in vinegar, drained - sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1) Preheat a hot grill, then char the red peppers on all sides. Put them in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before scraping off the charred skin with a serrated knife. Rinse off the seeds, then rip the peppers into 1cm strips. Set aside. 2) Make the dressing while the peppers are cooling in the bowl. Score the skin of the tomatoes, then put them into a pan of boiling water and leave to blanch for 1 minute. Lift into a bowl of cold water with a slotted spoon, then peel off the skins. Crush the garlic with 1 teaspoon sea salt in a pestle and mortar until smooth. Add the anchovies and half the basil, pounding to a paste. Squeeze the peeled tomatoes to a pulp, then add to the garlic and anchovies. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar and capers. Mix well together. 3) Remove the crusts from the ciabatta, then cut into 2cm pieces. Put them in a large salad bowl and add the grilled peppers. Pour over the anchovy and tomato dressing and toss well so the bread can soak up all the dressing. 4) Roughly cut up the heritage tomatoes and toss with the rest of the basil leaves in a separate bowl. Spread the tomatoes and basil over the top of the salad, then add the capers and a few whole anchovy fillets. Clean up the sides of the bowl before serving.

Warm chicken liver salad 35-40 minutes

I like to use dandelion leaves in this warm salad. If you have some dandelions in your garden, don’t just dig them up. As long as you haven’t sprayed them with a pesticide, pick the young, tender leaves, which are pleasantly bitter. There’s no need to blanch them by covering as they do in France. If you’re worried about cats and foxes visiting your garden, just wash the leaves in a Milton solution. Serves 4 as a starter or 2 for supper - 100g Castelluccio or Puy lentils - 250g fresh chicken livers - 100g sliced pancetta - leaves from 1 sprig of sage - 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar - 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - 1 lemon - 250g mixed leaves, such as dandelion, radicchio, rocketor Castelfranco - sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1) Cook the lentils in a pan of simmering water for 20–25minutes until soft. 2) Meanwhile, trim off any greenish bits and visible sinew from the chicken livers, then set aside. Cook the pancetta in a frying pan until crisp. Remove with tongs and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Add the chicken livers to the fat remaining in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown all over. Remove from the heat. 3) Return the pancetta to the pan (don’t worry if the slices break up) along with the sage leaves. Add 1 tablespoonof the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together, then set aside. 4) When the lentils are cooked, drain off the water. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and seasoning. 5) In a large bowl, toss the leaves with the remainingbalsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add the lentils and mix gently together. 6) Pile the lentils and leaves on the plates and place the chicken livers and pancetta carefully on top.

Find these and more recipes in My Simple Italian, by Theo Randall

Theo is a guest chef on S.Pellegrino’s ‘Live in Italian’ terrace on the Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Terrace until 7th August. 

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