coriander | The Proof of the Pudding

This week we’re all about salads. But never fear, these are not limp salad leaves topped with a sad halved cherry tomato and slice of cucumber, nor an uninspiring pile of shredded iceberg lettuce. These are fresh, vibrant, interesting salads that are bursting with flavour and made for summer eating.

Today’s recipe is a sweetcorn salad. It’s sweet from corn and cherry tomatoes, savoury from onion and pepper, fragrant from coriander and zingy from lime juice. The dish can take on different guises, as the name suggests: keep the ingredients chunky as I did in order to serve it as a salad, or finely chop everything to turn it into a delicious salsa which could be served with tortilla chips. If you feel like something spicier then some finely chopped red chilli would be an excellent addition.

Ingredients 250g frozen sweetcorn 150g cherry tomatoes 6 spring onions Small bunch of coriander 1 red bell pepper 1 lime 1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method 1. Remove the sweetcorn from the freezer and allow to defrost at room temperature for a few hours. Quarter the tomatoes, chop the spring onion into small pieces and finely chop the coriander. If you forget about the red pepper (read: I forgot to buy a red pepper) then just chop it into squares and add to the salad later!

This dish is the ideal side dish for a barbecue. The first time I made it we had it with chicken marinated in my homemade barbecue sauce and sticky glazed sausages, and the second was as part of a Spanish meal alongside barbecued paella and some small tapas dishes. It would transport well in a tupperware tub for a picnic, or, as I suggested above, chop it finely and serve as a starter. I think this just might be my new favourite summer salad!

Bread can be a little scary. The combination of yeast, kneading, proving and shaping can seem daunting, but for some reason I have always been able to handle naan bread. Maybe it’s the fact that it only needs one prove, the ease in shaping at the end, or just the delicious results that encourage me.

I spent yet another day waiting in for new-flat-related visits (this time for the washing machine engineer) and so instead of serving up rice with our curry that night, I made the effort to do naan breads. And actually, such little effort it was. I haven’t made naans for a while and had forgotten just how easy they are. I used this recipe from BBC Food, but decided to take it that extra mile with some flavoured butter on top. Ross’ dad, the king of naans, always grills his with butter and they end up looking amazing, so I thought I’d give it a go myself. Naughty, I know, but worth it. Ross and I eat enormous amounts of garlic, so maybe just use ½-1 clove if you’re not as obsessed as we are. It does keep the vampires away though.

Ingredients (makes 2 small naans) ½ tsp dried active yeast ½ tsp sugar ½ tbsp warm water 100g plain flour ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp baking powder ½ tbsp sunflower oil 1 tbsp natural yogurt

1 tbsp milk

30g butter, softened 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped Small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Method 1. Mix the yeast with the sugar and warm water and leave somewhere warm for 5 minutes.

2. Measure out the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.

3. Add the yogurt, milk and oil and mix with a wooden spoon.

4. Add the yeast mixture and mix well. Tip the “dough” out onto your work surface – just now it will be a very crumbly texture.

5. Bring the dough together into a ball. This may take a while, but stick at it, I promise it will work. Keep kneading for 10 minutes until you have a smooth dough.

6. Place the ball of dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with cling film and a dish cloth or towel. Leave in a nice warm place for 1-2 hours to allow the dough to rise. 7. Meanwhile mash the soft butter with the garlic and coriander and season to taste.

8. Once your dough has risen, cut in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface. I don’t yet have a rolling pin so used a full soda water bottle, but a wine bottle does the trick just as well!

9. Grill the naans on high (about 180C) for a few minutes on one side, then turn and spread with the flavoured butter. Pop them back under the grill for a couple of minutes until the butter is bubbling.

Serve with your curry of choice – we had chicken and mushroom.

A word of warning: this makes two small naans. Definitely enough as a side to a weekday meal, but if you’re feeding more than 2, or have a big appetite then make sure you increase the quantities. Ross’ one comment on the dish (“feedback for next time”, apparently) was “bigger”. So I guess we’re on to a winner…