Northern Rivers Style - - FOOD -

THIS sim­ple salad is one that I eat again and again; in fact, it has fu­elled me on more days than I can re­mem­ber as I’ve writ­ten this book. It’s full of bright, clear flavours, and is just so in­cred­i­bly sim­ple to make. I keep a jar of the Parme­san dress­ing in the fridge as it lasts well for a week or so, and then just make a serv­ing for one when I have it for lunch. All up it takes me less than 10 min­utes from think­ing about it, to hav­ing it on my plate. Per­fect!

Serves 4


5 – 6 large hand­fuls rocket leaves, stalks trimmed

1 – 2 small red chill­ies, finely chopped

16 finely-cut slices of smoked pancetta

Small chunk Parme­san, for shav­ing over the salad, op­tional Parme­san dress­ing:

½ cup (125 ml) ex­tra virgin olive oil

1 ta­ble­spoon white wine vine­gar

1 clove gar­lic, finely chopped

2 ta­ble­spoons freshly grated Parme­san

½ tea­spoon sea salt


Swish the rocket leaves about in bowl or sink of cool wa­ter to give them a good wash. Drain them in a colan­der, giv­ing it a good shake to re­move as much wa­ter as pos­si­ble, then plop the leaves into the mid­dle of a clean, dry tea towel, and loosely and gently wrap them up. Turn the bun­dle over a cou­ple of times so as much wa­ter as pos­si­ble is ab­sorbed by the tea towel, then gently shake the leaves into a large salad bowl. Sprin­kle chilli over the top, then pop the bowl in the fridge.

Make the dress­ing by com­bin­ing all the in­gre­di­ents in a small­ish bowl, and thor­oughly whisk­ing them to­gether.

Lay the slices of pancetta in a large fry­ing pan then sit the pan over medium heat. Friz­zle the slices for a cou­ple of min­utes, turn­ing them once or twice, un­til they’re golden and done to your lik­ing. Drain them on pa­per towel (if you don’t have a large pan, cook the pancetta in batches.) To put the salad to­gether, pour the dress­ing (you may not need all of it) over the rocket, and gently tum­ble the leaves in it with your hands (wear­ing prep gloves is a good idea). Scoop the rocket into a serv­ing bowl, and dot it with the pancetta strips. Use a vegie peeler to shave strips of Parme­san over the salad, then serve it im­me­di­ately with some good sturdy bread to sop up the very yummy juices.

■ From The Salad Book, by Belinda Jef­fery

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