Hurray, it’s time for simple summer food. Healthy salad vegetables are plentiful and a selection of greens, tomatoes, cold meats, stuffed eggs, cheeses or marinated fish are perfect for hot humid days — as well as for the cook. Just add some pickles and a dressing for a fabulous fast food feast.

If I feel the family are tiring of salads then I’ll innovate and introduce rice paper wraps so they can roll up their own choice of salad. Or provide halved capsicums — microwaved to soften slightly — piled with chopped salad veggies and cubed cheese. A hot microwave-baked spud or some chunky wholegrain bread balances the meal.

Watermelon, peas and mint are a great combo especially when served topped with salmon, either smoked or from a can. The salmon provides good omega 3 and the salad is refreshing and energising.


Salad dressings are all about sweet and sour. Oil is the sweet and the vinegar or lemon juice is the sour, and the balance should be just right. I prefer about half-and-half but test the taste by dipping a lettuce leaf into the mixture to evaluate it and then adjust accordingly. Add other seasonings — such as fresh or dried herbs, mustard or horseradish — after the base is prepared.


If marinated buffalo cheese is unavailable, marinate some buffalo mozzarella or other fresh mozzarella in olive oil, crushed garlic, peppercorns and herbs (eg rosemary, thyme, bay leaf) for at least 1 day.

1 cup orecchiette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small chilli seeded and chopped
8 pitted Kalamata olives
150g Clevedon Valley Marinated Buffalo Cheese, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain then refresh under cold water. Drain well.

Combine the olive oil and garlic and add to the pasta in a bowl. Season well and add the capers, cherry tomatoes, chilli and olives. Break the cheese into chunks and dot over the top. Garnish with basil.

The soft marinated buffalo cheese can be stirred into the salad as a dressing. Delish! Serves 2.


Add cooked fine noodles if you wish.

Dressing: 1/3 cup each: lime juice, fish sauce
2 red chillies, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salad: 500g skinned and boned chicken meat, shredded
3 cups shredded cos lettuce
1 cup each: mint leaves, coriander leaves
Topping: 1/2 cup roasted salted cashew nuts

Whisk the dressing ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.

Place the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently to mix. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to combine. Top with the nuts. Serve immediately. Serves 4.


I used leftover cooked rice but you could use a 90-second rice combo and cook in the microwave.

2 cups cooked brown rice with chia, or similar
2 tablespoons Pic’s peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup chopped green beans, cooked
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 red capsicum, seeded and diced
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 shallot, diced
1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Place the rice in a large bowl together with the oils, beans, carrot and capsicum. Season generously. Soak the shallot in the vinegar for a few minutes. Just before serving add to the salad. Serves 2.


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