The time for summer salads is here.

We at KP are looking forward to a long and glorious summer ahead with plenty more opportunities to spend time with friends and family, and of course to cook and eat together again.

For us summer means salads. Fresh, exciting and healthy options often direct from the garden or from local producers. It’s the actual taste of sunshine.

When we think of salads of course we think of Gillian Veal of The Parlour Cafe. Gillian helped define and map our journey into cookbooks way back with our first publication – The Parlour Cafe Cookbook.

Portrait of Gillian Veal Kitchen Quiz

Throughout the lockdowns of the last year Gillian continued to express her love of good food and fresh produce through her home delivery Mezze menus which were highly popular and universally well received.

Gillian continues to dedicate a lot of her time to the cafe she runs at Cambo Gardens in Fife, where the focus is on taking fresh, seasonal ingredients direct from the estate’s wonderful gardens and delivering it onto the plate.

We are so excited to be working with Gillian and the team at Gambo Gardens on an amazing new cookbook project about this food journey and this highly creative and organic approach to cooking.

Meanwhile, we thought we would throwback to an inspirational seasonal salad recipe from Gillian’s first book The Parlour Panzanella (Bread Salad) just to whet your appetite for the new book to come and to inspire you on your own personal journey into summer salads.

Enjoy this wonderful salad from The Parlour Cafe Cookbook and over to Gillian now to explain just how you make it.

Parlour Panzanella (Bread Salad)

There are loads of recipes out there for this Italian classic, but this is how we like it. It’s a brilliant dish for using up old bread and other leftovers – try adding some torn up buffalo mozzarella, or some sliced and cooked spicy Tuscan sausage. We roast our own peppers and use our own tomato sauce, but if you are pushed for time you can use shop bought.

Ingredients

1 ciabatta loaf (approx 270g) or any other rustic style bread

1 small red onion, finely sliced

50ml olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

500g tomatoes, diced

1 bunch spring onions, sliced diagonally

2 tablespoons capers

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into strips

1 stick celery, chopped

handful of pitted olives

handful of basil, roughly chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

40ml vinegar (white or red or balsamic or sherry – whatever you fancy or have to hand)

200ml tomato sauce (see page 101)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190ºC.

Tear up the loaf into bite-sized pieces and put on a baking tray with the sliced onion. Toss with the olive oil and oregano and bake for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, put the diced tomatoes, spring onion, capers, pepper, celery, olives, basil and flat leaf parsley in a large serving bowl. Get in there with your hands and mush it all together to get the flavours going and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Take the toasted bread out of the oven and immediately sprinkle on the vinegar – you should hear it sizzle. Tip the contents of the baking tray into the tomato sauce, and then mix through all the other ingredients.

This is good served with either some simply dressed rocket alongside or with rocket mixed through it.

And for those keen to make their own tomato sauce Parlour style. Here’s how to do just that.

Tomato Sauce

This is very useful: you can use it as a simple sauce for pasta, in a vegetarian lasagne, to stuff vegetables, to add to soup or as a pizza sauce. I like to dip good bread in it. It keeps so well in the fridge (about a week) or the freezer (indefinitely) that you may as well make a big batch – it doubles or even triples up really easily. This amount makes about twice what you need for our Aubergine Parmigiana, so you could have that one night and keep the rest for an easy pasta dinner for two some other time. If you have some string, tie the thyme and bay leaves neatly together before putting into the pan, and it will be easier to remove them at the end. And if you like your tomato sauces really garlicky, separate and peel all the garlic cloves before adding them and blend along with everything else at the end.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

1 large carrot, diced

handful of fresh thyme

a few bay leaves

1 whole head of garlic

800g chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g tins)

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ – 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once it’s hot, put in the onions, carrot, thyme, bay leaves and the whole head of garlic and give a good stir, then fry until everything starts to take on a nice golden brown hue. Add the tomatoes, Worcester sauce and half of the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring regularly. 

Turn down the heat to low, half cover and simmer for 1 to 2 hours – the longer the better. Stir every so often to ensure the sauce does not catch and burn. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, the vegetables are absolutely soft and the sauce has deepened in colour and amalgamated nicely, stir in 1½ tablespoons of the red wine vinegar and season with salt. Simmer for a few more minutes and taste, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar or salt if necessary. Leave to cool, then pick out the whole garlic head, thyme and bay leaves before blending the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender.

And enjoy your summer of salads!