I don’t know about you, but when the temperature starts to crank up, my appetite does the opposite. During Winter I can happily spend hours in the kitchen making rich stews and heart warming roast dinners, but as soon as the Summer hits all I want is something quick, light, easy and to avoid the oven at all costs. The thought of eating a huge meal just puts me off.
Summer is well and truly upon us, the heatwave may be over but we still have a few weeks left of warmer weather before our the colours of the trees fade and we switch to wearing jumpers. With this in mind, I have come up with a few salad ideas for you and what better way to enjoy the warm weather with a beautiful bottle of wine to match?!
Watermelon, mint and feta salad
This salad is super easy and totally refreshing. Just chop up a fresh watermelon (seedless are easier and keep it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold) into bite size pieces and zest/juice one lime over it. Finely chop up 2 or 3 spring onions, tear up a bunch of mint and throw it in a bowl with the watermelon. Crumble over some beautiful feta cheese, mix it all together and dive in! This can work on its own or as a side dish with a BBQ (big juicy grilled prawns would be EPIC). You can also add some toasted hazelnuts if you can stand the heat from the oven.
I matched this salad with a sparkling rosé from Brazil, the Miolo Cuvee Tradition Brut Rosé NV which has a gorgeous rose pink hue. The grapes are chardonnay and pinot noir, and it has a very fine mousse (that’s bubbles to most people – my WSET lingo coming in to play here) with notes of strawberry and cherry. It also feels slightly creamy but keeps balanced with the fresh lemony acidity. It is only 12% ABV so it’s a perfect aperitif too! Miolo is Brazil’s number one producer and luckily the UK is picking up that they are pumping out some really great wines, especially the sparkling variety and in the region of Campanha, so watch out for it in your specialised wine shops. If you can’t get your hands on Brazilian fizz, then any sparkling rosé will suffice – just drink what you love.
Peach, rocket and goats cheese salad
The key to this salad are the peaches – you need to get those beautiful white flat peaches that are perfectly in season now, that have wonderful sweet honey characteristics. It is worth paying a bit more money for them as they are the key to this dish and I get mine from either Waitrose or Lemon and Limes in Chiswick.
So depending on how many people you are making the salad for, I like to say a peach or two per person, cut them into slices and put in a bowl with a bag of rocket and some chopped up salted almonds. Dress the salad with a glug of olive oil, a couple of teaspoons of red wine vinegar, one teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper and then mix thoroughly together. Serve on a large plate and crumble over some soft goats cheese and some roughly chopped flat leaf parsley.
It really is so quick to put together and the salty almonds and tangy goats cheese marry together harmoniously with those scrumptious peaches…but now onto the important part, what to drink with it!
I paired this salad with a crisp and refreshing vermentino from Sardegna, the Poderi Parpinello Ala Blanca DOC 2017 which comes from a family run estate and winery who strive to maintain the Sardinian terroir with gentle sloped vineyards between Alghero and Sassari in the North West of the island. It has ripe melon, lime and pineapple on the nose with the classic bitter almond and spicy finish on the palate. No oak is used so the varietal characteristics of the vermentino grape are maintained, They also use modern winemaking techniques combined with traditional farming methods resulting in very high quality wines with intense flavours. The tropical notes of the wine combined with the juicy peaches and salted almonds in the salad are, for me, a perfect match.
You could also devour this fresh salad with a classic chenin blanc from the Loire, the high acidity in the wine would cut through the creamy goats cheese and the sweetness from the peaches.
When I am looking for something special I buy all my wine from the wonderful Mallek who runs Askew Wines, he is a fountain of knowledge and genuinely wonderful.
So there is a little food for thought to get you through these hot summer evenings, and hopefully a little inspiration for you to open something a little bit different than the provencal rosé…enjoy!