Peter Gordon's six delicious salad recipes | Salad (2024)


Chilli-roast sweet potatoes, smoked mackerel with beetroot and more delicious recipes from Peter Gordon’s new cookbook.

Peter Gordon, interview by Rachel Cooke

Sun 20 Mar 2016 05.00 EDT

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New Zealand and Britain might be many thousands of miles apart, but when it comes to salad, the two nations remained as one well into the 1980s. Comprising lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and perhaps (if you were really lucky) a little grated cheese or pickled beetroot, such a dish was only ever served with ham or – for the seriously upwardly mobile – chicken. “We used to have ours with a mayonnaise made from condensed milk, malt vinegar and mustard,” says Peter Gordon, the Kiwi chef who has lived in London full-time since 1989. “For years, I thought that was what mayonnaise was.” He grins. “My stepmother would have one head of garlic in the kitchen, and that would last us about a year. She would rub the salad bowl with an unpeeled clove, and then use it again six months later.”

For old time’s sake, Gordon’s new book of salads for all seasons, Savour, includes a recipe for a condensed milk “mayonnaise”, even if he has swapped the mustard for the rather more modish wasabi paste. But, otherwise, it regards the past as another country: no iceberg lettuce, and certainly no grated cheese. In fact, at this point, even a nicely roasted aubergine drizzled in tahini is starting to look a touch last century. This, his eighth book, dishes up a dazzling, Technicolor new world of umeboshi (a salted sour Japanese fruit) and shimeji mushrooms, of jicama (yam beans, apparently) and truffled honey. However, should you be feeling intimidated – what is freekeh again, and how exactly is it different from fregola? – rest assured that there is also a recipe for a couscous and poached salmon number you could probably knock up in your sleep.

“Salad is a main course now,” he says. “But it should still be an achievable thing, something you can rustle up.” His favourite recipe in the book is for burrata and heirloom tomatoes with a mango dressing which, assuming you can get your hands on the relevant ingredients – spongey supermarket toms are not going to cut it here – is the very definition of doable. “It sounds ridiculous. Mangoes don’t grow in Italy, do they? But it comes together with such harmony. It’s delicious.”

Gordon, who brought his still-mourned restaurant the Sugar Club to Notting Hill in 1996, made his name with unlikely combinations; anyone who’s come to dread the word “fusion’ must lay much of the blame at his door, for all that he did it so much better than most (and still does, perhaps: his current restaurant, the Providores, in Marylebone, remains full to bursting every night). “Fusion is everywhere now,” he says. “But back then, it really wasn’t, even in Australia.” As an apprentice chef in Melbourne, his college lecturers, weaned on French sauces, were dismissive of Gordon’s weird ideas, born of the Damascene moment when he tasted silken tofu for the first time; and it was the same when he arrived in London, doing shifts at the likes of Launceston Place in Kensington.

“The whole culture was different then. It was terrible. These awful basem*nt kitchens with no windows, the chefs and the waiters never talking.” In the years between arriving in London and finally opening the Sugar Club – an incarnation of a restaurant he and his then partners had run in Wellington – he learned a lot, the main thing being that “it’s best not to work for arseholes”. No one in Britain had heard of Gordon and his laksa, which was difficult, but perhaps also served only to harden his conviction that one day London would go wild for coconut, daikon and all the rest.

Gordon lives alone in a small, groovy terraced house in London Fields, and you’ve only to take one look at its kitchen to know that he is a chef who loves to cook in his free time as well as in the working day (this isn’t always the case): the counters are laden with bottles and bowls; on the hob is a grenade-like bit of kit in which coffee beans may be roasted over a gas flame. These days, he spends about 20 hours a week at the stove at the Providores, dividing the rest of his time between his other restaurant Kopapa in Covent Garden, Crosstown Doughnuts in Soho, of which he was one of the founders, and his New Zealand restaurants, Bellota and the Sugar Club (mark four). Even so, at least once a week, there’ll be eight people at his table here. Feeding people is in his nature.

Where did it come from, this love for the kitchen? He’s not sure. He grew up in Whanganui, a coastal town on New Zealand’s North Island. His father was an engineer who liked to render his own beef fat. “Everything was cooked in it. I used to hate it. The first time I tasted fish and chips that had been cooked in sunflower oil, it was a revelation.” When he was seven, the family’s deep fat fryer fell on top of him; his burns were so bad, he needed skin grafts. But though this only added to his loathing of the oil inside it, it didn’t put him off cooking: “I lost a year of school, but I honestly have no bad memories of that time.”

It was while hitchhiking through south-east Asia after college that he got interested in the kind of ingredients with which he is now associated. “When I was at the Sugar Club [in Wellington], a Malaysian family used to come in for my laksa. It wasn’t authentic but they loved it.” The owners of the Sugar Club had taken a punt on him, because at this point (1986), he’d never run a kitchen on his own. “They gave me free rein, and I did everything. We made our own bread, chutney, goat’s cheese and we dried our own tomatoes – this was before sun-dried tomatoes became something you don’t talk about.”

In his 50s now, he shows no sign of simplifying his life any time soon. “The portfolio does need … managing,” he says, pulling his fingers through his hair distractedly. “I do want to travel for work less. I started learning the cello, but didn’t have the time for the lessons. But Alastair has this property in the Australian bush that he’s always thought would make a good cookery school, so …” Alastair is his partner, Alastair Carruthers, a leading lawyer and champion of the arts in New Zealand, who is moving to London later this year to be with him, “a huge deal” for them both. Will he always have a restaurant? Yes, of this he’s certain – and likely in London, a city he has come to think of as his own. “I’ve lived here longer than I ever lived in New Zealand. It’s still so exciting to me. Even when it’s hard, it’s a privilege to be here.”

Roast chicken, kumquats, black garlic, kale and avocado

Black garlic is a delicious fermented garlic that adds a lovely treacle-caramel flavour and depth to dishes without a strong raw-garlic aftertaste. It is becoming easier to find, but if you have no luck, you can use regular garlic. Kumquats are great here, too, adding a slight bitterness because you use them unpeeled; if unavailable, substitute thinly sliced lemon, mandarins or oranges. Avocado oil works well in any dish that contains avocado. It has a high burning point, which means it is terrific for roasting and pan-frying.

For 6 as a main: serve warm or at room temperature
boneless chicken thighs 8
black garlic cloves 8, sliced
kumquats 8, unpeeled, thinly sliced
fresh rosemary (or fresh thyme or oregano or a mixture) 2 tsp
sunflower seeds 4 tbsp
avocado oil 2 tbsp
red onion 1 small, thinly sliced into rings
kale 200g, thick stems discarded
avocados 2
lemon juice 2 tbsp
cucumber 1, ends discarded, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.Place the chicken thighs, garlic, kumquats, rosemary and sunflower seeds in a roasting dish. Pour on the avocado oil and 2 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together. Roast, turning the chicken several times while cooking, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden and crispy, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then cut each thigh into four or five slices.

While the chicken is cooking, soak the onion in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, blanch or steam the kale for 3 minutes. Tip it into a colander and, when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can, then coarsely shred it.

Remove the flesh from the avocados and cut into chunks. Mix with the lemon juice to prevent it going brown.

To serve, toss the kale, onion, cucumber and avocado together and lay it on the bottom of a serving dish. Lay the chicken on top then spoon over the contents of the roasting dish.

Crusty baked wasabi mushrooms, spinach, tomato, orange, dill and grated egg

As a child I’d only ever eaten big open field mushrooms sliced and fried in butter or grilled on the barbecue after we’d harvested them ourselves. My father, Bruce, would drive our Chevrolet Impala slowly across various farmers’ fields and me and my siblings would lie on our bellies behind the front seat, with our heads, shoulders and arms out of the car, and pull them out of the ground. Thankfully, Dad was a very safe driver! If you don’t have wasabi to hand, replace it with mustard or horseradish. It’s worth the effort to peel the tomatoes for this salsa, but if you’re short of time you can skip this.

For 4 as brunch; serve warm or at room temperature
portobello mushrooms 8 (about 600g)
butter 70g
garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped
rosemary ½ tsp, finely chopped
wasabi paste 1½ tsp (more or less to taste)
coarse white breadcrumbs (or use Japanese panko crumbs) 150g
tomatoes 3 large, blanched and peeled
oranges 2, peeled and pith removed, segments removed and any juice saved
dill 3 tbsp, coarsely shredded
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
baby spinach or other baby salad leaf 150g
eggs 4 large, soft boiled and peeled

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. If the mushrooms have thick stalks, cut them out and thinly slice. Lay the mushrooms in one or two baking dishes, open side facing up. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat with the garlic, rosemary and sliced mushroom stalks (if using), and cook until the garlic turns golden, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat. Mix the wasabi paste with 1 tablespoon of water to form a slurry and stir into the butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs thoroughly. Spoon this mixture on top of the mushrooms and bake until the crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes.

Cut the tomatoes in half crossways and gently squeeze out the seeds, or use a teaspoon to scoop them out. Cut the tomato flesh into chunks and mix with the orange segments and juice. Add the dill and olive oil, season with salt and coarse black pepper and stir.

To serve, divide the spinach among your plates and sit the mushrooms on top. Spoon on the tomato and orange and then, using a coarse grater, grate the eggs over the top.

Chilli-roast sweet potato, courgettes, roast garlic, hazelnuts and pears

This is one for the middle of the table, although it also makes a tasty starter with goats’ curd dolloped on top, or even some thinly sliced smoked chicken breast. You don’t need to boil the garlic, but it makes it a little more mellow.

For 8 as a side dish; serve warm or at room temperature
garlic 1 head, broken into separate (unpeeled) cloves
sweet potatoes 1kg, skins scrubbed, cut lengthways into wedges
pears 2 large, halved, core removed, cut into thin wedges
red chillies 1 or 2, thinly sliced
rosemary leaves 1 tbsp
olive oil 2 tbsp
sesame oil 2 tbsp
courgettes 3 (around 600g), quartered lengthways
hazelnuts 100g, skins off, roughly chopped
baby spinach 100g (or use large-leaf spinach and coarsely shred it)

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.Put the garlic in a pan, cover with 3cm water and add ½ teaspoon of fine salt. Bring to the boil, then cook over a medium heat until the water has almost evaporated. Drain.

Put the garlic, sweet potatoes, pears, chillies, rosemary, olive oil and half the sesame oil into a roasting dish. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, tossing twice.

Add the courgettes, hazelnuts and remaining sesame oil and toss together, then cook until the pears and sweet potato are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the spinach.

Farro, capers, herb-baked tomatoes, roast carrots and Parmesan

I enjoy farro’s texture and use it in salads such as this, but also serve it mixed with chopped roast cauliflower tossed with tahini and yogurt, or mixed into raw minced beef or lamb to make patties for the barbecue. Roast tomatoes are great at the height of summer when cooking makes them even sweeter, while in cooler months roasting will improve the flavour of hothouse-raised ones.

For 6 as a starter or side; serve warm or at room temperature
farro 300g, rinsed and drained
onion ½, chopped
bay leaf 1
baby capers 3 tbsp
red wine vinegar 2 tbsp
carrots 3, peeled and tops cut off, halved lengthways
extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp
fresh thyme leaves 1 tsp
plum tomatoes 6, halved lengthways
oregano 1 tsp, roughly chopped
rosemary ½ tsp chopped
rocket 2 handfuls
parmesan 50g, shaved with a sharp knife

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Put the farro in a medium pan, cover with 3cm of cold water and add the onion and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of flaky salt after 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, then transfer to a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and mix in the capers and vinegar. Leave to cool.

While the farro is cooking, lay the carrots in a roasting dish, drizzle on 2 tablespoons of the oil and half the thyme, then season with salt and pepper and add 2 tablespoons of water. Roast until cooked, about 30 minutes; you should be able to easily insert a sharp knife through them.

Cut each into five or six pieces on an angle. Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Mix the oregano, rosemary and the remaining thyme and 2 tablespoons of oil and drizzle this on the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk a little and coloured slightly. To serve, toss the rocket loosely through the farro and divide among your plates. Sit the carrots and tomatoes on top, pour on any roasting juices from either and scatter with the parmesan shavings.

Butternut squash with coconut, radicchio, chicory and feta

You could use pumpkin instead of butternut, or even celeriac or parsnips. I cracked open a whole coconut, then used a vegetable peeler to peel strips off it but you can simply use any desiccated coconut. If feta isn’t your thing, then replace it with coarsely grated pecorino, manchego, aged cheddar or parmesan.

For 4 as a starter or 6 as a side; serve warm or at room temperature
butternut squash flesh 600g, cut into large chunks
pumpkin seeds 3 tbsp
cumin seeds ½ tsp
extra virgin olive oil 2½ tbsp
desiccated coconut 40g (or fresh coconut, 100g, shredded)
radicchio ½ head, cut lengthways
white or red chicory 1
feta 125g, crumbled
chives 2 tbsp, snipped
pomegranate seeds from ¼
lemon juice 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3.Put the butternut in a roasting dish with the pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds, 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Season with a little salt (not too much as feta is salty) and black pepper and mix together. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then stir in the coconut. Continue cooking, tossing every 10 minutes, until the butternut has coloured and you can insert a knife through it with little resistance. It should take about 30-45 minutes.

Separate the leaves of the radicchio, discarding the thick white stalks. Tear up the larger ones. Cut the base from the chictory and separate the leaves. Cut the larger leaves in half lengthways.

To serve, simply toss everything together with the remaining olive oil, tasting for seasoning.

Smoked mackerel, beetroot, egg, apple and dill miso mustard dressing

The slightly bitter hints that smoking gives to a piece of fish and a generally sweetish cure is a perfect combination in my view. You can use any smoked fish for this. There are many different styles of miso paste but generally the pale ones, such as shiromiso (white miso), will be sweeter, whereas darker ones, such as hatchomiso, will be more savoury. Taste the dressing to make sure it has a good combination of sweet and savoury.

For 4 as a lunchtime dish; serve warm or at room temperature
beetroot 2 medium
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
lemon juice 2 tbsp
Chioggia (striped) beetroot 1 small, for garnish
smoked mackerel fillets 400g (about 4)
baby salad leaves 1 handful
eggs 4, soft boiled and peeled
apple 1

For the dill mustard dressing
lemon juice 2 tbsp
pale miso paste ½ tsp
grain mustard 1 tsp
English mustard ½ tsp
caster sugar ½ tsp
fresh dill 2 tsp chopped
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Wash any dirt off the two beetroot, then wrap them up together tightly in foil. Place in a roasting dish and bake in the middle of the oven until you can insert a thin sharp knife or skewer through the foil into the centre of the beetroot. This will take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes depending on their size. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Still wearing gloves, unwrap from the foil and then use your fingers, and a small knife if needed, to rub and peel off the skins.

Thickly slice the roast beetroot while still warm and toss with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and salt and pepper, then leave to cool.

Peel the Chioggia beet and slice as thin as possible into rings – a mandoline is ideal. Put in iced water to crisp up.

Make the dressing. Mix the lemon juice into the miso paste to form a slurry. Mix in both mustards and sugar. Finally stir in the dill and the olive oil.

Remove the skin, bones and blood line from the mackerel, then break into chunks. To serve, scatter the salad leaves on four plates. Lay the roast beetroot slices on top, then the mackerel and Chioggia beets. Cut the eggs in half and julienne the apple, discarding the core, and sit these on top. Spoon over the dressing. OFM

Extracted from Savour: Salads for all Seasons by Peter Gordon (Jacqui Small, £25). Click here to order a copy for £20 from Guardian Bookshop


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Peter Gordon's six delicious salad recipes | Salad (2024)


What are the 6 major salad categories? ›

6 Classification of Salads
  • Appetizer Salads.
  • Accompaniment Salads.
  • Main course Salads.
  • Side Dish Salads.
  • Separate Course Salads.
  • Dessert Salads.

What are the 5 types of salads? ›

salad, any of a wide variety of dishes that fall into the following principal categories: green salads; vegetable salads; salads of pasta, legumes, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads.

What is separate course salad? ›

Separate course salads cleanse the palate after a rich dinner and before dessert. This means they refresh or stimulate a person's appetite for the dessert or next course. They are often served in classic French meals. Heavy dressings made with mayonnaise or sour cream should be avoided for separate course meals.

What's in a millionaire salad? ›

  1. 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling.
  2. 1 (8 ounce) carton Cool Whip.
  3. 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk.
  4. 1 (16 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained.
  5. 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges.
  6. 1 cup seedless grapes (optional)
  7. 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  8. 1 cup mini marshmallows.

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