Debbie, my cousin's wife, is always straightforward. When she saw the rice salad in the middle of the table she immediately said: "Sorry, I don't eat rice". I'm pleased to say that by the end of the meal she'd had three helpings! It was a lovely summer afternoon with lots of family, Rob and Debbie and us. We put two long tables together in the garden, and there's my niece Juliana, so I know we were having 10-hour lamb.
Brown basmati rice, just tender and allowed to cool, obviously. Add the vegetables in more or less equal amounts. Diced carrots, chopped spring onions, chopped celery, radish, lots of parsley, peppers, cucumber, tomato, you can add a handful of cooked lentils, but rinse them - and not too many because they do spoil the lovely clean white freshness of the salad.
The dressing is olive oil, some lemon and plenty Hellmans, pepper and salt. Mix. Add some more Hellmans, allow to stand for a bit, and serve.
An unusual green salad is a huge bunch of coriander, chopped. Sliced avocado pear, sprinkle with lightly toasted pine nuts, oil and a touch of lemon. Salt, pepper. Excellent.
Tomato and onion salad
This we probably eat every evening during the summer. Big platter. Sliced tomatoes all out flat. Thin sliced onion rings all over. Salt, quite a lot. I use that flaky Malvern salt. Pepper, and lots of olive oil. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes. Soak up the juice with crusty bread.
Becky's veggie kebabs
We had a barbie the first weekend Bexie came home: truly, it was if she'd been away a year. She offered to make vegetable kebabs. They sounded divine, and I couldn't resist getting involved as they were my first ever kebabs. We used chunks of red onion, red, yellow and green peppers - all the peppers, zucchini and big white mushrooms, halved. She marinated the veggies in steak-and-chops (but one of those hot herb rubs would be good too) with a little oil for an hour, then we threaded the soaked kebab sticks. This was the most fun, and as they stacked up on the platter, they looked absolutely beautiful. The colours! We roasted them over the fire (Weber) till just charred, and they were the star of the show.
A staple from my childhood, one of my favourites. This is how I do it: Boil the potatoes very gently in their skins.When they are just cooked, allow to cool, peel and cut into chunks. Add lots of chopped spring onion and also white onion, mixed. Add parsley, chives and chopped gherkins. For the dressing, mix a lot of Hellmans with a giant teaspoon of dry English mustard and a big dollop of double cream (being a party salad). Mix the mustard mayonnaise into the potatoes, then lots of salt and pepper. Chopped hard-boiled eggs on top is good.