Welcome summer proper with a Mexican-influenced beetroot and feta salad, and an Italianate take on roast pork
Fri 10 Jun 2016 17.00 BSTLast modified on Tue 9 Jul 2019 09.38 BST
Thomasina Miers’ beetroot, hibiscus and feta salad
Thomasina Miers’ beetroot, hibiscus and feta salad. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
Here are two bright, sharp salads for early summer: the first is a favourite at Wahaca that I’ll happily wolf down at home as a light lunch; the second a citrussy one with soft lettuce that’s perfect for mopping up the anchovy and milk juices from the pork. Both showcase new summer produce and use lots of seasonal herbs. Whenever possible, I’ll eat both outdoors, because almost everything tastes better in the fresh air with the sun on your back.
Beetroot, hibiscus and feta salad
You can buy hibiscus syrup and also the dried leaves online. At Wahaca, we boil the leaves in sugar and water, to make a cranberry-like syrup that is a true Mexican classic and full of vitamin C. Cranberry syrup, or even Ribena, make decent substitutes. Serves four.
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4 medium beetroot
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful thyme branches
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 small handful pumpkin seeds
2 large bags watercress (or baby spinach), washed and dried
1 handful fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
For the pickled onion
1 red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
½ scotch bonnet chilli, very finely chopped (or 1 normal red chilli)
For the dressing
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
½ tsp soft brown sugar
50g hibiscus syrup (see introduction)
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Rub the beetroot all over in oil, season generously and wrap tightly in foil with the thyme branches, orange zest and half the juice. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until tender, then put on a pair of rubber gloves and rub off the skin while still warm.
When the beets are in the oven, put the onion in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10 seconds. Drain, mix with the rest of the orange juice, the lime juice and chilli, season generously and use your hands to scrunch the onion in its marinade. Put in the fridge for at least half an hour, ideally an hour.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Cut the warm beets into wedges and toss in the dressing. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan until they start to pop. Scatter the watercress over a large platter, top with the beets, crumbled feta, pickled onions and tarragon, and serve with fresh bread, crostini or crisp tortillas.
Pork osso bucco, anchovy milk, sage and lemon zest with a lettuce and pea salad
Thomasina Miers’ pork osso bucco
Thomasina Miers’ pork osso bucco. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
This classic Italian treatment of pork loin also works on the fattier, tastier osso bucco, especially when partnered by a lemony pea and butter leaf salad. Serves four to six.
3 tbsp olive oil
1.25kg bone-in pork osso bucco pieces (ideally from the thick centre of the shin)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 banana shallots, peeled and halved
10 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
10 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 lemon, peel taken off in thin strips, and white pith removed
10 sage leaves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
3 bay leaves
250ml white wine
About 1 litre whole milk
For the salad
125g fresh (or frozen and defrosted) podded peas
2 heads butter lettuce, separated
1 handful each mint and parsley leaves, roughly chopped
A few sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked and chopped
1 small banana shallot, peeled and finely minced
½-1 tbsp Dijon mustard, to taste
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large casserole on a medium-high flame. Season the pork all over, brown in the hot oil (in batches, if need be), then lift out of the pan.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the remaining oil, the shallots and garlic, and fry, stirring occasionally, until they start to colour slightly. Add the anchovies and squish them into the hot fat so they break down, then add the lemon peel, sage, thyme and bay. Fry gently for a minute, then pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Leave to bubble for a couple of minutes, then turn down the heat, return the pork to the pot and add enough milk just to cover. Season again (remember that the anchovies are already salty), then cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an hour and a half to two hours more, until the meat is very soft and tender. The sauce should have reduced nicely by now, but if not, take out the meat and leave the pan juices to bubble and thicken over a medium-high heat. It may end up looking a bit curdled, but don’t worry – it tastes fantastic. Keep warm while you make the salad.
Bring a small pan of water to a boil, blanch the peas for three minutes, then drain and refresh in cold water. Tip into a salad bowl with the lettuce and herbs, and season generously. Whisk together the minced shallot, mustard, vinegar and olive oil, then pour over the salad and toss. Squeeze over the juice of half the zested lemon and serve alongside the pork pieces with the sauce spooned over.
And for the rest of the week…
Any leftover pork and salad make a mouth-watering filling crammed inside a lunchtime baguette. Whizz up any excess herbs with a few anchovies and a tablespoon of capers, transfer to a jar, cover with oil and keep in the fridge as a standby salsa verde to go with grilled fish, peppers, fennel, courgettes or aubergines; it’s also very good stuffed under the skin of a chicken before roasting. Make double the amount of pickled onions: they keep well, and add flavour to slow-cooked meats. Leftover hibiscus syrup makes a cooling soft drink with fresh lime; it’s also great mixed into prosecco and margaritas.