At this time of the year, I’m thinking ahead to the colour and vibrancy of new season salads. I love the transition of seasons, and the chance to marvel at the new arrivals at the farmer’s market.
This week’s recipe is a Spring ratatouille salad, but it could easily be an autumnal ratatouille salad (for those in the southern hemispheres). Along with ratatouille regulars eggplant and zucchini, I’ve added some spring time verve in the form of radishes, asparagus, spring onions and fennel (for those in Australia, I think brussels sprouts and turnips would be ah-mazing!). I’m very excited about this recipe because it features a great mid-week cooking hack - I’ve used a high quality bottled tomato sauce to create this zesty, punchy, full-flavoured dressing. I’m seriously patting myself on the back for this dressing because it’s truly DELICIOUS! To be fair, Lucini Italia’s Fresh Organic Tomato Sauces are not your average bottled sauce. They are sugar-free, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Lucini's sauces taste like real tomatoes, which could have something to do with the fact that their tomatoes are grown on one of Italy’s first organic farms and travel from field to jar in less than 24 hours.
Working as a brand ambassador for Lucini Italia has really sparked my imagination. It’s so much fun to think of new and exciting ways to use everyday kitchen essentials. This is a great weeknight salad recipe - it’s as simple as combining your favourite new season veggies with the best bottled tomato sauce you can find. Another essential item to add to your larder.
Spring ratatouille salad with herby French lentils
During cookout season, chargrill your veggies on the BBQ!
2 small (350g) zucchini, sliced into 1cm chunks
2 small or 1 large (500g) eggplant, peeled in stripy pattern + sliced and cut into 1cm chunks
6 radishes, trimmed + cut into 1cm slices
1 baby (180g) fennel, thinly sliced
200g asparagus (about ½ bunch), trimmed + cut into 5cm pieces
2 spring onions, white part quartered
handful of soft herbs (dill, chives, parsley etc)
handful of goats cheese, to serve (optional)
1/2 cup (150g) French lentils
extra virgin olive oil
big handful of parley, dill, scallions, chives etc
3/4 cup good quality bottled tomato sauce (such as Lucini Italia Fresh Organic Sauces)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp sugar
8 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
sea salt and black pepper
Cook lentils in a large pot of salted water. Finely chop the herbs. While the lentils are still warm, add the oil and herbs. Season with sea salt.
In a large fry pan (or your outdoor BBQ or grill), heat some oil and, all in separate batches, panfry your zucchini, eggplant, radish, fennel, asparagus, and spring onions. Season each batch with sea salt and cook until caramelized but not mushy.
To make the dressing, whisk together the tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, oil, garlic, and sugar. When combined, stir in the olive and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Combine the tomato dressing with the vegetables. Spoon the lentils onto a serving platter and top with the tomatoey veggies. To serve, scatter with soft herbs, and scatter with goats cheese (optional)