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The salad days of summer

Learning how to make a terrific salad is a skill. crack

Become a salad pro with our easy-to-follow tips and recipes.

As soon as summer looms, those party invitations start plopping through the door. Suddenly you're expected to look bronzed, healthy and slim while holding a glass of fizz and not dropping your canapes.

This is where the gift of salad comes in.

In order to stay trim, many party-goers will live off iceberg lettuce, tomato and a Sauvignon blanc from May until September. But if this combination leaves you feeling faint, remember there's more than one way to toss a salad.

Here are five basic salad recipes to get you started...

Chop Salad (Serves 4)

For the salad:

1 iceberg lettuce
410g red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and diced
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 jalapeno chilli (optional), finely sliced
Corn chips, to garnish
Sour cream (optional), to serve

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 1/2 limes
3tbsp olive oil

Cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and put them into a large salad bowl. Add the beans, avocado, tomatoes and onion with the coriander and chilli (if used). Mix all the ingredients together. Make the dressing by whisking together the lime juice and oil. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix lightly to combine. Garnish with lightly-crushed corn chips and serve with sour cream.

Potato Salad (Serves 4-6)

1kg new potatoes
125g smoked streaky bacon
1tsp vegetable oil
6 spring onions
175ml mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Halve the potatoes and cook in lightly-salted boiling water until tender. Rinse under cold water and leave to cool. Meanwhile, slice the bacon into thin strips. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon
until golden, drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool. Finely slice the spring onions, reserving some for garnish. Put the potatoes, finely-sliced spring onions and bacon in a large salad bowl. Gently stir
in the mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the reserved spring onions and serve.

Greek Salad Serves 2

For the salad:

1/2 cucumber
4 plum tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1/2 red onion
60g pitted olives
50g feta cheese, diced

For the dressing:

4tbsp olive oil
1tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Cut the cucumber and tomatoes into 1-2cm chunks and put them in a large salad bowl. Cut the pepper flesh into thin strips and put them in the bowl with the cucumbers and tomatoes. Finely slice the red onion and add to the bowl with the olives. Make the dressing by whisking the oil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss carefully. Transfer to serving bowls, scatter some feta evenly over each bowl and serve.

Garden Salad (Serves 4)

For the salad:

1/2 cucumber
250g cherry tomatoes
250g baby leaf mix, such as mizuna, baby chard, lollo rosso, purslane and oak-leaf lettuce
1 avocado
50g pitted black olives

For the dressing:

1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel and slice the cucumber and halve the tomatoes. Mix the salad leaves with the cucumber and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Stone and peel the avocado, cut into cubes and add to the bowl with the olives. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, vinegar and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss carefully to combine and serve.

Chickpea and Herb Salad (Serves 4)

100g bulgur wheat
4tbsp olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1tbsp chopped mint
400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
1tbsp chopped mild onion
100g cucumber
150g feta cheese
Salt and pepper

Put the bulgur wheat in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over, just enough to cover. Set aside until the water has been absorbed. If you want a fluffier finish, transfer it to a steamer and steam for five
minutes. Spread on a plate to cool. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and mint in a large salad bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, onion and bulgur wheat.

Dice the cucumber and add to the bowl. Mix well and add the diced feta, stirring lightly to avoid breaking up the cheese. Serve immediately.