“Everything was perfect, except for the food. That was beyond mere words.” – Mattimeo
It may be mid-August, but it’s still summer. I live in Georgia, which means it’s going to be summer for at least another month. I bring this up because when it’s over ninety degrees out with 70 to 80% percent humidity, the last thing you want to eat is something piping hot.
So when The Devil Wears Salad asked me to submit a recipe for this month’s Salad Gazette ezine, I figured this would be a perfect time to break out the Brian Jacques books. Because if anyone knows how to serve veggies on a hot day, it’s the creatures of Redwall Abbey!
Click here to skip to the recipes for:
Friar Hugo’s Summer Salads
“Salads of twelve different types, ranging from beetroot to radish, right through many varieties of lettuce and including fennel, dandelion, tomato, young onion, carrot, leek, corn — every sort of vegetable imaginable, cut, shredded, diced, or whole.” – Mattimeo
Just when I thought it impossible to find a dang salad in a fantasy novel, Brian Jacques delivers. Twelve different kinds of salads — I know I’m missing eight with this post. But oh no, you have MORE RECIPES to look forward to over the next two summers.
That said, we’re not going to cover the standard iceberg drenched in dressing found in most American chain restaurants. No, I think salad deserves a much better rep than that. With such a variety of flavors, colors, and textures, their potential lies in their construction, not just the sauce they’re wearing.
But to get us started, let’s start with something that looks familiar.
Sing for your Salad!
If you plan to cook the recipes off the site, keep scrolling. While access to recipes on the blog will always be free, I now have printable PDF recipe cards and thematic cook-along Spotify playlists as rewards for those who choose to support the blog.
The printable recipe cards and playlist for Friar Hugo’s Summer Salads will be available as a $2 donor reward on my Ko-Fi page until the next post goes up.
You can instead join my Patreon community at the “Sing for your Supper” level ($1/month) for access to the playlists or the “It’s All in the Cards” level ($5/month) or higher for access to ALL of my blog recipe cards and playlists. Patrons of all reward tiers will even receive a welcome gift of my Lord of the Rings recipe cards and playlists from January 2019 to get you started.
Redwall Radish Salad
This first dish looks like the standard greens with stuff and dressing. Look again, though. Salads don’t always need lettuce.
The word salad itself drives from the french word salade, which comes from the Latin herba salata, meaning salted greens. Salata, meaning “salted,” refers to the practice of seasoning vegetables with brine or with salty oil and vinegar mixtures.
So technically, it can be any greens as long as they’re edible. And how do you make a salad more interesting without just dumping a ton of brine and sugar on it? Use flavorful greens, I say! This first salad uses both the root and the greens on red radishes and blends those spicy bites with bitter beet greens and cooling peppermint and dill.
We then sweeten the mix with honey, aromatic leek, earthy sherry vinegar, and fresh pitted cherries. Finally, goat cheese marries all that crunch together with some tangy creaminess.
Redwall Radish Salad
Equipment: Salad spinner, tea kettle, colander, mixing bowl, wire whisk, cutting board, and chef’s knife.
- one bunch of swiss chard or beet greens
- one bunch of red radishes with greens
- 1 cup of spearmint leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh dill
- 1/2 cup pitted cherries
- 1 leek
- 1 cup goat cheese crumbles
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- kosher salt
- Chop the greens and leaves roughly and rinse thoroughly in the colander portion of the salad spinner. Spin the excess water and drain until mostly dry.
- Slice the radish roots and leeks thinly and transfer to the other colander. Pour boiling water over and drain, then set over the mixing bowl. Drizzle the sherry vinegar over and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Set the colander to the side, then whisk the olive oil, honey, and a pinch of kosher salt into the sherry vinegar. Pour over the greens then spin again to coat them lightly.
- Plate the greens, top with the radish-leek mixture, goat cheese crumbles, and cherries.
Root, Nut, n’ Berry Delight
So now that we’ve established that you don’t need lettuce to make a salad, guess what? You don’t need an abundance of green stuff either. Composed salads involve arranging ingredients specifically on a plate for optimum flavor and texture. I wanted to try my hand at creating one that would satisfy both woodland creatures and humans.
I’ve seen beet carpaccio in the past and wanted to feature the beetroot rather than hide it. One thing I learned from my Battle Chef Brigade-themed lamb recipe is that beet and strawberry go famously together. We also see an abundance of cheeses, honey, and hazelnuts throughout Redwall’s famous feasts.
So I combined all of these tasty elements into a single dish that highlights and complements each piece in beautiful harmony. Trust me. You haven’t tasted beets until you’ve paired them with hazelnut oil and honey.
Root, Nut, n' Berry Delight
Equipment: Oven, aluminum foil, baking sheet, glass or ceramic dish, cutting board, chef’s knife, wire whisk, and a cheese grater.
- 1 large beet or two medium beets, peeled
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
- kosher salt
- 2-4 sprigs of fresh dill
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking sheet with foil and wrap each of the beets tightly with foil. Transfer the beets to the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
- Let the beets cool for 10 minutes while prepping your other ingredients.
- Microwave the honey for 30 seconds on high, then whisk in the vinegar, hazelnut oil, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir in the hazelnuts and let sit.
- Slice the beets thinly then arrange them with strawberry slices on each serving plate. Spoon over the honey hazelnuts and garnish with grated cheese and dill fronds before serving.
Not only do we see a cornucopia of summer salads in Mattimeo’s feast scene, but also a bevy of bread, fruit cordials, and herbed cheeses. So here’s where I should probably also point out that salads don’t always need to be served on a plate or in a bowl. Technically, bruschetta is a fruit salad served on toasted bread.
I’m glad you’re seeing where I’m going with this. That’s why I chose to pair two summer seasonal berries, blackberries and cherry tomatoes, with some peppermint and coriander before piling this delicious mess on top of some sliced ciabatta.
Equipment: Oven, baking sheet, mixing bowl with a lid, wire whisk, and bread knife.
- 6 oz. blackberries
- 1 and 1/2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 loaf of ciabatta bread
- Whisk the olive oil, coriander, and balsamic vinegar in the mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Shred the mint and half to the bowl. Dice the tomatoes and roughly chop the blackberries before stirring them into the mixture. Cover with the lid and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cut the bread into eight, 1/2-inch-thick slices and toast in the oven on a low broil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Spread a tablespoon of cream cheese on each slice of bread then top with the bruschetta.
- Garnish the bruschetta with fresh mint before serving.
I save this salad for last because it is the one featured in The Devil Wears Salad‘s first Salad Gazette issue.
While I admit I’ve seen my recipes in print before when I won runner-up in Publix Aprons 2015 recipe contest, this was my first nerdy one. I don’t get to play with vegetables on here nearly as much as I’d like to.
And that’s why I can’t help but grin when re-reading this:
“Fans of Brian Jacques’s novels will enjoy a literary trip Redwall Abbey with this recipe inspired by the summer feast from Mattimeo. Honey-roasted carrots and Italian fennel join with sunflower seeds, fresh raspberries, and tarragon in this colorful, crunchy bouquet of flavor.”
Equipment: Oven, cutting board, chef’s knife, large sheet pan, aluminum foil, mixing bowl, wire whisk, and serving plates.
- One large fennel bulb
- 3-4 medium to large carrots
- 1/2 cup fennel fronds, chopped
- 1/8 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 Tb clover honey
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 Tb sunflower seeds
- kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and line your sheet pan with aluminum foil.
- Whisk the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in the mixing bowl, then season with kosher salt to taste. The vinaigrette should taste only a little oversalted, but not briny.
- Remove the stalks from the fennel bulb if you have not already and quarter it before slicing out the core. Cut the bulb into 1-inch pieces. Remove the ends from the carrots and slice on the bias to create 1/2-inch coins. Toss in the vinaigrette with a spatula until coated.
- Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake in the oven 16-18 minutes, checking intermittently, until they take on a desired level of browning.
- Transfer the vegetables back to the mixing bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Then stir in half of the fennel fronds and chopped tarragon.
- Scoop the salad onto plates and distribute the raspberries, sunflower seeds, and remaining herbs over the top before serving.