This English Garden salad is much more than just a salad, it can be served as a light summer lunch in the garden under the sun. The English are fond of our allotments and have grown foods locally for centuries. But during the war years, the UK placed a greater emphasis on self-sustainability. Now, gardens and allotments across the country burst with delicious vegetables to create stunning salads.
Garden Vegetables for English Garden Salad
Lettuce and leaves form the base of this salad. Here it’s summery watercress, crunchy iceberg, and sweet little gem lettuce. These base veggies are completely changeable depending on what is available. Try changing the watercress for Rocket, or baby gem for Romaine, the famous lettuce used in a Caesar salad.
Broad beans and fresh peas are delicious when in season and burst fresh out of their pods. However, the broad beans must be boiled for 2 minutes before eating. This is because they contain a toxin called Phytohemagglutinin, the same toxin that’s found in red kidney beans. That said, broad beans can be eaten raw if picked when young which is only guaranteed by growing your own. US readers know broad beans as fava beans.
Other vegetables include thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, radishes, apples, and celery. Keep the celery leaves as these have a delicious flavour and help make the salad look delicious. In terms of carrot preparation, I’ve listed them as grated. However, if your knife skills are up to the job, Julienne cut them for a better bite. Please do no better ready grated carrots for this recipe as the small effort required to freshly grate one carrot is well worth the added labour.
Cheese and Egg in an English Garden Salad
I haven’t found a suitable reason but for some reason, sharp cheddar cheese remains heavily associated with garden salads. Whatever the reason, however, it does help make the salad feel like a complete meal. Eggs, also provide the salad with a protein that makes this English garden salad suitable for vegetarians.
Some people add croutons to garden salads, but this felt more of an American inclusion so it didn’t feel right in my English garden salad.
English Mustard Vinaigrette
This dressing is a cross between a classic French vinaigrette and the English salad cream. Salad cream is a creamy condiment like mayonnaise used to flavour salads in England, however, it’s quite heavy. This dressing removes the cream eggs, making a lighter dressing perfect for the summer.
The vinaigrette, while similar in its design to the classic versions, uses English mustard instead of the traditional Dijon mustard. English mustard is hotter and packs a greater punch, which means less is required. However, here, it serves as an emulsifier helping to bind the oil to the vinegar.
This recipe calls for white wine vinegar as it’s milder vinegar compared to other kinds of vinegar such as red wine, sherry, or apple cider. Its flavour is lighter and is perfect poured over green salads. However, as English mustard can be quite strong, using another vinegar may also be a little redundant as it wouldn’t allow the stronger-tasting vinegar to shine. White wine vinegar adds acidity.
This English Garden salad calls for rapeseed oil in its dressing. Rapeseed is produced from the rape plant, a yellow plant that can be seen growing in fields across the UK. It contains all the essential omega fats. Homegrown rapeseed oil is often called “British olive oil but rapeseed lacks the fruity notes of a good extra virgin olive oil. Instead, it’s earthier with a nuttier flavour. Despite the differences in flavour, you can use either olive oil or rapeseed oil as long as they’re cold-pressed.
Cold pressing is a method of extracting oil without the use of heat or chemicals which often results in a superior-tasting oil. Cold-pressed oils also hold onto the nutritional values better resulting in healthier oils.
English Garden Salad with English Mustard Vinaigrette
For the Salad
- 80 g Watercress
- 1 Little Gem Lettuce Shredded
- ½ Head of Iceberg Lettuce Shredded
- 100 g Fresh Peas
- 1 Medium Carrot Grated
- 4 Radishes Thinly Sliced
- ½ Cucumber Thinly Sliced
- 1 Celery Stick thinly cut into Matchsticks.
- 15 g Celery Leaves
- 1 Apple thinly cut into Matchsticks.
- 100 g Cheddar Cheese Diced
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp English Mustard
- 6 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil
- 5 g Fresh Parsley Chopped
- 5 g Fresh Chives Chopped
- Salt / Pepper to taste
- Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the eggs for 6-10 minutes depending on the preferred level of doneness. Once cooked, immediately run under cold water until the eggs have cooled. Peel, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all the other salad ingredients together.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Then, slowly pour in the oil a few drops at a time, whisky constantly to allow the oil and vinegar/mustard mix to emulsify. Finish with the chopped herbs and season to taste.
- Spoon into a serving bowl and serve with the eggs cut in half on top.