Now that we’re heading into summer, it’s time to refresh the salad bowl. Use leaves from different salads to create interest. I dress my salad with three parts extra virgin olive oil, one part red wine vinegar or white balsamic, and sea salt.


400g French or runner beans

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried chilli crushed

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Black pepper

Handful finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 handfuls hazelnuts or pine nuts, roasted for 5-10 minutes in a medium oven.


Top and tail the beans. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes or so until tender but still with a good bite. Drain and refresh in iced water to retain their bright colour. Use a large frying pan. Warm the extra virgin olive oil and add the sliced garlic and chilli. Sauté for a few minutes – enough to flavour the oil.

Add the drained beans, turn them in the oil to coat them well and warm them through.

Add the red wine vinegar and warm for just for a few more minutes to allow some of the acidity to evaporate. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Crush the toasted nuts lightly and scatter them over the beans. Add a good grinding of black pepper and scattering of chopped fresh parsley. Serve fresh.

Francesca’s tarragon new potato salad

The leaves of fresh tarragon are packed with a distinctive flavour which is best if used sparingly.


1kg new season salad potatoes

Bunch syboes or spring onions

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons salted capers soaked for 20 minutes and well rinsed

Fresh tarragon leaves

Black pepper


Scrub the potatoes and, with the skin on, boil in salted water until cooked. Drain. Cut into quarters.

Trim and wash the syboes and chop. Add them, the drained capers and the tarragon leaves to the warm potatoes. Dress with the olive oil and add the mayonnaise, mixing well to coat the potatoes. You can use only one of these if you prefer.

Season with plenty of black pepper and a good scattering of chopped parsley. Best served at room temperature.


Mary Contini OBE is a writer and Director of Valvona & Crolla ltd.

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