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Simple spring salads

cesearsalWho said salads have to be boring? We’ve got four ideas that are bursting with flavour to satisfy your taste buds!

Chicken Caesar salad
A good chicken Caesar salad, with its different textures and flavours, is incredibly substantial.

Serves 4

  • 4 thick slices crusty white bread
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • a block of Parmesan cheese for grating and shaving
  • 1 large cos or romaine lettuce, separated into leaves
  • 1 tin anchovies

For the dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled  
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 5tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  1. Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut the bread into large croutons. Put on baking tray, drizzle over 2tbsp olive oil, rub the oil into the bread and season with a little salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning a few times.
  2. Rub the chicken with the remaining oil, and season. Place a pan over a medium heat until hot. Lay the chicken on the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  3. To make the dressing, crush the garlic, then grate a handful of cheese and mix with the mayonnaise and white wine vinegar. Season to taste.
  4. Shave the Parmesan with a peeler. Tear the lettuce into big pieces and put in a large bowl. Pull the chicken into strips and scatter over the lettuce along with the anchovies and croutons. Add the dressing and toss with your fingers. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and serve.

Food fact: Anchovies are rich in calcium and vitamin D.


chickpeasalCrunchy chickpea salad
Chickpeas shouldn’t be reserved just for houmous. Throw a handful in your salads for a crunchy twist!

Serves 4

  • 100g dried chickpeas
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • generous squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
  • small bunch of parsley
  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large bowl of cold water and the bicarbonate of soda. If you forget to soak the chickpeas overnight, you could use tinned ones.
  2. The next day, drain the chickpeas and place in a large pan and cover with twice the volume of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour, skimming off any foam, until tender. Then drain in a colander and set aside.
  3. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a non-stick pan over a low heat, until golden.
  4. Put the chickpeas in a large serving bowl with the cucumber, spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice and oil. Toss all the ingredients together and taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Leave to chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.
  5. When serving, garnish with a few parsley leaves.

Food fact: Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fibre.


saladnicoiseSalad Niçoise
This tasty salad from France makes a filling lunch. If you don’t fancy cooking fresh tuna, tinned works just as well, and a handful of rocket is a great alternative to lettuce leaves.

Serves 2

  • 225g baby new potatoes
  • 150g fine French beans, trimmed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 black olives
  • 1tbsp capers, drained in vinegar
  • 8 anchovies
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 baby gem lettuce, separated into leaves
  • 1tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 2 fresh tuna steaks, about 100g each
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • few basil leaves

For the dressing:

  • 30ml white wine vinegar
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes until tender. Drain well then halve. Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain well once more and pat dry.
  2. Mix the potatoes and beans with the tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies. Put the dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and season. Toss the tomatoes, olives, anchovies and capers in a little of the vinaigrette. Put a few larger gem leaves on plates and split the salad between them.
  3. Heat a large non-stick frying pan, when hot add 1tbsp of olive oil and put the tuna steaks in the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, the tuna should still be pink in the middle. Season and lift out of the pan. Cut each steak in half and place on top of the salad. Place the eggs around the plate and scatter with basil leaves, then serve.

Food fact: Tuna steak is rich in potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.


fetasalFeta salad
A variation on the traditional Greek salad, this pared down version is no less tasty.

Serves 4

  • 1 cucumber, shaved into ribbons
  • 4 big handfuls rocket salad leaves
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 150g feta cheese, cut in cubes
  • small bunch flat leaf parsley

For the olive tapenade:

  • 16 black olives, pitted
  • 3tbsp capers, chopped
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pile the ribbons of cucumber, rocket leaves and red onions in the centre of four plates. Then season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and mix well.
  2. To make the olive tapenade, mix all the ingredients together to form a paste.
  3. Arrange the feta cheese and olive tapenade over the top.
  4. Serve and garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Food fact: Black olives are a good source of iron and vitamin E.

For more great recipes, just click here.


This article was first published in at home’s ’Ask the Doctor with Dr Chris Steele’ in April 2011.


Images: Getty

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