ArchiveJune 2, 2024

Summer Salads (Sprout Saladology Cookbook)

A chunky brown paper parcel has just arrived on my desk via the ever reliable snail mail. Who doesn’t love the anticipation of opening a parcel but how about this for perfect timing. It’s a  cookbook entitled ‘Spout Saladology’, packed from cover to cover with photos and recipes for the most beautiful salads you could imagine, all made with delicious fresh ingredients.
Just in time, I’ve got lots of gorgeous fresh produce at present, the garden and greenhouses are bursting with new seasons vegetables and masses of fresh leafy herbs, radishes, beets, spring onions and cabbages even the first of the fresh peas. Once the rain stopped and the sun came out at last, everything seems to virtually leap out of the ground.
Have you heard about Theo Kirwan and his brother Jack, co-founders of Sprout & Co in Dublin? They’ve now got seven restaurants serving an ever-changing range of beautiful fresh salads to their growing numbers of devotees.
The first restaurant was launched 2015 in Dawson Street in an unlikely premises where everyone predicted ‘it’ll never work there’.  In 2018, they started their own organic farm in County Kildare overseen by a passionate and inspiring biodynamic grower Trevor Harris. This cut their supply chain of salad leaves from farm to restaurant to just 24 hours.
Theo, a former actor has quite the following for his recipe videos, he shares his recipes but people still queue around the corner for the fresh salads.
I’ve got a particular interest in this cookbook because both Jack and Theo trained here with us at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and I was thrilled to read that the idea for Sprout & Co started when Jack cooked with a freshly picked, super ripe tomato from the greenhouses and couldn’t believe the difference in flavour…“ It was the lightbulb moment that made us think how a business could be built around just that: fresh, in season produce grown locally”.
They chose not to take the easy route, they decided to make everything from scratch, dressings, sauces and dips were and still are prepared daily. They choose the freshest and best from the Dublin Smithfield Market and other local growers and roasted tray after tray of whole chickens in their ‘bloom closet’ size kitchen and shredded them by hand for lunch service. Word spread like wildfire…
Apart from oodles of delicious recipes, Sprout Saladology has an all-important chapter in the beginning of the book entitled The Larder. It’s a list of the staple ingredients that Theo and Jack use in the restaurants and always keep a stock of in the kitchens to add magic to their salads. Towards the end, there’s another brilliant chapter called Dressings, Crispy Things and Pickles and these will make all the difference to even a simple green salad. I’ve already been experimenting, and I can vouch for them. Very difficult but I’ve managed to choose three recipes to whet your appetite, then you may want to dash out to your local bookshop to pick up a copy of Sprout Saladology.

All recipes are from Sprout Saladology: Fresh ideas for delicious salads by Theo Kirwin, published by Mitchell Beazley.

Stir-Fried Savoy Cabbage with Fried Peanuts and Crispy Lime Leaves

I love this dish, as it feels like you’re eating a big bowl of cabbage-y noodles. It involves a bit of prep, but once that’s done it’s quick to pull together. If you don’t want to matchstick the aromatics,

just make sure they are in chunks and of equal size so that they don’t burn. You’ll have more of the fried peanuts than you need, but you’ll thank me later, as they keep for a few weeks in an airtight container. Once comfortable with this dish, try adding spices and playing around with the formula depending on what you have to hand. This works great as a as a side with a Malaysian style curry and coconut rice or as a main with a crispy fried egg.

Serves 4 as a side

7 garlic cloves

2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh

root ginger

1 green chilli

1 bunch of spring onions (about 5)

1 Savoy cabbage

1 tbsp soy sauce


To serve

1 quantity Fried Peanuts and Crispy Lime Leaves (see recipe), oil reserved

juice of 1 lime

1. This is a stir-fried dish, so it’s best to have everything prepped

before turning on the wok.

2. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Peel the ginger, then cut into thin

matchsticks along with the green chilli and spring onions.

Set aside separately on a plate.

3. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters to make 4 thick wedges.

Remove the core, then shred all the cabbage into thin strips and

set aside.

4. Pour the reserved peanut and lime leaf cooking oil into the

wok and heat over a high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, green chilli

and a pinch of salt to the hot oil so that it all sizzles together.

Fry for about 2–3 minutes, stirring as you cook, then stir in the

spring onions for a further minute.

5. Now begin adding the cabbage in stages, as you don’t want to

overcrowd the wok. Toss the first batch to coat in the flavoured oil

and aromatics, leave to cook untouched for 20 seconds so that the

edges get crispy and then toss again before adding another handful

of cabbage. Repeat this process until all the cabbage is in the wok.

You want to end up with some charred crispy bits as well as some

fresh crunchy green strands.

6. Once the last bit of cabbage is in, toss it together and then let it sit in the pan for another few minutes off the heat until it has all softened and you don’t have any raw bits, and it’s all still vibrantly green.

7. Add the soy sauce and give it a final toss. Pile into a serving bowl,

then add the fried peanuts and crispy lime leaves on top. Serve with

a big squeeze of lime juice.

Fried Peanuts and Crispy Lime Leaves

Makes about 150g or enough for 4 servings

4 tbsp vegetable oil

150g raw skin-on peanuts

15 fresh lime leaves

pinch of flaky sea salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Set a sieve over a heatproof bowl and line a plate with kitchen paper. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large, deep frying pan over a high heat, then once hot, add the peanuts and toss in the oil.

Let the peanuts bubble in the oil for 3-4 minutes until the skins turn red and the insides are toasted (be careful not to overdo the frying, as the peanuts will taste bitter).

Add the lime leaves at the last minute to pop and crisp up in the oil. Pour the peanuts and lime leaves with their cooking oil into the sieve to drain and catch the oil, then transfer to the paper-line plate to mop up any remaining oil. Season with the sea salt and cayenne pepper. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to a month.

‘Crispy’ Dukkah-Spiced Chickpeas with Tomato Salad and Yogurt

I took a food trip to Israel recently and I can’t tell you the number of times I was served a dish with a base of yogurt and tahini. Once the vegetable juices seep in, you are left with a delicious sauce that

is best mopped up with challah bread. I always have a can of chickpeas in the cupboard and frying them in oil until crispy is a great way to use them. Make this salad with or without the dukkah.

And feel free to use alternative vegetables depending on the season.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

½ cucumber

150g any in-season tomatoes you can get

handful of Kalamata olives, pitted

1 green chilli, finely sliced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

400g can chickpeas, drained

about 150ml neutral oil, such as vegetable or sunflower

small handful of dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped

small handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

small handful of chives, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, finely grated

150g thick Greek yogurt

3 tbsp tahini

salt and freshly ground black pepper

challah bread, to serve

For the hazelnut dukkah

100g blanched hazelnuts

50g pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp dried thyme

1. Start by preparing the dukkah.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/Gas Mark 6.

2. Spread out all the dukkah ingredients except the thyme on a baking tray and roast for 8–10 minutes until the nuts are lightly golden and the spices are fragrant but not burned. Remove from the oven and pour on to a cold tray to stop the ingredients cooking any further, then leave to cool for 10 minutes. Once cooled and the hazelnuts are nice and crunchy, add to a blender with the thyme and pulse a few times until you have a very loose crumb. I like it to be quite chunky, so don’t pulse too many times. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

3. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seedy insides

with a spoon and discard, then roughly chop the cucumber into

small pieces. Roughly chop the tomatoes into 2cm chunks. Add both to a bowl with the olives, green chilli, a generous pinch of salt, the extra virgin olive oil and lemon zest, then set aside.

4. Lay the drained chickpeas out on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper and shake the tea towel or paper to dry, gently rubbing the tops to remove any moisture. The drier the chickpeas, the better this will work and the less the oil will splatter everywhere.

5. Line a tray with kitchen paper. Pour enough of the neutral oil into a

medium saucepan to come 2–3cm up the pan. Place the pan over a medium-high heat and heat up slightly, then add the chickpeas, swirling them into the oil. Fry for 8–10 minutes until the chickpeas are lightly golden, crisp and light. Scoop them out of the oil on to the paper-lined tray, then toss with 4–5 tablespoons of the

dukkah to coat the crispy chickpeas. (The remaining dukkah will

keep in an airtight jar for a few weeks.)

6. Toss the chopped herbs into the tomato and cucumber salad with

the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

7. Mix the garlic into the yogurt, then dollop on to individual serving

plates or a platter along with the tahini, followed by the tomato and

cucumber salad. Top with the dukkah chickpeas. Serve with slices

of challah bread.

The ‘Sataysfied’ Chicken

A top seller in our restaurants, this dish may be the reason you bought this book. This isn’t exactly how we present it in our restaurants because I thought I’d share a version more suitable to prepare at home.

Serves 4

4 skin-on chicken breasts

3 tbsp olive oil

4cm piece of fresh

root ginger, peeled and finely

chopped or grated

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 tbsp Madras curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

400ml can full-fat coconut milk

4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp soy sauce

juice of 1 lime


1 quantity Sweet Pickled Cucumber & Shallot Salad (see recipe)

a few handfuls of Peanut Sesame Brittle (see recipe), to serve

For the coriander & spring onion brown rice

200g brown basmati rice

400ml water

handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

4 spring onions, roughly chopped

1. Start by preparing the rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then drain. Add to a medium pan with a lid along with the measured water and a small pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with the lid, immediately turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cook for 40 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated. Turn the heat off and fluff the rice up with a fork. Place the lid back on and leave to steam for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with salt and 1 tablespoon

of the olive oil. Place a large nonstick frying pan over a medium heat,

and once hot, add the chicken breasts to the pan, skin-side down,

along with another tablespoon of olive oil. Fry for 4–5 minutes until

deeply golden and crisp. Flip the chicken over and cook for another

4 minutes until cooked through (the timing may differ depending

on the size of your chicken breasts). Remove the chicken from the

pan on to a plate to rest.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the chicken juices in

the pan along with the ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric and

chilli and fry for 2–3 minutes over a medium heat until softened

and fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer.

Then add the peanut butter and stir until the sauce thickens slightly.

Turn off the heat and season with the soy sauce. Squeeze in the

lime juice and pour in the resting juices that have collected on the

bottom of the plate of chicken.

4. Once the rice has cooled a little, toss in the coriander and spring

onions and season with more salt if needed.

5. Prepare individual plates or assemble a family-style platter by

pouring the satay sauce on to a warmed serving dish, carve the

chicken breasts and place on top of the sauce, and scatter over the

sweet pickled cucumber and shallot and peanut sesame brittle.

Serve with the coriander and spring onion rice on the side.

Peanut Sesame Brittle

225g roasted, unsalted

skinned peanuts

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp mixed white and black sesame seeds

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp chilli flakes

large pinch of flaky sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (190°C fan)/Gas Mark 6.

2. Line a small, low-sided roasting tray with nonstick baking paper.

3. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, then pour into the lined tray and spread out. You should have a good layer of the liquid at

the bottom here, so if you don’t, just top it up with a bit more oil and maple syrup. You want the peanuts to fry and caramelize in the liquid. Bake for 8–10 minutes until lightly golden and you have

a bubbling caramel. Remove from the oven and set aside

for the peanut mixture to cool completely in the tray.

4. Once cooled, lift the brittle off the tray and peel off the lining

paper. Break the brittle into little clusters. Any leftover can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Shallot Salad

I must credit the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork for this, adapted from memory from their Thai-inspired pickled cucumber salad recipe called Arjard. When you simmer the vinegar and sugar mixture, it becomes a little syrupy and acts as a dressing as well as a pickle liquor. It’s great with rich sauces or served with other dishes such as the ‘Sataysfied’ Chicken.

Serves 2 as a side

150ml white wine vinegar

150ml water

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cucumber

1 shallot, finely sliced into rounds

1 green chilli, finely sliced

1 red chilli, finely sliced

1. Heat the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over

a medium heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from

the heat and set aside to cool completely.

2. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seedy

insides with a teaspoon and discard, then slice diagonally into

1cm thick half-moons. Place in a bowl with the shallot

and chillies.

3. Once the pickle liquor has cooled, pour it over the vegetables and

toss so that they are all coated. Set aside to pickle while you prepare

your accompanying dish.


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