Many years ago, I can’t even remember when, I bought the ‘Pret A Manger’ recipe book. A collection of sandwich and salad recipes. Its published in 1996 ten years after they started, and on the eve of there 50th store opening, so this was when Pret was in its earlier hay days. The UK retail sandwich giant now has around 225 stores.
I got a free sandwhich when I bought the book for 3.5 pounds. Well worth it I can say. Its written by Emma Hardy in association with Pret a Manger, with the idea to recreate the style of Pret A Manger in your own kitchen.
I have referred to it often and love the reminder that simple combinations of flavours will always just work well together. That coupled with fantastic ingredients, of course. Keep things fresh, keep things real!
I had done a big veg shop yesterday so decided to bulk up the recipe which was for a salad of: noodle, sesame, spring onions and coriander, and added a few extra bits. I also had a cooked skinless chicken breast, so I sliced this finely to deliver the requisite protein for my supper.
My oh my was it good! The dressing, or permetations of it, will become standard fodder. I made the dressing as per what I have listed, but I left out the shallot and added a tablespoon of honey. I felt it needed that little bit of sweet.
Things got a bit crazy as I tried to do everything all at once and in a hurry. So I was soaking the noodles, blanching the veggies, chopping and making the dressing at roughly the same time. I tend to speed cook and always land up getting a but flustered. Its far better to get all the ‘mise-en-place’ ready, and then gracefully throw it together in perfect synergy the way they do on TV. This is especially important with very quick asian styles of food prep.
What I used to make this salad: (and this was enough for two)
- 130gms rice/glass noodles (if you are not adding all the veg and chicken then use 150gms)- the original recipe also recommends Soba or egg noodles
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 spring onions thinly sliced on the diagonal (white and green part)
- fresh ginger (a good grating)
- a small bunch of coriander leaves roughly chopped
- 2-3 tsp sesame seeds which you have dry toasted (I try and keep these ready made and on hand)
- (1/2 a cucumber – is what the recipe had but I didn’t add this)
- …instead I added the following going off course a bit:
- 1 celery stalk finely sliced into julienne (health and crunch benefit)
- 1/4 of a red pepper julienne (flavour and colour)
- aprox 6-8 sugar snap peas julienne
- then I lightly blanched:
- 1 carrot julienne
- 3 courgette julienne
- and a handful of broccoli florets
- 1 cooked skinless chicken breast, finely sliced
- 4 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp soya sauce
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (I used bottled lime juice)
- 1 fresh garlc clove crushed
- 1 shallot, finely chopped (I omitted this)
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp wasabi (or you could use horeseradish) – or a bit more if you want the heat
- 1 Tbsp honey (if I am measuring honey and oil, I always pour the honey after the oil, that way it just slides off the spoon)
- pinch of salt, black pepper
so how to make:
- soak the noodles in boiling water for about 10 minute until soft (or according to the pack instructions), drain and add the seasme oil to seperate and loosen
- make up the dressing by combining all of the above dressing ingredients and giving it a light whisk
- blanch the carrots, courgette and broccoli briefly in boiling water until just done, drain and refresh under cold water
- cut up all the other ingredients as per above and add to a bowl
- gently toss the noodles, the blanched vegetables, chicken, raw vegetables, half the coriander and half the sesame seeds, with the dressing
- sprinkle the remaining coriander and sesame seeds over the top
I loved the multiple, textures of the raw and the cooked with the noodles. The flavours are all there. Its a great way to use up whatever vegetables or protein you have lying around. A little chilli wouldnt be lonely in this salad either.