National Picnic Week

Posted by Andrew Fouracre | 18/06/2013 | Category: Food

Picnic food is great when it’s a combination of shop-bought treats and home-made fayre. When it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors and the weather is being kind for once, then seize the day and pack a summer picnic basket with something simple and something to impress. If you’re feeling brave, you can wow your picnic guests with Nigel Slater’s gammon, peach and parsley salad.  It beats sandwiches hands down and you just need to add your salad dressing just before serving to avoid sogginess!  Why not browse our current drink offers to find a suitable accompaniment for your food?  There’s plenty of great offers in the wine aisle at your local Midlands Co-operative store. 

Gammon, peach and parsley salad

ham smoked or unsmoked, in the piece 500g
peppercorns 8
bay leaves 3
parsley stalks 3 or 4
lentils such as Le Puy 125g
olive oil a little
ripe peaches 4
lemon juice a little
parsley a good bunch

For the dressing:
white or tarragon wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 4 tbsp
creme fraiche 4 tbsp
basil a small bunch, about 20 medium-sized leaves

Put the ham in a large, deep saucepan, pour in enough cold water to cover, then bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour off the liquid. Pour more cold water into the pan, again to just cover the meat, then bring to the boil. Lower the heat so the ham bubbles gently in its water. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and parsley stalks and leave the ham to simmer for a good hour. Turn off the heat and leave the ham to cool in its liquid.

While the ham cools a little, cook the lentils in deep, unsalted water for 20-25 minutes or so till tender but not soft – they should have a nutty bite. Drain, season with salt and just enough olive oil to make them glisten, then set aside.

Slice the peaches in half, pull out their stones and slice each half into three, then toss with the lemon juice. Remove the parsley leaves from their stalks, but leave them whole unless they are really very large, in which case roughly chop them. (The exact ratio of parsley to lentils is up to you, but I like about equal quantities.)

Make the dressing by putting the vinegar in a small bowl and stirring in a pinch of sea salt. Gently beat in the olive oil and creme fraiche to give a creamy dressing. Whisk thoroughly (if it appears to curdle) and don't dress your salad till the last minute. Tear the basil leaves and stir them in. Season with coarsely ground black pepper.

Pull the ham into juicy, unevenly sized chunks. Add it to the peaches, then scatter over the lentils. Scrape the dressing into the ham and peaches with a rubber spatula and toss very gently, just until the lentils and ham are coated with the dressing.

Note: If this is for a picnic, take the dressing ingredients separately, then quickly make it up at the location.