Asparagus and beetroot, and new potatoes with blue cheese: Alice Hart’s spring salads – recipes | Food

Thoughtful veg prep and bold, herb-spiked dressings are your friends when swerving dull salads. A wide, swivel-style peeler and a basic mandoline will make any paper-thin slicing of spring veg effortless. Think smashed spuds bolstered by stilton and tumbled through cool chicory and radish. Or delicate ribbons of raw asparagus, beet and fennel, which will begin to pickle, pleasingly so, in their sweet-sharp, mustard dressing to hail the summer’s salad days.

Smashed new potato salad with blue cheese and chicory (pictured top)

Delicious upon delicious, so long as you like crisp-edged, hot, smashed potatoes, melting blue cheese, the crunch of chicory and radish, and a sweet mustard dressing.

Prep 25 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

500g baby new potatoes, scrubbed
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
blue cheese, such as Stilton, crumbled
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
3 small heads
chicory (endive), bases trimmed and leaves separated
100g radishes, very finely sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced or shredded
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the new potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well, then tip into a large roasting pan and gently crush or flatten the potatoes with the base of a sturdy pan or jar. Drizzle over two tablespoons of the oil, season generously, especially with pepper, then scatter over the rosemary. Roast for 15 minutes, then strew with half the cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the potatoes are golden.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Mix the remaining four tablespoons of oil with the mustard, lemon juice and honey, and season to taste. Put the chicory leaves and sliced radishes on a platter, add the dressing, smashed potatoes, remaining cheese, spring onions and chives, and toss gently to combine. Serve while the potatoes are still warm.

Shaved asparagus, beetroot, fennel and wild rice salad with a sweet mustard dressing

Alice Hart’s salad of shaved asparagus, beetroot, fennel and wild rice, with a sweet mustard dressing.
Alice Hart’s asparagus, beetroot, fennel and wild rice salad

Tender and new spring vegetables are carefully sliced, but kept raw in this colourful salad. Asparagus doesn’t always have to be steamed or roasted, and the same goes for beetroot: the key lies in slicing them finely enough. To shorten the wild rice’s cooking time, put it in a heatproof bowl the evening before, cover generously with boiling water and leave to soak overnight. Drain and cook as below, but use only 300ml water and simmer for just 20 minutes, until tender.

Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

120g wild rice
Salt and
black pepper
1 fennel bulb
, trimmed, feathery fronds reserved
3 small beetroot
, preferably a mix of colours such as candy and red
150g asparagus spears, bases trimmed
100g radishes, very finely sliced
½ punnet mustard cress
, snipped

For the dressing
2 tsp maple syrup
½ small red onion
, very finely chopped
½ small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped dill
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

4½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard

Put the rice in a medium saucepan, add 450ml water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, partially cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the black grains are just tender and beginning to burst open, revealing their paler insides. Set aside, still covered, for 15 minutes or so, during which time it will continue to cook through.

Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables, ideally using a mandoline but, failing that, a very sharp knife and a swivel vegetable peeler. Halve the fennel bulb, trim off any tough root section and slice as thinly as possible. Transfer to a large bowl, then cover with cold water and a handful of ice cubes to shock the fennel slices into going crisp and curling up. Chop the fennel fronds and set aside.

Peel off the beetroot skins, then slice the beets paper-thin. Use the vegetable peeler carefully to pare the asparagus spears from base to cut into long, fine slices.

To make the dressing, mix the maple syrup and two tablespoons of water with the red onion, garlic, dill, lemon zest and juice, extra-virgin olive oil and mustard, then season to taste.

Drain the fennel, then pat dry in a clean tea towel. Toss all the prepared vegetables in a large bowl, then add the warm rice and half the dressing, tumbling both through to mix. Divide the salad between two large or four small plates, scatter on the snipped cress, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and serve.

  • Recipes extracted from The Magnificent Book of Vegetables: Eat a Rainbow Every Day by Alice Hart, published on 26 May by Wellbeck Publishing at £26. To order a copy for £22.62, go to