Summer and salad go hand-in-hand and this offering from Heather Whinney’s Virtually Vegan is a fresh, sweet, figgy take on a summertime staple. Complete with a harissa and mint dressing for an unmatched kick!

Taken from Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney

Serves 4–6
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 40 mins

400g/14oz/2 cups dried Puy lentils, rinsed well
a pinch of allspice
2 garlic cloves, grated
about 10 fresh figs
a drizzle of olive oil
200g/7oz coconut pieces
2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely sliced
3 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 large handful of land cress or baby spinach leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1–2 tsp harissa, plus extra for drizzling
1 handful of mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish

1 Put the lentils in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid partially on for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and leave to one side.
2 While they are cooking, make the dressing. Put the oil and vinegar in a small bowl or jug, whisk and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the harissa and mint. Pour it over the lentils while they are still warm so they soak up the flavours. Add the allspice and garlic and stir well so all the lentils are coated. Taste and season some more if needed.
3 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
4 Put the figs in a roasting pan and drizzle over the oil, add the coconut to the pan and roast for about 10–15 minutes until the juices start to just run from the figs and the coconut begins to turn golden. When cool enough to handle, slice the coconut pieces into shards and roughly chop the figs or quarter them. Leave to one side.
5 When the lentils are cool, stir in the celery, spring onions/ scallions and cress or spinach leaves, then add the figs and half the coconut and stir gently. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter over the remaining coconut shards and mint leaves and drizzle with a little extra harissa oil from the jar to serve.

For non-vegans…
The Moroccan flavours of this salad work well with lamb kebabs, particularly for a barbecue. Alternatively, crumbled feta would make a tasty topping.

Don’t forget to tag us – @nourishbooks – in your recreations! Happy cooking!


Made up almost entirely of water, the juicy, refreshing cucumber comes in many shapes and sizes, from tiny, knobbly specimens to long, plump, smooth-skinned ones – and, although they are subtle, there are distinct shifts of flavour between the different varieties.
Cucumbers are used the world over, especially in salads and relishes, their mild flavour often being used to carrystronger flavourings or to provide a calming accompaniment to fiercer seasonings, such as chillies and spices. They are frequently paired with yoghurt, soured cream and cheese – a tradition that spreads from the eastern Mediterranean right through the Middle East and into India. Chopped cucumber is a central ingredient of raita, a cooling, minty yoghurt relish for serving alongside spicy curries, while in Greece it is stirred with yoghurt and mint to make the dip tzatziki, and the similar cacik in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East. It is also popular pickled or marinated with herbs, vinegar and spices – a tradition particularly associated with central and eastern Europe.
When buying, look for firm cucumbers. Although the skin is edible, it can easily be removed using a vegetable peeler, if desired. You can also quickly remove the seeds by halving the cucumber lengthways and scooping them out with a teaspoon. The flesh may then be sliced, diced, grated or cut into batons, ready to add to any dish you choose.


summer recipe


  • Peel, seed and grate 1 small or 1⁄2 a large cucumber into a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible.
  • Tip the remaining flesh into a bowl and combine with 240ml/8fl oz/scant 1 cup of Greek yoghurt, 1 crushed clove garlic and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint.
  • Stir in salt to taste, then chill in the fridge until
    ready to serve.


Susannah Blake
Seasonal Food
Available from Nourish Books



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