Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Smoked Ham Hock & Avocado Salad

After the lovely ham and peach salad of last week I wanted to put this one on the blog too, partly because it was seriously great and partly to show how I used the other half of that meaty little beauty that was the ham hock. But really because it is supposed to be summer - it is July, July! and yet at ten in the morning the skies hang so heavy it is almost dark - and such quick and elegant meals for mid week should be de rigeur.

Ham and avocado make a tasty pairing. Actually I find almost anything and avocado make a tasty pairing. They are so incredibly elegant and smooth and wonderfully buttery to eat. Good for you too - giving you fibre, potassium and vitamins in every pleasurable mouthful. Americans love them most of all in guacamole - on Super Bowl Sunday, they eat about 8 million pounds of guacamole - though I suspect it's the corn chips used for scooping that brings the calories to the feast!

Smoked Ham Hock & Avocado Salad

Serves 2

The basil oil in the dressing really makes the salad - you can buy it in most general food shops or it is really easy to make yourself

100g broad beans, after shelling
250g smoked ham hock, shredded
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks
3 or 4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
100g cooked butterbeans
1 small fennel bulb, halved then sliced thin as you can
3 tbspns basil oil
1 tbspn lemon juice

Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, drop the broad beans in, return to the boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and then drop the beans into a bowl of cold water, with ice added if you have some handy. This stops them cooking any further and so they stay a lovely bright green. Pop each of the beans from the thick casing and set aside.

Mix the basil oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper in a screw top jar and shake with enthusiasm till emulsified. Taste and correct the seasoning if it needs it.

In a large bowl toss the salad leaves with half the dressing. Add the ham, avocado, both types of beans and the fennel shavings. Toss lightly with the remaining dressing till you have an elegant tangle - or a rough approximation of one.

Serve and consume with delight, tasting summer in every mouthful.

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