I’ve never been satisfied with a green salad (dressing on the side) for a meal – an hour later I get hungry and then eat everything in sight. The way I see it, main-dish salads should be like any other meal – balanced, with enough vege­tables, protein and carbs for it to be filling.

Smoked salmon salad with dill crème fraîche

This is an easy salad that doesn’t take much time to put together; while the potatoes are boiling, you can prepare most of the other ingredients.

The asparagus spears should be as fat as you can find while the potatoes should be quite small.

200 grams small potatoes, preferably fingerlings
8-10 spears of asparagus
100 grams crème fraîche
20 grams fresh dill
1 small fennel bulb
1 Japanese or Chinese cucumber
1 shallot
150 grams cold-smoked salmon, sliced
Fine sea salt, rough-flaked sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 lemon

1 Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough fibres from the lower part of the asparagus spears. Scrub the potatoes then put them in a large pot of tepid salted water. Bring the water to the boil over a high flame. When the water boils, add the asparagus spears and cook until almost done, then remove them from the water with tongs. Continue to boil the potatoes until they’re just tender but not mushy, then drain.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, finish preparing the asparagus. Heat a large grill pan (preferably a rectangular one) over a high flame. Lightly but evenly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the asparagus spears and sear them so they have grill marks. Take them from the pan.

3 Chop the dill, then mix it into the crème fraîche. Slice the fennel bulb and cucumber about 5mm thick. Very thinly slice the shallot. Halve the hot boiled potatoes then brush the cut surfaces with olive oil. Cut the lemon into four wedges.

4 Arrange the fennel and cucumbers on a serving platter (or two individual plates). Add the asparagus spears and potatoes, then drape the smoked salmon slices over the vegetables. Add large blobs of the dill crème fraîche around the platter or plates. Scatter the sliced shallot over the ingredients. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with rough-flaked sea salt and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.


Salade niçoise

This is summer on a plate. It was tradition­ally made quite austerely – without the potatoes, green beans and many of the other ingredients that people come to expect when they order it nowadays. If you’re a purist, look away – this is a hearty, untraditional version. Many recipes use red wine vinegar in the dressing but I like fresh lemon juice.

Avoid the cheap canned tuna that falls apart into tiny flakes at the touch of a fork. If you don’t want to buy the expensive tuna in olive oil sold in glass jars (and the cost – in Hong Kong, anyway – can be shocking), then sear a piece of fresh tuna so it’s still very rare inside, then cut it into fairly thick slices.

2 large eggs
150 grams small potatoes, preferably fingerlings
100 grams haricots verts
200 grams jarred tuna in olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
½ a red bell pepper
¼ a red onion
80 grams niçoise olives
12 brined capers
4-6 anchovies in olive oil
1 small head of butter lettuce, romaine or red leaf, rinsed and dried
Fine sea salt, rough-flaked sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:
5 grams Dijon mustard, at room temperature
90ml extra-virgin olive oil
About 30ml fresh lemon juice, at room temperature

1 Put the eggs in a saucepan, add water to cover them by 1cm and place over a medium flame. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat. Cover the pan with the lid and leave for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and rinse with cold water. Crack the shells all over, then put the eggs into a bowl of ice water and leave for at least 10 minutes. When the eggs are very cold, peel them. If the shell sticks to the egg, put them back in the bowl of ice water for a few minutes before continuing.

2 Put the potatoes into a pan of tepid salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender but not mushy. Just before the potatoes are ready, add the haricots verts and blanch for one minute. Drain the ingredients, rinse with cold water then drain again.

3 Halve the cherry tomatoes. Cut the red bell pepper into strips and the red onion into thin rounds. Slice the anchovies in half lengthwise.

4 Make the dressing. Put the mustard, olive oil and lemon juice into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a little salt, then close the lid. Shake the jar vigorously then taste; add more salt, if needed.

5 Arrange the lettuce leaves on two plates. Cut the potatoes into thick rounds and put them into a bowl with the haricots verts and tomatoes. Stir the dressing well, then spoon some of it into the bowl and mix so the potatoes and vegetables are lightly coated.

6 Place the potatoes, haricots verts and tomatoes over the lettuce leaves and add the red pepper, onion, olives, capers and anchovies. Cut the peeled eggs in half and add them to the plates. Break the tuna into large pieces and place it over the ingredients.

7 Drizzle some of the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with rough-flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then serve.