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When it gets closer and closer to spring I start craving bright summery flavours, fresh greens and salads. Last evening although very cold gave way to this lovely dinner which has had everyone calling for the recipe, so here it is.

Buttery prawns with tomato, olives, capers and a splash of Pernod

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This is dead easy and utterly delicious. The flavour of the Pernod liquor complements but also mellows the intensity of the tomato and olives, coating the prawns in a heavenly buttery sauce.

Served as soon as it is made, accompanied by pieces of wholesome bread or rice to soak up the sauce.

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 plum tomatoes

20 tiger prawns

70g softened unsalted butter

1 tbsp. finely chopped capers

½ tsp. dried chilli flakes

70g Kalamata olives, stoned

25ml or Pernod

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt

Method

If you object to tomato skins then by all means skin them; I choose not to do so. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and set aside.

Peel the prawns, keeping the tail segment of the shell on. Cut a shallow slit along the back of each prawn and remove the dark vein using the tip of a small knife.

Place a frying pan over a high heat. When very hot, add 35gm of the butter and sauté the prawns quickly for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan as you go. Add the tomatoes, chilli and olives and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the prawns are nearly cooked through; then add the Pernod. Do this carefully as it may catch fire. Let the alcohol evaporate for a minute then quickly add the remaining butter, the garlic, the parsley and a little salt. Toss for a second or two to enable the juices to come together in a runny sauce.

Serve immediately, with good crispy bread or rice.

Cucumber, radish, peppers and poppy seed salad

Halve the cucumber along its centre and scoop out the seedy core, which is full of water, and will dilute the dressing and make the salad watery.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large cucumber

4-6 radishes, sliced

I red pepper finely sliced

2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced

3 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander

60ml white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

125ml sunflower oil

1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds

2 tbsp. caster sugar

Salt and black pepper

Method

Gently and quickly toast the poppy seeds in a hot, dry pan for a few seconds; semi cover with a lid during the process to prevent the seeds from popping out of the pan.

Slice off and discard the ends of the cucumber. Slice the cucumber down the middle and remove the seeds. Slice the cucumber so you end up with pieces 1cm thick and about 3 cm long. Slice the radishes.

Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust the amount of sugar and salt if needed. The salad should have a sharp and sweet tang.

I find it best to have all the ingredients for this salad ready and to assemble this salad just before I start cooking the prawns. This prevents the liquid which the cucumber tends to release, from diluting the dressing.

Note

Adding a few capers also adds another lovely flavour dimension to this salad.

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