The Rockpool Files

Neil Perry’s science of a summer salad

There is a culinary science behind creating a summer salad requiring a perfect balance of flavours, textures and seasonal ingredients.

With infinite combinations of ingredients it is not as simple as throwing everything into a bowl, says Rockpool Dining Group’s Culinary Director Neil Perry. There is a method to summer salad madness, and it goes something like this:

When creating a summer salad, choose a modest base such as spinach or quinoa and add four to five seasonal ingredients.

Ingredients should incorporate a mixture of flavours and textures. Bitter leaves pair well with natural sweet bursts, such as cherry tomatoes, while nuts and seeds add crunch.

A summer salad by Neil Perry
Rockpool Bar & Grill’s Caesar Salad: Jason Loucas

To build a summer salad combine hard ingredients first, then leaves and dressing, before gently tossing to ensure each element is coated evenly.

To finish, sprinkle with herbs, such as coriander or parsley, to give the dish an extra kick.

“Salads are synonymous with summer. They’re light, refreshing, flavourful and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of wonderful combinations that incorporate a variety of beautiful ingredients,” Neil says.

“Each element should be well thought out and complement one another perfectly.”

Three summer salad recipes by Rockpool Dining Group’s Neil Perry: 

Poached chicken with sauce gribiche

Asian prawn and pomelo salad

Salad of sautéed beef with cold rice noodles