A morning surrounded by food is a morning well spent, and that was certainly the case when meeting Ukrainian born chef Olia Hercules in her spacious London home. Against the drizzle of London's weather, Olia’s kitchen is an oasis of colour and creativity, with chic modern decor and assortments of every herb under the sun - many freshly picked from her own garden. Her recipes mix sweet and savoury, with clever tricks inspired by her Ukrainian heritage that create truly unique dishes. We were lucky enough to be shown through 2 beautiful Summer salads which are effortlessly simple to recreate.
Ukrainian Cucumber Salad
Serves 2 as a side
2 medium cucumbers
50ml plain yogurt or kefir
Sea salt flakes
You can cut the cucumber however you like, but I love the technique where you cut it into chunks.
Toss them with the yogurt in a bowl and season well with sea salt.
Put them into a medium serving bowl and grate over the nutmeg.
They are brilliant as part of a bigger feast, especially if bbq main is involved (they go well with grilled veg, fish and meat).
Tomato, Berry & Red Onion Salad
Serves 2 as a side
300g ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes
A small handful of raspberries
1/2 small red onion
A handful of herbs and flowers (oregano, basil, dill, chives, tarragon, nasturtium and borage all work very well)
2 tbsp fruity vinegar (I used Vinegar Shed’s mandarin, but cider works too)
A generous drizzle of unrefined sunflower oil (or any other toasty oil)
Slice the tomatoes in different ways to make it look more interesting and fun. I sliced some across ‘the equator’ and I quartered others.
Slice the onion as thinly as you possibly can and add them to the bowl with the tomatoes.
Now tear the raspberries in half and add them too.
Drizzle over the vinegar, a generous pinch of sea salt and the oil and give it all a gentle mix.
Scatter the herbs and flowers over and serve and dazzle. When the salad is finished, use some fresh bread to mop up the delicious dressing juices at the bottom of the bowl. Or if no one is looking just drink them out of the bowl - they are so delicious!
Olia’s book ‘Summer Kitchens’ is available on Blackwell’s here.