Salads can be limp, boring and vinegary if the wrong chef made the dressing but, according to New Zealand-born chef Peter Gordon, there's more to salad than sad leaves of iceberg lettuce.

Gordon, in his early 50s, who is of Scottish and Maori descent and now based permanently in London with his own Marylebone restaurant, The Providores & Tapa Room, is delighted with his eighth book, Savour, is a tome dedicated entirely to salads.

"I didn't do very well at school. I got 50% in English - the tests in New Zealand are different - which is bad. I was good at maths and cooking and geography, but now I've written eight books," he says passionately.

"I'm so happy," he adds, almost clapping with glee."

Perhaps the most controversial of the recipes in his new book is a very strange list of ingredients for mayonnaise that Gordon learnt to make as a child. Strangely there's no egg or vinegar involved...

"At 18, I became an apprentice chef and they were like, 'Do you know how to make mayonnaise?' I was like, 'Yes, I do!'" he remembers with a deprecating laugh. "I went around getting the ingredients together, but I couldn't find their condensed milk...!"

Yes, this acclaimed chef and restaurateur makes mayonnaise with condensed milk... but don't let it put you off, the salads really are delicious.


8 boneless chicken thighs

8 black garlic cloves, sliced (available from Sainsbury's and Amazon)

8 kumquats, unpeeled, thinly sliced (available from Waitrose and selected fruit and veg stores)

2tsp fresh rosemary (or fresh thyme or oregano or a mixture)

4tbsp sunflower seeds

2tbsp avocado oil (available from Sainsbury's and Ocado)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings

200g kale, thick stem removed and discarded

2 avocados

2tbsp lemon juice

1 cucumber, ends discarded, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4.

Place the chicken thighs, garlic, kumquats, rosemary and sunflower seeds in a roasting dish. Pour on the avocado oil and two tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together. Roast, turning the chicken several times while cooking, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden and crispy, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then cut each thigh into four or five slices.

While the chicken is cooking, soak the onion in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, blanch or steam the kale for three minutes. Tip it into a colander and, when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can, then coarsely shred it.

Remove the flesh from the avocados and cut into chunks. Mix with the lemon juice to prevent it going brown.

To serve, toss the kale, onion, cucumber and avocado together and lay it on the bottom of a serving dish. Lay the chicken on top then spoon over the contents of the roasting dish.

:: TUNA WITH COCONUT, CHILLI, MANGO, APPLE AND LIME (Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter)

350g very fresh tuna loin, skin and bones removed

3tbsp lime (or lemon)

juice 1 small red onion, halved and very thinly sliced

1/2tsp finely grated lime zest

1/2 medium-heat red chilli, finely chopped (use more or less to taste)

1tsp light brown sugar

1 ripe, sweet mango

100ml coconut milk

8 stalks coriander, leaves picked

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

1 crisp, sweet apple 2tbsp desiccated coconut, toasted

Flaky Salt

Cut the fish into cubes about 1.5-2cm square. Mix with half the lime juice and a quarter of a teaspoon of flaky salt, then cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Briefly rinse the sliced onion under cold water, then mix with the lime zest, chilli, sugar and remaining lime juice. Cover and place in the fridge until the fish is ready.

Peel the skin from one half of the mango and cut off the cheek (you'll need only one cheek). Thinly slice the flesh.

Drain the juices from the fish. Toss gently with the onion mixture, coconut milk, mango, coriander and spring onion. Cover and leave for five minutes in the fridge.

Cut the apple (unpeeled) into juliennes and toss with the toasted coconut.

To serve, give the fish another gentle mix and taste for seasoning, adding extra salt if needed. Divide among your bowls or plates and sprinkle the apple and coconut on top.

:: Savour: Salads For All Seasons by Peter Gordon is published in hardback by Jacqui Small, priced £25. Photos by Lisa Linder. Available now