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Green Beans with sesame Dressing

2 Jun

This is one of the most simple yet delicious cooked vegetable salads you can make. It is part of an immense repertoire of lightly cooked vegetables or ‘salads’ in Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite ways of eating green beans. This salad is best served at room temperature so it can be made in advance and keeps or travels well, so great for picnics or dinner with friends. Serve as a side to rice and grilled fish or with a number of small salads.

  • 250g  green beans
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan or skillet until golden brown, leave to cool then lightly crush, in a pestle and mortar, to release their flavour. Pinch off the growing end from the beans and pop into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes until the beans turn bright green and a little soft but still crisp then plunge into cold water to halt cooking and preserve their colour. Toss the beans with the soy and sesame and arrange in a serving dish. Serve at room temperature.

Cooks Note This dish can be made in advance and the salad will keep very well for a day so great for picnics or a packed lunch.

Spiced Veg Salad (Cachumber)

12 Sep

This spiced salad of raw vegetables is known as Cachumber, Kachumber or Kachmbar in Southern India and Koshumbir or Koshimbir in Western India. These small side dishes of seasoned raw vegetables can be as simple as chopped onion seasoned with lemon and salt or a complex mixture of many vegetables and fried spices. This one is on the more complex end of the spectrum and is really delicious, it adds a lovely crunch to any meal. Choose your own variety of vegetables, whatever is in season, and feel free to experiment with other spices.

  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • Herbs; Coriander leaf (optional), garlic chives (optional)

Seasoning for 2-3 cups of vegetables

  • 1-2 tbsp descicated coconut
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Finely chop the vegetables, for this recipe i usually do about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of each vegetable, aiming for about 2-3 cups of vegetables altogether.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seed then add the coconut. Stir and lift off the heat as soon as the mustard seeds crackle and the aroma from the coconut rises. Stir the fried spices into the freshly chopped vegetables add the juice of half a lemon or more and salt to taste. Leave for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours and juices of the vegetables mingle. Serve with a little extra coconut sprinkled on top.
Variation freshly grated coconut would be great but as i cannot grow it here i keep some bought unsweetened descicated in the pantry.
For other Koshumbir type recipes have a look at:

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.


Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

Beansprout Salad (Korean)

18 Jul
In Korea this banchan or small dish would be served as one of a number of dishes along side rice. Last time I was in London I took my friends to a small Korean canteen in New Malden, home to a thriving Korean community, and this was one of the salads we ate as an appetizer. It is also one of the most common and popular salads and no wonder, it is so easy to make and delicious. I love it and have tried to recreate it here with as many variations as I have tasted over the years.

2 cups freshly sprouted mung bean

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • green onion (optional)
  • soy sauce (optional)
  • soft brown sugar (optional)
  • pepper flakes (optional)
  • fresh mild green chilli finely sliced (optional)
  • Chinese chives/ garlic chives (optional)

Blanch the beansprouts quickly in salted boiling water and rinse immediately in cold water. Gently squeeze out any water and put into a bowl. Add the seasoning ingredients and toss well to coat. The first 3 are a must while the next 7 can be added in any combination to vary the salad. Serve sprinkled with pepper flakes or roasted sesame seeds.

Variation with Chinese Chives
Note
In the summmer months mung beans take only 3 days from dry to lovely fresh spouted bean shoots and so easy just make sure everything is very clean and the beans are washed twice daily.
Variation
You can also add cucumber or carrot fenely sliced to the salad. I also sometimes serve it sprinkled with deep fried crispy anchovies.

Hot Cucumber Pickle (Thai)

29 Jun

I love spicy side salads or relishes particularly in summer, they add just the right dash of freshness and heat to a meal on a hot day. Cucumber are one of the best and easiest ingredients to make quick pickles out of. This one pickles the cucumbers instantly in a Thai or East Asian style dressing and is great served with grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings or simply with plain rice.

Serves 2 Preparation 4 minutes all in.

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp mild ground chilli peppers
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp lime or lemon juice

Slice the cucumber into thin discs and toss with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refridgerate until ready to serve. This pickled salad can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24 hours.

Giacomo’s Fried Courgette Salad

24 Jun

Italian writer, Giacomo Castelvetro, set out to encourage the English to cook and appreciate vegetables in his book, A Brief Account of the Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy written in 1614. In it he describes all the produce of his beloved Italy as it comes into season and how best to prepare it. Almost 400 years on, his words are still an inspiration. For courgettes he recommends that young courgettes should be dipped in flour then fried in oil and served sprinkled with salt , pepper and agresto or verjus (the sour juice of unripe grapes) or lemon juice.
As we have an abundant and seemingly never ending crop of courgettes all through the summer and an  overcrowded grape vine it seems churlish not to take his advice. The result is delicious and works equally well with lemon, or lime juice which is easier to come by than unripe grapes.

  • 3-4 young courgettes
  • 25g white flour
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Verjuice or lemon juice

Slice the courgettes into thin rounds and drop into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper then flour and toss to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add a single layer of courgettes. Turn when the first side is browned and cook until the second side is brown. Drain on paper towels and continue in batches until all the courgettes are cooked. Arrange the courgettes in a serving bowl season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with verjuice or lemon and serve immediately.

Cook’s TIP If the courgettes are too dry the flour won’t stick to them. My dad used to make fried courgettes from the garden when i was a kid, by first dipping the slices in milk before flouring. This version has more of a light batter and is very delicious too.


Variation
Our grapes are not nearly big enough to make verjuice yet so i am using lemon juice which is a good alternative until the grapes are big enough. This year i’ll freeze the verjuice in ice cube trays for winter use.

Soba and Broccoli Salad

3 May

This healthy little salad makes a perfect spring lunch. A lovely combination of fresh green broccoli sprouts, buckwheat noodles and deeply satisfying oriental flavours.
Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp fine sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • chilli (ground or flacked) to taste (optional)
  • sesame seeds

In a large pan of water. Boil soba for 3 minutes then add the broccoli florets and boild for a further 3-4 minutes until both are just cooked. Meanwhile slice the spring onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Whe the noodles and broccoli are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook both vegetables and noodles when making this salad to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Cooks Note soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative. Mirin can be replaced by 1tsp voka mixed with 2 tsp water and 1/2 tsp sugar.
Variationsadd char grilled red pepper strips.

Sour Cucumber Salad

27 Oct
I love cucumber side salads they add just a dash of something light and refreshing to a meal. This one is a wonderfull salty, sour and hot and is great served with fried or grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings or with rice and dal. It is particularly tasty if you use some of the more aromatic chillis such as Lemon Drop or Habanero chillis. I thought our crop of cucumbers was over for this year but as the day time temerpatures are holding late into October, the remaining cucumber plant in the polytunel has started to produce new growth and even cucumbers.
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 fresh hot chilli thinly sliced
  • pinch of ground dried chilli 
  • generous pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice 
Slice the cucumber into paper thin discs. Slice the chilli into very thin rounds put them into a small bowl with the cucumber, ground chilli and salt sprinkle with citrus juoice or vinegar. Mix well then refridgerate until ready to serve. This salad can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24 hours.
Tip if the skins are a little tough by all means peel them.

Salad Niçoise

8 Sep

I love this classic salad from Southern coastal France; a wonderful combination of cooked potatoes and green beans with fresh summer tomatoes and lettuce topped with seared tuna and olives. This is what the French call a salad composé, each diner is presented with a plate on which all the ingredients have been layered or composed ready to tuck in.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until only just tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Cut the beans into bite size pieces and boil in salted water for 5-6 minutes or until the beans are only just cooked  drain and give them a little splash of olive oil, toss and set aside.

Meanwhile season a tuna steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper then pan fry or griddle on a high heat for a few minutes on either side until just cooked through, sprinkle with lemon juice and remove from the pan.

Meanwhile wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and toss with a simple vinaigrette or Salad Dressing of your choice.

Arrange the dressed lettuce leaves on a plate then add a scatterring of cooked potatoes, slices of spring or salad onion and green beans then a layer of sliced tomatoes, cucumber or peppers according to your taste and what you have available and give it a pinch of sea salt as you go.  Top with the freshly cooked tuna and some black olives with the stones removed. Garnish with a pinch of chopped parsley for both looks and flavour. Serve with a little olive oil or salad dressing drizzled over the top.
VariationI often add sweet peppers, salad onions or cucumber too.

Salad Dressings

8 Sep

Salad dressings are all about responding to the raw or freshly cooked ingredients in the bowl and therefore should be open to experiment, these are just a few of the dressings we use most often, to give some ideas to expand on.

Oil & Lemon 
This is the simplest dressing you can make, I like to give it an extra citrus zing with finely grated zest. I would use this combination on freshly cooked spring vegetables such as asparagus simply add it to the pan once the vegetable has been drained and give it a toss around to coat.
6 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp lemon Juice
pinch of ground sea salt

1/2 tsp zest of half lemon, finely grated. (optional)

Balsamic and Garlic 
This is the combination we use most often on our leafy salads. We just add the ingredients directly to the salad, starting with the oil and ending with the vinegar, the salad is then mixed to coat.
Olive oil
One or two cloves of garlic
crushed sea salt
balsamic vinegar
Basic French Vinaigrette Our home made red wine vinegar, which we started 3 years ago became ready this year. It is deep and almost sweet and makes the most delicious dressing. Simply beat the ingredients together.
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
cracked black pepper and crushed sea salt
French mustard to taste
5-8 tbsp Olive Oil 
Honey & Lemon  A nice fresh tasting dressing lovely when a touch of sweetness is needed.
grated zest of half lemon
1/2 tsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
Variations: add 1/2 tsp dijon mustard Mix all the ingredients together.

Orange Dressing This is a very light dressing excellent for freshly boiled beetroot. Add the dressing when the beets are still warm just after being peeled.
 Juice of 2 oranges
 Zest of 1 orange
 large pinch of salt to taste
 Mix the ingredients together until the salt dissolves.

Citrus Dressing
Juice of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive Oil
orange thyme
salt

Walnut & Mustard Dressing Walnut oil has a distinct flavour and is best teamed with a lightly flavoured acid. It works very well with bitter leaves and salads.
4 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or white balsamic
Dijon Mustard
 salt & black pepper

Korean Style Dressing Use this dressing on lightly cooked or steamed green vegetables such as spinach, mizuna, mustard green or choy sum.
2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Thai Style salad Dressing This salad dressing has no oil content is great with cucumbers, grated root vegetables, shredded leaves, beansrouts, crisp iceberg lettuce.
 Rice Vinegar or lime juice
 Fish sauce
 Sugar Soy sauce
 Chilli flakes
 Crushed garlic

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce or Salad dressing) This is an intense hot, sour, salty, sweet dressing for use on noodle salads.
1-2 clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 red chillis (Thai bird, cayenne, jalapeño or serrano chile) de-seeded, and minced
10 tbsp hot water
2-4 tbsp sugar
2-4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and fresh chiles to a paste. (Or mince them together with a knife.) Mix together the garlic, chilli, hot water, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Leave to sit for at least 15 min. before using. NB this sauce can be kept in the fridge for about a month. The sauce is put on the table for each person to add to their taste.

Delias Vinaigrette This is Delia Smith’s herby vinaigrette
1 heaped tablespoon roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 heaped tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and drained
grated zest and juice 1 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil salt and freshly milled black pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat until just warmed through. Serve over grilled meat, fish(tuna), halloumi on a salad bed.

originally posted on Mas du Diable 29/3/2007