Friday, 7 June 2013

Green bean, petit pois and broad bean salad with lemon zest and garlic oil

After spending the winter in the snowy mountains I am now in south west France right by the beach. Life is good!

We have been biking around and running on the beach and so far we have surfed, sunbathed, sprained one ankle, not mine this time thankfully, seen a very thin green snake, eaten the best mussels in the world, drunk lots of wine, spoken very bad alcohol fuelled french and shopped at the local fish and veggie markets...tres bon!

It has been pretty boiling the last few days so I decided to make a fairly labour intensive salad to take to my friend Mhairi's bbq, a great excuse to spend the afternoon soaking up the sun and podding peas.

The down side about this salad is that even if you pod a big bag of peas and broad beans it doesn't make enough to feed a big bunch of bbq folks, I bulked mine up after with quinoa which was really delicious, you could also use pretty bow pasta or if you want to keep it green add sugar snap peas too.
The flavour is very fresh and clean with a good crunch to it so perfect as a summer salad. I have given very rough amounts because you can do it to whatever ratio you like and how much time you have.

serves 5 as a side salad

2 handfuls of french thin beans, tails cut off and sliced in half
a plastic bag full of fresh broad beans in their pods
half a plastic bag full of petits pois in pods
3 thin spring onions, cleaned and whole thing sliced thinly
1 small bunch of radishes, sliced into very thin rounds
chives, small bunch sliced about 2cm long
1 lemon zested and juiced
I bulb of garlic
1 cup olive oil
crunchy sea salt and pepper

First off make the garlic oil, peel all the cloves and place in a pan with olive oil, heat gently until the garlic starts to sizzle a tiny bit around the edges, keep this going for about 10 mins, you don't want the garlic to brown at all so watch it carefully and make sure the the heat is still low. Then take it off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 45 mins. Once cool you can keep it in a sealed container with the garlic still in it for about a week, it would also be delicious with chilli or lemon zest so you can chuck that in too if you fancy, if doing lemon oil make sure there is no white pith at all on the skin or the oil will taste bitter.

Then get podding, it's best to do it with a friend or find a small person who can be persuaded that it's really fun. Take the broad beans out of their pods and throw away the pods keeping just the beans, after that do the same with the peas and put them in a separate bowl.

Get a large pan of salted water on to boil and get a big bowl filled with cold water and ice to re fresh your beans when they are done, this stops them from carrying on cooking and helps them keep their bright green colour.

Once the water is boiling, cook the broad beans for 2 mins, if they vary in size put the big ones in first and wait about half a minute and then put the smaller ones in to prevent them over cooking. Using a slotted spoon put the beans into the ice water and leave to cool.

Next cook the french beans, for 2 mins, check them after a minute and a half because you want them crunchy. While they are boiling take your broad beans out of the ice water and into a bowl because you are then going to refresh the french beans, add more ice if it has melted. Then cook the petit pois, these only take about 1 minute, try one to check and then into the ice water with the french beans. Once cooled, drain and dry off with a tea towel.

Unfortunately with broad beans you have to double pod them so put the kettle on and sit somewhere comfy to take the skins off.

Put them in a big bowl with all the other ingredients, squeeze half the lemon juice over, drizzle on some garlic oil, season well and you should have a beautiful green crunchy salad which tastes like summer!

For a serving idea, it would be delicious with new potatoes, parsley, olive oil and some fresh fish!

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