Bean Broadening my Salad Days (Pea and Bean Salad)

Broadly speaking, beans are a vegetable that have always climbed their way into my summer salad repertoire. On those blistering hot days, when we all feel totally bushed, my crisp green (and sometimes purple) friends help to trellis the family through the final hours of the wilting day by dding that refreshing bite to the evening meal.

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My cycle route to work in the U.K. winters, was an exercise frozen in fortitude. Navigating winding country lanes and dodging meandering morning traffic was nothing short of a hoar-frost raising experience. Seeing the fields of broad bean heads peaking through the frigid ground, was always a welcome tendril of hope for the coming warming weather. Since returning home to Australia, this rugged plant has proven to be a consistent, broad-spectrum garden performer:

  • Pollinators paradise: the early season white flowers are usually buzzing with insect attention, thus providing a much needed boost of nectar for the brood back home.
  • Biomass booster: you get plenty of green bang for your hibernating compost/wormery buck when the plant has finished fruiting. Hence, a great way to spring your waste munchers into action.
  • Soil strengthener: sickled down and heavily mulched just after flowering, and the stem, leaves and noduled (nitrogen-fixing rhizhobium) roots all act to give back the gift of fertile goodness to baron soil. Excess seeds can be dried and saved for next year (Picture: roots and pea and broad bean seeds at various stages of drying).

And last but not least:

  • Gastronomic goodness: because of it’s other garden giving qualities, I willing overlook the labour intensive harvest process to add a touch of earthy flavoured goodness to salads and dips.

Last Saturday’s Dine-In Date Night creation saw a broadening of my salad horizons: a Personal Best. For all those keen on a fab(acea) accompaniment to the evening meal, then here’s a winning number to poke and pod at: Salad PB (Pea and Bean Salad).

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Pea and Bean Salad (Salad PB)

20 broad bean pods

10 – 12 snow peas, sliced on the diagonal

1 c leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, chard etc.), roughly cut

¼ c millet

¼ c quinoa

2 sticks celery, sliced on an angle

¼ c pine nuts

2 – 3 spring onions (green part only – reserve the white part as a substitute for the next onion meal)

2 tbs mint, finely diced

¼ c Parmesan, shaved

Dressing:

1/3 c natural Greek or pot set yoghurt

2 tbs mayonnaise

1 tbs mint, finely diced

salt and pepper

Prepare the broad beans by first shelling the beans from the pod. Steam the beans for 3 minutes on high. Shell immediately. Cool. Refrigerate.

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Rinse the millet and quinoa together in water (this removes saponin: a naturally bitter chemical coating the seed). Add to a small saucepan with ¾ c water. Cook covered on low heat until the seedy-grain mix has absorbed all the water. Cool. Refrigerate.

Toast the pine nuts lightly in the oven at 100oC for 10 – 12 minutes. Cool. Combine the rest of the salad ingredients in a bowl. When the millet, quinoa and broad beans are cold, mix in with the salad ingredients. Stir through the Parmesan.

To make the dressing, mix all ingredients into a small jar. Leave the mixture to sit for atleast 30 minutes before serving to allow the mint flavour to infuse.

Serve (alongside a wholesome lasagne) to your keen-bean date night hubby to kick off an evening reminiscing about your salad days.

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