To feed 4
Bean salad. Nutritious and attractive, and in its most authentic Middle Eastern format, dead easy to make. So easy that one is almost embarrassed to write a recipe for it. Cook some beans any beans drain them and toss them with salt and pepper and fresh herbs and lemon and olive oil. There. See? Well that’s the essence of it anyway.
But then there’s this salad. Not quite as easy, and for all you kitchen competitive types out there – well, it will keep your guests guessing.
- 100g soya beans (or use cannellini), soaked overnight (or use one can)
- 100g red kidney beans, soaked overnight (or use one can)
- 100g chick peas, soaked overnight (or use one can)
- 100g green lentils
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- 1 bunch spinach, shredded
- 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons lime powder
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaf (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
- 75ml extra virgin olive oil
- juice and zest of one lemon
- salt to taste and plenty of black pepper
Firstly cook the beans: soya beans will take about 2½ hours to cook (cannellini beans considerably less), and will need skimming after about ten minutes. Red kidney beans take about an hour – bring them to a rolling boil, drain them and then cook them in fresh water. Chick peas similarly take about an hour to cook. Lentils are much quicker: they don’t need soaking and they cook in about 35 minutes. Once the beans are all cooked and drained, mix them in a large bowl. Add the fresh chopped herbs, spinach and spring onions, and again mix well.
Next heat a minimal amount of pure olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the onion. Once it has started to brown, add the lime powder and fenugreek leaf, stirring well, and continue to cook for a minute or so before removing from the heat. Scoop the herby spiced onions out of the pan and scrape them into a small bowl. Add the extra virgin olive oil and the lemon juice and zest, and whisk together. Mix this dressing into the beans, and then season to taste.
Ghormeh Sabzi is actually the national dish of Iran. Except it is usually to be found in casserole format, and prepared with lamb. You can easily replicate this in vegetarian format by using the same ingredients as above in a slightly different way. Cook the beans as above. Fry the onions with a little turmeric, and then add the herbs, both fresh and dry, and the spinach, stirring really well. After 7-8 minutes pour in about 1½ litres of water, add the cooked beans and about 7 pierced dried limes. Let the whole thing bubble away for around 40 minutes, adding more water if it looks a little too ‘solid’. If you can’t get dried limes, or indeed lime powder, just halve a lemon, squeeze in the juice and then drop both of the squeezed halves in as well. Season to taste and serve over rice.