All that digging and sowing and watering has finally resulted in some food this month! And some yummy recipes for using it all up…
There’s been peas, broad beans, radishes and so much salad, I haven’t managed to pick it all before some of it bolted (that’s when it flowers or ‘goes to seed’, which usually means the leaves go too bitter to eat). But I can’t bear to throw anything out so I managed to salvage the leaves by using this handy radish leaf pesto recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini. The key is to blanch the radish leaves or any other bitter greens with a quick splash of boiling water to remove the worst of the bitterness. Then when blitzed with some cheese, nuts, garlic and olive oil they make an awesome, tangy lil sauce for pasta.
And then there’s the wholegrain salad. Which almost isn’t a recipe but it’s my go-to meal when I feel like I need to eat something healthy (ie after getting back from a festival!), or if I’ve just got fresh veg to use up. And the dressing is part of what makes it that little bit special. This has totally cured me of my mustard dressing rut and reminded me why capers are are an essential for any veggie’s repertoire. Thanks to a lovely chef I met through work I am in a caper dressing rut and I may never look back… Wholegrain salad with summer vegetables
Makes a large bowl which feeds 2-4 as a main or 4-6 as a side dish
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp good quality olive oil
- seasoning to taste
- Crush the capers and garlic together in a mortar and pestle if you have one. If not a food processor works fine too.
- Add the vinegar and olive oil, mix well and season to taste. Ideally, the dressing should be left to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavours blend together.
- about 1.5 cups of grains: I use about even parts brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, bulghur wheat and sometimes some couscous too (or even the large, Israeli couscous grains if I can find them). Of course you can use whatever you have on hand or even just one grain like couscous. But do check out this list of wholegrains for more inspiration and some information on the health benefits. Basically most white flours and grains have had some of their nutritious parts removed, while wholegrains have literally been left whole so you get all the goodness.
- about 2 cups of vegetables: I’ve been using blanched broad beans and peas plus some grated courgette and carrot but you can get as creative as you like here – using spring onions, peppers, asparagus, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or spinach for example.
- Add some carbs or protein if you like too – maybe lentils or chickpeas or fried halloumi or crumbled feta…
- Dressing (recipe above)
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, check the cooking times for your grains.
- Add to the pot whatever grains take longest to cook – usually barley or rice – and set your timer.
- Check the cooking times for the rest of your grains. Many of the others take about 15 minutes to cook, so when there’s 15 minutes left on your timer, add them in.
- Prep or cook the vegetables as necessary while the grains are cooking. If possible add them to the same pot to cook and save on washing up – ie add your peas for the last two minutes of cooking.
- Couscous usually doesn’t need boiling, you just add it at the end of cooking, cover and let sit, off the heat for a few minutes. You might need to pour off some of the water so it’s just covering the couscous.
- When everything’s cooked, drain if needed and combine all ingredients in a large bowl, including the dressing. I like to add the dressing while it’s still warm as I find the flavours are absorbed better this way.
- Check your seasoning, adding more dressing if desired and either serve a bit warm or pop in the fridge for a bit too cool down (especially if it’s a hot summer evening – not such a problem here in England but I hear the rest of the world might actually be having summer right now)
- Devour and feel virtuous for eating a massive bowl of veg and healthy grains…
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