Ottolenghi: Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

IMG_3782These green beans, snow peas, and frozen green peas have been blanched, refreshed in ice water, dried, and gently tossed together in a large bowl. They are the vehicle for another fabulous flavor bomb from Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the finished salad, with the crushed coriander, nigella, and mustard seeds, warmed in olive oil, and tossed into the salad with red chile, red onion, lemon zest, chopped fresh tarragon, and baby kale. The recipe calls for baby swiss chard, but also says it’s optional, so when I found no baby chard available, I substituted baby kale. It worked perfectly. Normally, I would automatically say you could substitute baby spinach, but I’m not sure of that, now that I’ve eaten this salad all up. Baby spinach does that strange thing to your teeth and tongue when it’s raw, and that would detract from the clean, light, flavor of the dressing.

You may remember, Yotam Ottolenghi is not a vegetarian, he’s just really great with vegetables. He has a lot of respect for their individual strengths, and treats them with love to help them shine. I mention this, because I think this salad would be great with a lamb curry and some naan bread. It’s also hearty and zingy enough to eat just as it is, all on its own. Here’s a link to the recipe, on iVillage.com, along with the gorgeous photo from the cookbook, so you can see how it looks when it’s ready to eat. If you have trouble finding nigella seeds, you can order them from Penzey’s Spices online. They’re a great family-owned company, and their prices are very reasonable. You’ll have your nigella seeds, and probably more than that, in about a week. Give this salad a try; don’t be intimidated by the unfamiliar spices. They all come together with the vegetables to create a fresh, zippy, pungent mouthful, which is balanced with the sweetness of the snow peas and green peas. It’s truly irresistible.

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6 comments

  1. It’s gorgeous! I love meat, but I also like good, well-prepared vegetables, and particularly when they haven’t been cooked to death. This looks fantastic! :D So glad you dropped by my blog because that made me find yours!

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      • I have seen the books, and I’d love to hear the general insight – as in, to sum it up, how did it changed your views?

        The reason I ask is because there is little in the books that is very new to me, though I think they are great, but I have lived in the Middle East so my relationship with veg is not standard-Wester-European or North-American, and I am really curious to see how it looks ‘from the other side’.

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      • Ah, the Middle Eastern/North African angle is completely new to me, so that’s one thing that has been fun to explore. The biggest difference between Ottolenghi’s and other vegetarian cookbooks I’ve tried is, in my opinion, he’s not a vegetarian, he’s a chef who loves vegetables. So the only “agenda” he has is to make them taste fantastic. The other vegetarian recipes I’ve tried have always had a viewpoint to promote, and the vegetables sometimes suffer under that, coming second to whatever moral or political reason the author has for being vegetarian. Also, the American vegetable vocabulary is very small; I am always surprised at the number of people I meet who have only cooked with 3 or 4 vegetables in their whole lives, and haven’t a clue what to do with eggplant, kohlrabi, swiss chard, or celeriac.

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  2. That’s actually the best recommendation for the book I’ve heard yet – I love vegetables (what’d I eat the meat with otherwise?), but I do tend to be really leery of people who push an agenda in food! Don’t get me started on food evangelists, I may never get off the soapbox and there’d be profanity. I may look for the book used (I tend to buy old library copies and the like, easier on the wallet!).

    The fact that some people never ‘met’ certain vegetables is actually rather sad – especially since the ones you list aren’t actually that rare even in USA. Peeled, roasted alongside an onion, and blended with cream then reheated, celeriac root makes an utterly awesome soup that I adore. :)

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