Today is a delicious Spring salad of asparagus, French beans, Broad beans, Edamame, and spinach. It creates a wonderful array of green, and this can be changed to your liking. Try chard, rocket, watercress, for example! It is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.
We love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, it makes you stop to check what’s in there. Spring and Early Summer are the time to do this as there is artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, sprouting broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and Spring. Thanks Ottolenghi.
It you make a lot of Ottolenghi salads, you will know that some toasted nuts sprinkled over the top of a salad makes a world of difference to the salad, adding both visual impact and a textural element. Making a large batch of toasted seeds will save you time – keep them in an air tight container. In this dish he specified sesame seeds and kalonji. We actually used a mixture of nuts and seeds that were left over from a previous salad – slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and kalonji.
A Spring Salad
300g asparagus, trimmed and sliced on a sharp angle into 3-4 thin spears
200g French beans, topped
300g broad beans or/and edamame (fresh or frozen)
50g baby spinach leaves
1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 red chilli, finely diced
0.5 tspn Chinese toasted sesame oil
3 Tblspn olive oil
1 Tblspn fresh lemon juice
1 Tblspn sesame seeds, toasted
1 tspn nigella seeds (kalonji seeds)
sea salt and white pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for two to four minutes, depending on thickness – you don’t want them cooked to very soft. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water.
Add the French Beans to the boiling water, blanch for five minutes and transfer to the asparagus bowl. Drain both well, then dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Blanch the broad beans or edamame in the same water for two minutes, drain, refresh and dry. If using broad beans, remove and discard the skins of the individual beans by pressing each bean gently between finger and thumb.
Put all the greens in a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients and sea salt and white pepper. Stir gently, taste, add more salt if you like, and serve at once.
recipe notes and alternatives
Middle Eastern and Afghan groceries often stock peeled, frozen broad beans.