Courgette, Broad Bean and Feta Salad

Courgette and feta salad 2

I know I say that every new salad I make is my new favourite but truly, this is.  I must have made it six times in the last two weeks and still show no signs of getting bored.   Crunch from little new courgettes go amazingly well with the glorious double podded emerald green beans.  A flurry of snow white tangy, salty feta along with a lemony garlic dressing brings the whole thing together with a boom.   Completely fresh and seasonal and got to be good for you, what is not to love?  I implore you to make this while the courgettes are small and the beans are around.

Broad beans might not be everyone’s cup of tea when single podded and served in their sometimes tough, grey outer jackets.  This I would concur with, a reminder of school lunches, both chewy and a little bitter.  Unrobe them further however, reveal that stunning inner green and you are in for an absolute treat, a true taste of the English summer.

I admit you need quite a pile of pods to end up with 200g of the inner bean but it is a job I enjoy, sitting at the table releasing each bean from its cosy padded sleeping bag.  A gin and tonic would be the ideal accompaniment to this task and reminds me of sitting with my granny podding beans recently picked from her garden (she had the gin in those days obviously, not me).    Granny’s kitchen garden was one of my favourite places in the world and although its been many years since I was there I remember the rows of vegetables like it was yesterday.   My first taste of asparagus, artichokes and fennel came from here along with beans of all variety.  Fruit trees in one corner offered regular treats when I was wandering around and the strawberries and raspberries further delights if I could negotiate the netting on the fruit cage.  It was a dreamy place and the excitement of picking fresh produce has never left me.

You will see feta mentioned again and I admit it finds its way into a lot of my salads.  If you aren’t keen on it though a little labneh (simply drained yogurt) would be a perfect, less salty alternative or some fresh ricotta (Herby Ricotta, September 2014) a delicious addition.

Courgette and feta salad-2

Courgette, Broad Bean and Feta Salad

3 small courgettes

200g double podded broad beans,

100g feta, cubed

1 small clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Fresh mint or marjoram, chopped to serve

Finely slice the courgettes and put into a bowl.  Blanch the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes then drain and run under cold water and drain again.  Mix the garlic with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper, taste and check you are happy with the seasoning but bear in mind the feta can be quite salty.  Turn the courgettes in the dressing and make sure they are well covered then add the beans and feta and mix the in gently, sprinkle with herbs and serve.  Enough for 4 alongside other things or 2 on its own.

 

 

 

Roasted Aubergine, Feta and Mint Salad

Aubergine and Feta salad

At this time of year I am happy to eat salad after salad.   By this I don’t mean just a regular green salad with a vinaigrette.  Rather piles of fresh crunchy vegetables with handfuls of fragrant herbs, texture from seeds or grains, creamy feta, labne or ricotta and all anointed with a punchy dressing designed to bring the components together.

I like a classic Nicoise or a retro Coronation as well as the next person and a perfectly made Caesar is a thing of joy.  More often though my salads will be veggie based, at once healthy and delicious whilst celebrating the bounty of salad leaves and vegetables spilling from the shelves during the summer months.  Tomatoes, courgettes, beans of all kinds, beetroot, aubergines, carrots, peppers either raw, steamed or roasted.   Loads of verdant green herbs bringing all their gorgeous flavours to the party and lots of salady leaves.  If there is meat or fish it will often be almost as a seasoning, some small cubes of chorizo or bacon for example or salty slivers of anchovy.

You will find lots of suggestions here, Green Beans with Tomatoes and Chorizo (September 2013), Christmas Salad (December 2013), Favourite Green Salad (January 2014) and Roast Vegetables with Pomegranate Molasses (July 2014).   I turn to all these regularly and honestly, never get bored of them.  Todays salad is a new kid on the block and celebrates that trinity of good friends aubergine, feta and mint.  I often use these ingredients in other dishes but this time wanted them to shine and along with some bulgar for body, leaves of rocket and a garlicky dressing it is a stellar combination.

Aubergine and Feta salad 2

Aubergine, Feta and Mint Salad

I have mentioned previously my determination to find a way to make all vegetables agreeable to my children but it would seem that aubergine may be my nemesis…..

2 aubergines, sliced and then cubed

1 tablespoon olive oil

100g bulgar wheat

1 large handful of mint, torn

100g feta (more if you like) roughly cubed

1 large handful of rocket

1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 teaspoon runny honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200, turn the aubergine cubes in the oil and spread out on a baking tray (you may need two), sprinkle with salt and roast for 20-30 minutes until golden.  Put the bulgar wheat into a bowl with a pinch of salt and cover with boiling water to about 1cm over the bulgar and leave for 10 minutes.  After this time taste a bit, if it is still a little hard leave for a few more minutes before draining.   Meanwhile make the dressing by mixing the garlic, honey, lemon juice and oil, season with salt and pepper until you are happy with it.  Mix the bulgar with most of the dressing and then gently mix in the aubergine, feta, rocket and mint.  Taste for seasoning and just before serving pour over a little more dressing.  Serves 4 alongside other things.

 

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Feta

Green Bean Salad

I am very keen on the whole family eating together and of course eating the same thing,  I might have mentioned before that I am not a big fan of “kid’s food” and who needs it. Be adventurous, there are so many delicious things to try and honestly who wants the headache of cooking lots of different dishes?  That said, it is not always plain sailing to keep the customers happy.  One of my children is currently off pasta, rice (except Paella – how does that work?) and sausages, neither like mashed potato and the other doesn’t really go a bundle on many vegetables.  I am nothing if not determined however and this salad suits everyone.

The crisp beans with sweet tomatoes and salty feta go together unbelievably well. I can’t quite say perfect marriage, too many contenders but that sort of thing.   My daughter loves the beans because of the garlicky dressing and the feta (but not the tomatoes), my son loves the beans and tomatoes (but not the feta) and I love it because the bowl is always empty.  I often serve this with roast chicken or lamb and it is one of the sides I am most likely to make to go with a barbecue.   It is a perfect solitary lunch or supper, quick, easy (so simple I am almost embarrassed to put it up as a recipe) and cheap too.

A twist on this and particularly good with chicken or fish is to lose the feta and have loads of garlic, lemon (zest and juice) and parsley or dill along with some black olives.  I do alter the components depending on who is eating the salad and would usually add olives the version you see in the photograph.

I served this, as you can see in the picture, with some focaccia which is simply the wild garlic one I wrote about in May but now that the wild garlic is over I use a regular good olive oil on its own but you could easily whizz up some other herbs if you like.

Green Bean Salad 4

 

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Feta

250-300g green beans, topped and tailed

A large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

75g feta, cubed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, crushed

Cook the beans until just tender.  Mix the oil, vinegar and garlic in a bowl with a little salt (remember the feta is salty) and pepper then add the beans and turn them well in the dressing, put in the tomatoes and feta and mix gently until just coated.  Taste, you may want to add a little more seasoning.  Serves 4.