Friday, 18 June 2010

Salad Days

In an occasional nod to my nations culinary heritage, I whip up a 'traditional British salad', as my mummy made, consisting of a small amount of limp lettuce, a few soft tomatoes and half an overly bitter cucumber (perhaps even some grated carrot or vacuum packed beetroot that will irreversibly dye the whole salad, your table linen, your clothes and anything else that it touches bright pink), dressed with a liberal helping of salad cream. I think the last time I did it was Christmas 2005; and I've not gone there since.

No, normally when I make a salad, I make something wholesome and satisfying:

The picture doesn't do it justice. This salad deserved better light (more salady sunshine, less overcast skies) and a photographer with 20:20 vision that had a clue how to operate the auto-focus on her other half's fancy pants SLR.

I have found that feeding two adults who work crazy shift patterns and a voracious toddler healthy meals on a daily basis can get a bit trying. Making up a batch of salad every so often feeds us for two days, home or away. I use the portion guide here when measuring out my quantities. My salad will always include at least one grain (unless I know I can serve it with bread or crackers); one pulse or other protein source; two or three portions of fruit or veg; occasionally some nuts or seeds; and an oil based dressing with as many flavours as I can get away with...

Today's offering fed us our evening meal; and tomorrow will feed OH and the Boy at home and me at work.

Barley bean salad: Serves 5 (or in this case 4 adult servings, 2 for littl'un)

For the salad:

200g (dry weight) pearl barley, cooked with a bay leaf until tender, rinsed
200g (dry weight) black turtle beans, soaked and cooked until tender (not mushy!), rinsed.
1 large onion
250g green beans (frozen in this instance, ahem), just-cooked
4 large tomatoes

For the dressing:

4 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 chopped garlic cloves
Approx 1 heaped Tbsp each chopped fresh tarragon and parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon soft brown sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Whilst the barley and beans cool, mix the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. Leave to one side. Medium dice the tomatoes and onions. Chop the green beans into one inch lengths. Combine all three together in a large bowl. When the barley and beans are sufficiently cool, add them to the bowl. Shake the dressing again and pour over the salad. Mix thoroughly. The salad will last for 2 days if refrigerated.

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