This is a beautiful fresh tasting salad that I make every spring when broad beans and asparagus are brand new for the season. Broad beans are loved by few and detested by many due to memories of overcooked tasteless rubbery grey globules. I know of keen vegetable gardeners that grow broad beans and then give them away to the neighbour across the fence. They don’t know what they are missing out on…… as broad beans don’t have to be rubbery or tasteless. Along with Brussels sprouts, it is all in the preparation and cooking. Treated right, broad beans are sweet, delicate morsels tasting of peas and cucumbers.
To prepare the broad beans, remove the beans from the long green fleshy pod. The small beans can be eaten skin and all, but the larger ones need to be naked. Rid them of their grey overcoat by pouring boiling water over the beans (which are in a bowl). Set aside for 5 minutes then drain & discard the water. Pierce the outer skin (the grey overcoat) with a fingernail then gently squeeze (squeeze too hard and you risk the inner bean shooting half way across the kitchen) the brilliant green inner beans into a bowl.
Broad beans can be eaten raw in small quantities or steam them briefly as for peas or green beans. Plunge into an ice water bath to retain crunch and colour.
Red Rice Spring Salad with Sweet Delicate Broad Beans
1 cup (200g) red rice (see note)
½ cup parsley vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 cups podded broad beans
2 cups prepared green vegetables: green beans, broccoli, spring onions, finely sliced silverbeet, rocket leaves
4 hard-boiled free-range eggs
a handful of chives, chopped
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Tip in rice and simmer, uncovered, until the rice is just tender – about 25-30 minutes. Tip rice into a strainer and rinse with cold water then drain for 5 minutes. Turn rice into a glass bowl and stir in vinaigrette. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the rice to soak up the flavours of the vinaigrette. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Double pod the broad beans, discarding both the pod & the grey skins. Slice spring onions thinly on an angle to create shards. Lightly steam broccoli florets or if preferred, leave raw. Toss vegetables through the salad and season to taste. Serve with halved hardboiled eggs sprinkled with chopped fresh chives.
- Both French Camargue short grain red rice and organic Thai long grain red rice work equally well in this salad. The French rice has a nuttier taste. Allow an extra 5-10 minutes for the Thai rice to cook al dente.
½ cup sunflower oil (or use a mild tasting vegetable oil)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp orange vinegar or white wine vinegar
zest of ½ lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup parsley leaves, well packed
1 tsp sugar
salt and a good grinding of pepper
Place all the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper into the food processor or blender. Process until the parsley is chopped and the vinaigrette is bright green. Season to taste. Transfer to a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator until required.
Makes: 1 cup