I seem to have slipped into making pretty uninspired salads for work lunches recently, so this time I wanted something a little more coherent, with complementary flavours and textures.
Enter broccoli and basil!
I go through phases with broccoli, sometimes I can take it or leave it and other times I really crave it. It’s so nice in salads and paired with basil makes a lovely dish for the end of summer.
I’ve also added butterbeans for a creamy texture, olives and sun dried tomatoes to complement the basil, and cucumber for crunch. Lovely!
Broccoli, butterbean and basil salad
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, drained
30 g fresh basil
3 tbsp water (save it from steaming the broccoli if possible)
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4 sun dried tomatoes from a jar, and 1 tbsp of the oil
20 small olives
about 6 cm cucumber, diced
salt and pepper
Steam the broccoli until just cooked. I did mine for 3 minutes in the microwave, with a little water.
Pick and separate about 1/3 of the basil leaves and set aside.
Blitz the rest with the oil from the tomato jar, vinegar, water, and salt and pepper.
Mix together the drained broccoli, butterbeans, olives and dressing. Leave to cool completely and then fold through the cucumber and basil leaves.
Ackee again! To be honest I was going to do a fried rice type of thing and stir the ackee through at the end, but as it turned out I had run out of rice… the horror!
So instead I used butterbeans and ooh it came out well, there’s something about the richness of the ackee with the creaminess of the butterbeans and the crunchy vegetables that’s ever so satisfying.
You could vary the veg, but if you can, do use the dill, the flavour is gorgeous with the ackee and beans.
As well as being delicious, it’s a super quick dish, and is good hot or cold!
Ackee with butterbeans, vegetables and dill
makes 2 nice big servings
1 540 g tin of ackee (340 g drained weight)
1 400 g tin of butterbeans (240 g drained weight)
1 large carrot, finely diced
100 g sugarsnaps, sliced in half
1 large courgette, diced
1 tsp oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (or apple cider, or balsamic)
2 tbsp tamari
a pinch of pepper, black or white
3 tbsp fresh chopped dill
It’s dead easy this one! Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and stir fry the courgette and carrot for about 3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the sugarsnaps and butterbeans along with the vinegar, tamari and pepper and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
Fold in the ackee, and continue to cook, mixing often until the ackee is heated through. Another 3 minutes should do it!
Stir the dill through at the end.
These recipes started off as a fun meal to share with Alex after a particularly hard couple of days at work. But the sauces came out so well we thought we should share 🙂
The salsa is tangy, the beans savoury and comforting and the cheesey sauce is properly gloopy and tasty!
All ready to yum!
serves 2 to 4
for the salsa
150 g tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
a pinch of salt
1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
for the bean puree
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, and the liquid
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (or 1/2 tsp smoked paprika)
salt and pepper
for the cheesey sauce
1 carrot, grated
250 ml soy milk
a tiny pinch of ground celery seed
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp cornflour, slaked with a little water
1 tbsp tapioca flour, slaked with a little water
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp cider vinegar
salt and white pepper
1 avocado, sliced or chopped
as many tortilla chips as you like!
For the bean puree, tip the butterbeans with their liquid into a small saucepan, add the oregano and liquid smoke and simmer for 10 minutes until the beans have started to break down. Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
Next the cheesey sauce. Put the soy milk, carrots, celery seed and thyme in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrot is soft. Stir often, or the soy milk can overflow!
Blend the carrot mixture until smooth. Put back on the heat and add the cornflour, and then tapioca, stirring all the time. It will thicken and go stretchy.
Beat in the nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
To make the salsa, simply combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl! Serve the sauces with avocado and tortilla chips.
By A. and E.
For the last few days water in my area of Lancashire has been contaminated, and has had to be boiled for drinking and food prep. I really can’t complain, as in the grand scheme of things I’ve got it easy, hospitals and care homes have had a very difficult time of it. And of course the hotels and cafe’s of nearby Blackpool are at their busiest time of year!
But having to boil and cool water before using really does take the fun out of cooking, particularly when you’re used to using, and therefore washing, lots and lots of herbs and vegetables! I’ve eaten a lot of tinned soup…
But today I need to cook.
So with the theory that baked polenta won’t be such a pain to wash up as if I’d cooked it in a pan (wet polenta is almost akin to porridge in its ability to glue itself to saucepans I think!), I thought I’d give this method a try.
I’ve added smashed butterbeans for a bit of protein, and because I love them!
As the oven was on for the polenta I thought I’d bake the vegetables too, to make a thick, spicy, flavoursome sauce. I’ve been wary of baked sauces since years ago (when I still believed timings in food magazines…), I made an all in one oven baked ratatouille. It took three times as long as it should have to cook, and was still pretty awful!
So here I’ve staggered the cooking time for the vegetables so that they all cook through and the flavours meld. It does take a while, but hey, while things are in in the oven you can get on with other stuff!
Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables
I’ve been thinking over the last couple of days about trying some new additions to work lunch salads, something to add a bit of interest and a burst of flavour, as well as being filling enough to last through the afternoon.
And so my first thought was butterbeans! They’re a huge favourite of mine, I love them in salads, soups, dips… any way really!
So I had a rummage around in the fridge and cupboards and came up with this interesting and tasty coating to roast the beans in. I ate them with a rice and quinoa salad with carrot radish and sweetcorn, as you can see in the photograph. And what a satisfying lunch it made!
Roast butterbeans with miso and ginger
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, drained
2 tsp white miso
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp water
a large pinch each of salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Line a tray with baking paper.
Mix all of the ingredients together well (you can save a little mint for garnish if you like), and spread the beans out onto the tray. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once. They should be browning and splitting with a lovely chewy texture.
Serve with a lovely salad, or just as a snack!