Now that we have had a couple of weeks of glorious warm and sunny weather it means things like summer salads, wedges of cold quiche and crunchy coleslaw are finally back on the menu. Last weekend I decided to prepare a huge veg and bean salad to have on hand for either work lunches or as part of a quick evening dinner for when it was just too hot to cook.
I’ve discovered that I absolutely love the combination of using both roasted and raw veg in a salad. They add such a wonderful texture and flavour contrast to each other. The roasted veg is sweet, soft and often slightly smokey or charred, while the raw veg is fresh, crisp and crunchy. That together with a mix of creamy starchy beans and a nice dressing makes for a delicious salad. It’s also the perfect tasty way to getting your 5 a day – did you know that beans (baked beans too) count as one of your 5 a day – its true! So think how healthy and delicious a tasty veg and bean salad it.
I’ve also discovered that making a dressing on the baking tray the veg has previously been roasted on, not only helps get those sticky stuck on pieces off the tray, but also adds a wonderful flavour base to the sauce. The sticky juices, edges of stuck on veg and scraps of roasted garlic are a delicious addition to the dressing. For this sauce I did a mix of tomato puree, paprika and chipotle chili powder for a smoky, only faintly spicy warmth.
This salad kept me going for 4 days. It makes a great meal in itself, but is also a lovely accompaniment to a wedge of quiche or on the side of a BBQ meal.
Summer Veg & Bean Salad in a Smoky Tomato Dressing
¼ head cauliflower
¼ fennel bulb
1 large onion
1 yellow pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 x 400g can mixed beans
¼ head broccoli
2 spring onion
50g mange tout
4 tbsp sweetcorn
2 tbsp broad beans
10 basil leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 220C. Have a large baking tray ready, but don’t line it with foil.
Divide the cauliflower into small florets. Peel and slice the carrots into thin batons and chop the fennel, onion and yellow pepper into squares. Place all the veg onto the baking tray.
Finely chop the garlic and sprinkle it over the veg along with the oregano, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together until all the veg is coated. Spread into a even layer.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes before giving everything a mix and roasting for a further 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your veg.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into small florets. Either blanch them in a pan of boiling water or in the microwave until they are slightly softened, but still firm and crisp. Cool under cold water, pat dry and add to a large bowl.
Slice the mange tout on a diagonal, so you get thin long strips. Thinly slice the spring onions. Add them to the bowl along with the sweetcorn and broad beans (you can pod them if you want, but mine were young and sweet so it wasn’t necessary).
Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the bowl along with the cooled roasted veg.
Shred the basil and sprinkle it over the top. Give everything a good mix together.
Your baking tray will probably have some sticky veg juices from roasting, which will form the base of the dressing. Add the tomato puree, paprika and chili powder onto the baking tray. Stir in the water and then place over the hob and heat gently, stirring constantly with a spoon or spatula. Rub the spatula over the base of the pan, scraping up any sticky bits of stuck on veg. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
If the dressing looks a little thin, dissolve the cornflour in a little cold water and then stir into the dressing. Heat until slightly thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the smokey tomato dressing from the heat and pour over the salad. Toss everything together so that it all gets coated in the dressing.
You can eat ti straight away but it tastes even better is allowed to sit in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. This allows the veg and beans to absorb some of flavour from the dressing.
Serve as a meal or as an accompaniment to other summery food.