Monday, August 4, 2014

broad bean summer salad & a trip to the seaside

I am finding a feeling of connectedness to England through the food - not that that should come as any surprise - and more specifically the produce. England's offerings are impressive and yet simple. Berries, pears and apples grow wild here, yours for the picking. Beans, courgettes and tomatoes have ushered in a summer style of eating that is raw, clean, and simple.
 London seems to play everything close to the chest. I have really had to work hard here to discover the good markets, butchers, fish mongers and spice stalls, but I am finding them! - finally.  
A good part of this summer has been about the broad bean (favas as they would be called at home). Their bright green color and tender creamy texture is so easy to love. They have gone into risottos, been made into spreads and hummus, but my favorite has been this simple salad. 
Simple has been some what of a theme around here. Both of us are working hectic full-time jobs that required late hours and long days. Weekends have been precious and, in an effort to maximize those two days we have been taking simple, easy going excursions to some of Britain's seaside towns. 

They are the perfect getaway. Accessible by train, cups of coffee in the morning, a late breakfast in a new city & home to bed after dinner. 
Brighton was a recent day trip - nostalgic, slightly faded beach front and a vibrant little town waiting just up the hill. 

Up the hill from a sleepy beach front is a young, lively town full of winding streets, outdoor markets, shops and restaurants. 
Sitting for a while to take it all in - live music being played and big inviting picnic tables on which to sit, rich second cups coffee. Poking through shops and keeping an eye out for the perfect lunch spot - it was a carefree & easy day & just as summer should be 

for the salad
serves 2
about 1 1/2 cups of blanched, shelled broad beans
1 very small red onion or shallot 
3 tablespoons of muscat vinegar 
1 small head of romanesco broken into very small pieces 
3 or 4 strips of lemon peel, cut very finely into strips 
2 big handfuls of pea shoots - or other micro greens
10 or so small - medium mint leaves 
10 or so sprigs of flat leaf parsley 
olive oil (i used a beautiful orange infused oil - go for one that has sweet floral notes)
the freshest ricotta 
salt & pepper 

chop an extra small red onion (or shallot) very finely, just cover with muscat vinegar and set to the side 

peal and blanch the broad beans (there is something nearly therapeutic in this task). after blanching, i like to remove the tough light green outer pod to reveal the gorgeous colors you see below. 

break apart the romanesco into very small pieces - they are sweet and crunchy and raw in this salad - 

assemble the pea shoots, romaesco, lemon zest fronds, broad beans, flat leaf parsley &  mint leaves on each of the plates. 

into the onion mixture add a pinch of salt and whisk in the olive oil. 

dollop on your ricotta, as much or as little as you like really and then drizzle the entire salad with the dressing. 

finish with a few grinds of black pepper 

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