Baby Spinach, Wild Rice, Broad Bean, Grilled Asparagus & Courgette Salad with Crispy Onions

Finally for this week, another really delicious salad and a meal in itself. I am back to grilling veg again and although I know that grilling courgettes maybe a bit laborious, I cannot think of a vegetable which is more elevated by this simple process. The rather tasteless courgette absorbs the smoky flavours of the grill and is transformed into something quite exceptional.

The crispy onions are another favourite of mine and are such a marvellous addition to so many dishes. You can make up a batch and they will keep crispy for up to a week in an air-tight container. The oil, which you can re-use each time you make a batch, also serves as a delicious dressing and gets more intense the more times you re-use it.

I love adding a couple of handfuls of shelled broad beans to my salads. Their pale green colour so quintessentially says “spring” so get them whilst you can because along with the asparagus, they will be finishing soon.

I love the chewy texture and nutty taste of Wild Rice and it is super good for you too. It is a little hard to get hold of so stock up on it when you see it because it is one of my salad ingredient staples.

Crispy Onions

Crispy Fried Onions

Thinly slice a few large onions. Cut off the top end of the onion and peel the rest of it. Slice as thin as possible. A Mandolin is really good for this or you can use a food processor. Place a saucepan on a high heat and add about an inch of vegetable oil. You don’t want to use too much oil as the more intense the flavour the better. Heat the oil to 180⁰C using a thermometer. Add the onions slowly and deep fry until light golden brown. Be careful not to burn, stirring regularly, especially in the corners where the onions will cook most quickly. Remove with a slotted spoon, straight into a colander lined with kitchen paper over a bowl. Break up any clumps and leave to crisp up. Season lightly with salt. When cool pour the oil into a bottle for further use.

Courgette, Asparagus & Broad Bean Salad

Baby Spinach, Wild Rice, Broad Bean, Grilled Asparagus & Courgette Salad with Crispy Onions

Serves 2 as a main

A Couple of handfuls of baby spinch (washed)

200g broad beans

1 bunch asparagus

50g Wild Rice (try Tilda)

2 courgettes

Crispy fried onions (see above)

Olive oil

Sea salt

First put your rice in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and a good pinch of salt. Boil gently for about 20 minutes until pleasantly chewey to eat. Drain. Meanwhile put another pan of water on the boil. Snap amy woody end off the asparagus and drissel with a little olive oil and sea salt. Slice the cougette into flat ribbons. A mandolin is brilliant for this, otherwise use a sharp knife. The slices should be about the thickness of a £1. Heat your grill or light you BBQ. Once the water is boiling add the shelled broad bean and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately refresh in cold water. Whilst you are grilling the courgettes and the asparagus, slip the broad beans out of their skins. Put the drained rice in a large bowl and add a tablespoon of the onion oil and a large pinch of salt. Taste it and notice how the flavour has come alive. Add the spinach and broad beans and gently mix. Tip onto plates and pile the courgettes and the asparagus (cut into 3cm lenghths) on top and finish with some crispy onions.

Asparagus

Carrot, Chickpea & Tahini Salad with Coriander

Anyone who knows me will know that I make a lot of slaws. It is such a great way of using up root vegetables all the way through the winter and summer alike. Choose the largest of your carrots for grating and save the smaller ones for roasting whole. There are so many variations to this recipe it is endless but this is one of my favourites which uses Tahini instead of the much overused mayonnaise. Carrot and coriander has always been a winning combination for me (think soup) and so the Moroccan flavours in this dish all add up to a particularly delicious, easy and quick to prepare salad and great for a BBQ alongside some grilled chicken, steak or fish.

Carrot, Chickpea and Tahini Salad with Coriander

4 large bunched carrots

½ tin chickpeas

2 tbsp. Tahini

Juice of half a lemon

Sea salt

Small bunch of Coriander

Peel and grate the carrots. In a large bowl mix 2 tbsp. of Tahini with the juice of half a lemon and a good pinch of salt. Amazingly the Tahini just gets thicker as you add the juice so you will have to let it down with a little water. You want the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Check seasoning. Add the drained chickpeas and then the grated carrot and the chopped coriander. Stir well and serve.

Carrot & Coriander 1

Spanish Omelette

 Being a bank holiday and the kids off school I know I am not going to have a whole lot of time for cooking this week. I ordered a small veg box original which came packed with lovely new potatoes, bunched carrots, bunched onions, baby spinach, courgettes & asparagus.

Box 2

First up I knocked up a Spanish Omelette with the delicious new potatoes and bunched onions. Waxy potatoes are imperative for this dish and Riverford’s new potatoes are perfect, especially as they are quite large, which makes them easier to peel. A good little non-stick, oven proof frying pan is important for omelette too. Try googling “GreenPan Rio 20cms” and you can pick a great one up for as little as £15.99.

Next, I can’t tell you how much time you will save in the kitchen with a good Mandolin. I find that the simple Japanese ones are the best. The best value one I found was “Grunwerg Benriner Mandolin” at Amazon for £17.14 – just do watch your fingers.

Don’t forget to order Riverford’s brilliant organic eggs as well. When choosing an olive oil – think “Spain”. You want something fruity, sweet and mild. Riverford have just started selling a new Andalucian olive oil “Nunez de Prado extra virgin flowers olive oil” which sounds delicious but is a little pricy. I promise to give it a try and let you know if it is worth it!

As always, there are numerous variations to my recipes and a few of my favourites are to add red pepper, chorizo or spinach. Serve up with some of Riverford’s excellent salad leaves. I always find this is one of the few meals the whole family enjoys, even though my daughter, as always ,insists on plenty of Tomato Ketchup.

Spanish Omelette

Makes two thin or one fat omelette

400g New Potatoes

4 or 5 Bunched Onions (depending on size and how much you like onions)

6 Eggs

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Peel and slice your onions. Use the mandolin if you have one up until where the neck bends. Then you will have to use a knife. Slice as thin as possible right up to the green onion top. (You can use this thinly sliced in a salad like a spring onion.) Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a large saucepan, preferably on with a lid. (If not you can use a plate to cover it.) Sweat the onions on a low heat for about 5-10 minutes until melting but with no colour. Season with a good pinch of salt. Whilst the onions are cooking, peel the potatoes and thinly slice. A Mandolin is brilliant for this but if not use a knife. The potatoes should be about ¼ cm thick. When the onions are ready add the potatoes. Stir really well making sure each slice is separated and season with sea salt. Generously pour over some more olive oil, stir again and cover. Place over a low heat. After about 5 minutes remove the lid and carefully stir. Make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom but try not to break up the potato slices. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until a blunt knife will easily insert into the potato. Leave covered to cool. Preheat your oven to 170 ⁰C. Meanwhile break your eggs into a large bowl. Whisk to break up the eggs. There is no need to season the eggs as the potatoes and onions should have enough salt. Tip the potato mixture into a large colander over a bowl and drain off the excess oil. Heat your small non-stick frying pan on a very low heat. Add a little of the drained oil (you can use re-use the rest in other cooking) and wipe round the pan with a piece of kitchen paper. Add the egg mixture and spread out so that it is even. Cook until the edges of the omelette are just set and put in the middle of the oven. Cook until completely firm. There should be no liquid in the middle when pressed. Allow to cool before turning out.

Omelette 2 Shrunk