What’s cooking today: Spring salad of broad beans, mangetout, courgettes and spearmint
Blanching is the secret to a simple spring salad full of colour, texture and the promise of a hot summer to come.
This is all about skilful blanching – the beans out of their pods, the mangetout whole, and slices of courgette – to give them just the right amount of colour and crunch without them becoming soggy or too soft.
Broad beans bring to mind a gift that’s been wrapped in a big box but when you unwrap it and open it up, you have to remove layers before you find the actual small gift that has been disguised.
Broad beans need to be double podded. They are sometimes cooked and served with their inner pods still on. And they’re awful that way. You have to peel off the outer pods and also each one of the inner shells.
The pods when peeled off – after blanching them – reveal anything between three and six or so beans, but those are shells too, inside of which is a much smaller but bright green bean. In the end you might feel shortchanged; there’s really not much to them at all. But they do reward you with little pops of eating pleasure on the palate.
I used mangetout, but sugar snap peas, which are rounded and fuller than the flatter mangetout, can be used.
½ cup broad beans
20 or so mangetout, whole
4 medium courgettes, sliced
½ cup of chopped spearmint
3 garlic cloves, chopped very finely
1 round of feta, crumbled
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Blanch the whole broad beans in boiling water for about 90 seconds, remove and drain in a colander, then refresh under cold running water.
Bring the water back to the boil and blanch the mangetout for a minute, and drain and refresh as above.
Bring the water back to the boil again and blanch the courgette slices. These will take very little time, less than a minute. Refresh as above.
Remove the pods of the broad beans and gently squeeze out the tiny green beans into a bowl. Discard the pods and shells.
Chop mint finely but leave a few tiny leaves whole to scatter on top.
Pour the olive oil into a salad bowl and add the chopped garlic, chopped mint, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
Pat all the vegetables dry and add them to the bowl. Use two wooden spoons or silicone spatulas to toss everything gently so that the dressing elements spread throughout. Crumble feta on top and a few small mint leaves. I served it as a side salad for a braai, but it would also make a lovely starter for a spring lunch. DM
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