One of the problems of having as many cookbooks as I have, and subscribing to as many cookery magazines as I do . . . is that you oft-times see a recipe that you want to try and then when you have the ingredients all in to do it . . . you can't find the darned recipe!! That is always happening to me and it's quite maddening in the end . . . I think I need to have a notebook that I write down the ones I want to try in, along with the name of the book or magazine and the page number . . .
Somewhere over the past several weeks, either here or in Canada, I had seen a salad recipe that had lovely fresh peas, snow beas, beans and asparagus in it . . . I couldn't remember if there was any couscous or another grain in it or not . . . or even what the dressing was. I could only remember that it was beautiful to look at, and sounded delicious.
I could not find the recipe . . . and so I kind of winged it and came up with this one here today, which turned out to be totally beautiful and totally delicious too!! I loved the colours and the flavours . . . this is a new favourite for us. I love it when that happens!
I had some really lovely fresh vegetables . . . some which I had grown in our garden, and others which I picked up at the shops yesterday. (I've been shopping at Aldi lately and they have vastly improved in their quality of goods since I moved over here 12 years ago. Their produce used to be minging . . . but it's now very good. Bonus! You can save money and eat pretty decently at the same time! Result!!)
I simply steamed my vegetables lightly, once I had prepared them . . . keeping that beautiful green colour . . . I love my veg crispy tender. Todd actually likes his a bit more well done . . . but in a salad . . . you do NOT want well done veg! (Actually you never want them really well done, unless you are cooking a stew . . . but tell that to the man. He was brought up on school dinners during WW2 and has a must be cooked to death mentality when it comes to veg. I am still trying to convert him after 12 years.)
I created a beautifully flavoured lemon and mint vinaigrette to toss them in and it all went so beautifully together . . . wonderful flavours, textures and colours. You don't want the veg to sit in the dressing for too long, or it will change the colour somewhat. It will still taste good, but not be as pretty.
I just loved this . . . and Todd . . . well, he ate all his up, so it couldn't have tasted all that bad to him! Seriously, he did like it too! This is a most delicious way to get in some of your five a day!
*Summer Salad of Peas, Beans and Asparagus
with a Lemon & Mint Vinaigrette*
This is such a pretty green colour and the dressing is fabulous. This is something I threw together with what I had to hand and it's become a true favourite. The flavours are delightfully fresh and moreish.
For the dressing:
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS chopped fresh mint
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the vegetables:
1 small packet of snow peas, washed and strings removed
(about 3/4 cup)
1 small packet of haricot verts, washed and trimmed
(about 1 1/2 cups)
1 bunch of thin asparagus, trimmed and washed
a handful of fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Set aside. (You can also shake them together in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.)
Have a steamer basket ready over fast simmering water. (You will need a lid)
Slice the snow peas on the diagonal into two or three pieces, depending on the size. Slice the haricot vert diagonally into several pieces as well. Slice the asparagus and trim off the pointy bits on the stem.
Drop the haricot verts into the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes. Drop in the asparagus. Cover and steam for a further minute. Drop in the snow peas and fresh peas. Cover and steam for 1 to 2 minutes longer. You want vegetables that are bright green and crispy tender. Drop all into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, and then drain well. Hold until you are ready to serve the salad.
When ready to eat, toss the crispy tender vegetables in the dressing and serve immediately.
Note: do not let the vegetables linger too long in the dressing as the colour will be compromised. They will still taste wonderful, but not be as pretty.