Mediterranean Bean Salad

 

Yay for sunshine, yay for summer and yay for the great outdoors! June and July are peak picnic time of year for us, the diary is littered with sports days, festivals, outdoor theatre showings and general outdoorsy stuff. Let’s try and forget that the recent ‘heatwave’ has sadly ended and we seem to have entered a premature damp and drizzly Autumn. But to be honest, if you are British bad weather is far from unusual and we do all the same summery outdoorsy stuff, we just wear wellies and raincoats instead of shorts and flip-flops!

I do struggle with finding interesting, portable and friendly picnic foods that please the whole family. It’s not just the varied dietary requirements, but also a good dose of general fussiness. I seem to be on a constant mission to find family friendly packable lunches.

I’m a massive salad fan, I just love the freshness, colours and textures you find in salads. In fact I could eat salad almost every day. Now, I might love salads but my children are less keen. They have some favourites, but faced with a bowl of dressed lettuce or some unusual vegetables they do spectacularly badly! Not a helpful situation when planning multiple picnics. This Mediterranean bean salad though is hard to dislike. The beans, once marinaded are such a great carrier of flavour, and the Mediterranean embellishments are like jewels of flavour, although you may want to serve the olives on the side if you have some fussy palates around đŸ˜‰

Mediterranean Bean Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

2 tins of beans, I used Cannellini beans

2 tbsp sherry or wine vinegar

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

a good grind of black pepper

4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 onion, sliced

handful of pitted black olives [optional]

small bunch of basil

  1. Drain the beans (reserving the water or ‘aquafaba’ to make meringues) and rinse
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the beans and leave to marinate for half an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, place the onions in a colander and pour over a kettle of water. Place in a bowl and pour over a mixture of 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp water and a pink of sugar. Set aside to quickly pickle. If you use red onion you’ll get pretty pink onions after pickling.
  4. Add all the other ingredients to the marinated beans. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Enjoy.

Mexican Rice and Beans Salad

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The sun is shining and it’s starting to feel a little warmer – yippee! After the long dark, cold months there suddenly light and colour, oh what joy! I was intending on cooking another hearty vegetable soup for lunch but the sun’s warming rays made me quickly shelve that idea. What we needed was some vibrancy and colour; some freshness and zing to match the weather.

So a quick rummage in the larder later and I had the ingredients I needed for this wonderfully zingy and alive rice and bean salad, which also handily continued the Mexican theme that started with pinto bean soup the other day.

The vegetables add jewels of colour and flavour and the lime makes the dish zing. Wonderful eaten on the day, this salad also keeps well for a couple of days. For me, however, its best use is as the base of a delicious taco salad (pictured below): rice and beans salad combined with fresh salsa, lettuce, avocado, dairy-free soured cream and topped with crunchy tortilla chips and coriander – divine!

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Mexican Rice and Beans Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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serves at least 4

  • 1 cup of rice, cooked
  • 1/2 tin of beans, ideally borlotti or pinto
  • 1/2 tin sweetcorn
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped into small dice
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle Tabasco sauce, or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

– Whisk together the lime, oil and salt (and chipotle sauce, if using)
– Pour over the other ingredients and mix well

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Warm Rice and Mexican Bean Salad

This was the salad we had to accompany our Opening Ceremony BBQ. In my experience ‘the veggie’ always does rather badly at BBQs….. Almost always an after-thought, and then there’s the issue of meaty/fishy BBQ grills….. This is also very much the case for anyone with allergies, let’s hope the unsafe marinade doesn’t drip onto the safe grill area.

A stunning salad can always cheer up the proceedings and bring to life the sad almost burnt veggie skewer. This little beauty of a salad is a mexican style meal in a bowl…. And I guarantee you’ll eat better than those tucking into the frazzled BBQ offerings!

Warm Rice and Mexican Bean Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tin borlotti beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsps chipotle chilli paste
  • 2 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of coriander, chopped

– Cook the rice and place in a bowl.

– Heat some oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and chipotle puree and gently cook out.

– Add the beans, honey and vinegar. Cook until the beans are nicely warmed through. Check the seasoning and pour over the rice in the serving bowl.

– Make the salsa of avocado, spring onion, lime juice, coriander and seasoning. Taste.

– Scatter over the beans and eat straight away.

Sweet Balsamic Bean Salad

This sweet and tangy bean salad knocks the socks off any shop bought (or horrors of horrors, tinned) offering. You can easily mix and match the beans, using up half tins of beans that may be hanging around. The fresh green beans and tomatoes really add to the final dish, but just make it with tinned/soaked dried beans if thats all you have and you don’t fancy a trip to the shops. I’m thinking this would be a great BBQ accompaniment, should it ever be warm enough this summer!

This recipe is inspired by the Sugarbeans recipe in Celia Brooks Brown’s Vegetarian Foodscape but has been altered to suit my taste, and had the sugar content toned down quite a lot!

Sweet Balsamic Bean Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes a bowlful!

  • 2 tins mixed beans (I used 1 tin of mixed beans, 1/2 tin of sweetcorn and 1/2 tin of black beans)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • handful of green beans, blanched
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • ground pepper, to taste

– Warm the beans up so they absorb the dressing flavours, I bring them to a simmer in a little water and then drain.

– Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the balsamic, olive oil, sugar and seasoning

– Tip in the warm, drained beans and stir to combine.

– Leave to cool, then stir in the remaining ingredients.

– The salad is fairly robust and will easily keep for a few days in the fridge.