'Eat your greens too, darling one,' I suggest to my Peter in a gentle, mother hen fashion. Sometimes he forgets about them and then they've gone cold, which seems to give him the perfect excuse to push them to the side of the plate.
But I dislike that kind of waste and, besides, eating plenty of vegies not only contributes to good health, but also protects against diseases and helps maintain a healthy weight. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.
Call me crazy, I've always eaten my vegetables first. Oh, except for my mum's green bean stew or zöldbabfőzelék, which she would nag me to eat when I was a child. I'm sounding like my mother now, I know!
Always on the look out for delicious new vegetable dishes, I turned to Mr Ottolenghi for a suitable recipe and adapted his green bean salad with mustard seeds and tarragon, which appears in his gorgeous book, Plenty. My Peter says 'NO' to mustard in any shape or form, so I've omitted the mustard seeds. However, if you wish to add them, fry them in a little oil and when they begin to pop, pour the oil over the greens.
To be perfectly honest, I've suggested that a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil might be optional, as this platter of greens is perfectly delicious with it, too. But I'll leave it to your discretion and taste.
BEANS AND PEAS WITH BABY CHARD AND SPINACH
200g green beans, topped and tailed
50g snow peas, topped and tailed
85g peas, fresh or frozen
a bowl of iced water (to chill the greens after cooking)
1 cup of baby chard leaves
1 cup of baby spinach leaves
baby coriander, parsley sprigs or tarragon sprigs
½ small red onion or French eschalot, thinly sliced
sea salt (to dress the onion)
black sesame seeds
zest of ½ a lemon, finely chopped
lemon juice, to dress, optional
extra virgin olive oil, to dress, optional
sea salt and black pepper, to season
Blanch the green beans in a saucepan of boiling water for just 3-4 minutes; at the last minute add the snow peas and the frozen or fresh peas. Drain immediately and plunge the greens into the bowl of iced water. This will stop them from cooking further and will also keep them bright and fresh. Drain in a colander, and then pat them dry with paper towelling.
Meanwhile, rinse the baby chard and spinach leaves. Drain in a colander, and then gently pat them dry with paper towelling. Sprinkle the thinly sliced red onion or eschalot with a little sea salt and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then rinse the eschalot slices with cold water, drain and pat dry.
Arrange the greens in layers on a serving platter, scattering them artistically. Sprinkle with the baby coriander, parsley and or tarragon sprigs, then the softened onion/eschalot slices, followed by the black sesame seeds and lemon zest. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. If you choose to dress the salad, combine the lemon juice with some extra virgin olive oil and dress immediately before serving. Serves 4-6.
Tell me dear readers, do you eat your greens first, as I do? And do you need to be reminded?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.