Mixed bean and nut salad

This is another one of my brother, Hugh’s, recipes. Hugh tends to cook very healthy, high-protein food which tastes amazing, and when I was back in Sydney he made this for the whole family a couple of times. You can vary the ingredients as you like, and add different vegetables depending on the season, or take out the eggs if you want to make it vegan. (For a vegan dressing option, see below.) The recipe below serves 6-8 people as a main meal, and can be kept (covered) in the refrigerator for up to a week. This is one of the first things I intend to make when we move into our new apartment, as it can provide a cheap, satisfying lunch that you can easily throw together while working at home.

Can of butter beans

Mixed bean and nut salad

2-3 cans (400g) chickpeas

1 can butter beans (never add more than one can as these are soft and so will break up too easily)

1 can cannellini beans

1 can (410g) corn kernels

1 red onion

2 red peppers (capsicums)

50g pine nuts

50g sunflower seeds

3-4 hard-boiled eggs

150g walnuts

50g macadamia nuts

1 small bunch of basil, or 1/2 a large bunch

2 ripe avocados

2-3 large tomatoes

Begin by putting on the eggs to boil until hard: put them in cold water and bring to boil – allow to simmer for roughly 8 minutes. There are much fancier ways to boil an egg out there, but I have to admit that so far, I haven’t been bothered enough to try any of them. Place in cold water and put to one side until cooled completely.

Place the pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a large frying pan, and toast over medium heat, shaking constantly so they don’t burn. The pine nuts will be browned and smelling wonderful when they are done. Put to one side.

Washing mixed beans

Drain beans and corn and rinse (you don’t want the flavour from the tin). Mix the beans together with your hands while you are washing them, because if you use a paddle or a spoon it will mush the butter beans. Put the mixed beans and corn in a large serving bowl – this will be where you construct the rest of your salad.

Thinly slice the red onion. Slice the red peppers (capsicum) and toss both through the beans.

Cut the eggs into quarters. Roughly chop the walnuts and macadamia nuts. Roughly chop the basil. Mix everything together.

Finally, chop the tomatoes into eighths, and the avocado into small cubes. Only add these at the last minute as they will get mushed up easily. If you are going to be keeping some for later then chop them to order and add them every time you serve, as the avocado will discolour if left in the fridge for too long. Top with the pine nuts and sunflower seeds, and serve with lots of good-quality mayonnaise, or with vegan dressing (see below).

High-protein bean salad

Vegan dressing

4 tablespoons grain mustard

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons white sugar

The juice of half a lemon

Place in a glass and stir until combined or, if you have a clean jar, put ingredients in the jar and shake to combine. Mixing dressings in jars is not only easier, but if you make too much you can easily keep it for later.

Bean and vetegable salasAs mentioned, you can really add anything you like to this, or take out anything you don’t like. You just need to make sure that you have a critical mass of ingredients that are not soft, or will not mush easily. You could add some good quality tuna, celery, chopped carrots, and any nuts or seeds that take your fancy.

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