This salad is simplicity itself. But sometimes simplicity is the key. Whether it is because you are short of time or in the mood for something soothing on your palate, or just wanting to create something with maximum flavour but minimum effort; I find that a colourful salad, rich in colour, texture and taste makes for the ultimate simple supper.
So much of what we do in life leaves us juggling our time and energy, and with so many demands on ourselves I think we all need something in our lives that allows us step out of our daily frustrations and leaves us to just be in the moment. I believe that psychologists would call this phenomena ‘flow’ – a process that pulls us in to the here and now, focuses our mind and completely engages our attention. In these moments our body and minds ‘flow’ together in total absorption and creates a pleasurable harmony that stills the mind and calms our souls. For me, ‘flow’ is something that occurs when I cook. From methodical, meditative chopping to the soothing, swirl of stirring; cooking allows me to relax from my daily challenges and simply create. I cannot pretend that it is always like this: when a cake collapses or my biscuits wont bind there isn’t much in the way of zen like calm by my stove. But as in life, it is practice and patience (and quite a lot of good will!) that leads me to those bliss like moments, when my kitchen is filled with delectable scents, music plays in the back ground and I find myself cooking to my heart’s content without a care in sight.
This salad makes for part of a wonderful lunch or supper. I like to serve it with some of my homemade falafel and a good dollop of hoummous, but it is also delicious with grilled chicken or lamb. With summer surely heading our way, I think this makes for a great addition to barbeque food and you could easily roast the peppers on the barbeque instead of over the gas flame.
ROASTED PEPPER & GREEN BEAN SALAD
For the salad
2 red peppers
300g french beans
A handful of flaked almonds
A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp soft brown sugar
Begin by making the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and then add the crushed garlic, seasoning and brown sugar. Continue to whisk until fully amalgamated. A great tip for preparing dressing is to use a clean jam jar with its lid. Place all of the ingredients in to the jar, screw on the lid and then shake vigorously until combined. You can then keep the dressing in the fridge until you are ready to use it, remembering to shake it again before pouring. If you have any leftover you can safely store it in the fridge for a week or two.
Next, prepare the peppers for the salad. Preheat the oven to 220c (200c Fan) and place the whole peppers on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the whole peppers inside a clear plastic bag, seal well and leave for 2 – 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and slide off their skins – the blackened skin should just slip off - peel and discard any seeds and stalk, then slice lengthways in to ½ cm width strips.
Heat a saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, scatter the flaked almonds in to a wide frying pan and heat over a medium flame - shaking the pan regularly to ensure the nuts do not catch – until they are toasted and golden. Set aside to cool down. Once the water is boiling, tip in the beans and cook for 4 minutes exactly, remove from the heat and drain thoroughly.
In a large serving bowl combine the sliced peppers, chopped parsley and the french beans. Pour over the dressing and toss until the salad is evenly coated and glossy. Scatter over the flaked almonds and serve.