November 5 - 11, 2023: Issue 604


Spring Is Salad Season

If you crave the fresh light stuff here are a few inspirations for your Spring table - all using now in Season vegetables and fruits which means they're not only high quality ingredients but also at seasonal prices - cheap!:

Orzo Pasta Salad
½ cucumber, chopped
½ cup feta cheese
4 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups orzo
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 cups red teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
¾ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put broth in a large pot and cover. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender (6-8 minutes) stirring frequently. Drain orzo and place in a large mixing bowl. Let the orzo cool completely. Mix the orzo with the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, basil and mint. Add ¼ of the dressing to the salad and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat. When ready to eat add remaining dressing and mix well. 
To make the dressing:
In a glass jar with lid or blender mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper until mixed well. Gradually add in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Avocado Potato Salad
2 avocados diced
juice of 1 lemon
5 large potatoes (boiled, cooled, peeled, and diced) or 10 new potatoes, cooked, quartered – leave skins on for extra goodness
3 eggs (boiled, cooled, peeled, and diced)
1/2 cup bread and butter pickles (diced)
2 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp season salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix avocados and lemon juice in a large bowl to prevent browning. Add potatoes, eggs, and pickles. Stir gently to combine. In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients. Add to potato mixture and stir. If your potato salad seems dry, add a touch more milk to make it creamy. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Enjoy.
By The Country Chic Cottage

Asian Cucumber Salad
1 large cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, thinly sliced
½ cup of rice vinegar
¼ cup of sugar
1 tsp. of thai chili garlic sauce
pinch of salt

In a microwavable bowl add rice vinegar, sugar, chili garlic sauce, and salt. Heat the bowl in the microwave for 40 seconds. Stir the vinaigrette until the sugar is completely dissolved. In a medium size bowl add the cucumber, carrot and red onion. Pour vinaigrette over the cucumber mixture and toss until the salad is coated in the vinaigrette. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Asparagus, Feta and Couscous Salad
2 cups couscous
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
250 grams feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
Black pepper, to taste

Cook couscous according to package instructions. Put aside and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, place asparagus in a steamer over boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool. Toss the asparagus, tomatoes, and feta with couscous. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper and toss to incorporate.

Niçoise salad
1 small baguette (1-2 days old preferably)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 large eggs
20 green beans, trimmed and tailed
4 small tomatoes (fresh, semi-dried or confit)
4 small kipfler potatoes, boiled and sliced into discs
4 teaspoons small capers
1 red onion, cut into 5 mm rings
50 g olives
200 ml olive oil
40 ml sherry vinegar
4 x 100 g tuna Fillets (substitute red mullet, kingfish or other substitute if tuna at same price as a gram of gold)
4 tablespoons baby rocket
1 lemon, halved
10 anchovy fillets, cut lengthwise into 2 or 3 thin slivers each

Preheat the oven to 180ºC . Slice the baguette into 1 cm (1/2 in) thick slices and lay on a flat baking tray. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5-6 minutes, then remove from oven and rub slices with the garlic clove. Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Take out after 6 minutes, when the yolks will still be soft. Set aside and keep warm. Place another pan on the stove, fill with 2 litres (5 pints) of salted water and bring to the boil. Add the beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove beans and refresh by placing in iced water for 2 minutes, until cold. In a bowl combine the croutons, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, capers, onion and olives, season well. In a separate bowl or jar, mix the 200 ml olive oil and sherry vinegar well.

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Season the fish and brush with more olive oil. Reduce heat low, place the fish skin side down in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn fish over and cook for a further minute. Toss the salad together with the dressing  (traditions states this should actually be laid out on a bed of lettuce or tomatoes and in layers with topping ingredients being the eggs and anchovies). To serve, set out 4 flat bowls or plates and place a fillet in the centre of each. Arrange the salad neatly around the fish. Peel the eggs carefully, cut in half, season them and arrange on top of the salad. Scatter baby rocket over and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.

Marinated Three Bean Salad
adapted from The World’s Healthiest Foods
This is a great dish to add to your Healthiest Way of Eating because you can keep in your refrigerator for 3-4 days and its flavour gets better each day! Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

2 Tablespoons minced onion
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups or 1 15 oz can (BPA-free) lima beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups or 1 15 oz can (BPA-free) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large ripe fresh tomato, chopped
Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Mince onion and press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out its health-promoting benefits. Fill the bottom of a steamer with 2 inches of water. While steam is building up in steamer cut green beans. Steam for 5 minutes. A fork should pierce them easily when they are done. Drain and rinse canned beans. Let beans sit in colander for another couple of minutes to drain excess water.
Mix all ingredients together. If you have the time, let it marinate for at least 15 minutes. It can keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Keep on hand for a quick meal. Serves 4

Green beans and other beans, such are kidney beans, navy beans and black beans are all known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are all referred to as "common beans," probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru. From there, they spread throughout South and Central America by migrating Indian tribes. They were introduced into Europe around the 16th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World, and subsequently were spread through many other parts of the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders.  Green beans are found in two major groups, bush beans and pole beans.  Bush beans are short plants, growing to approximately two feet in height, without requiring supports. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then cease to produce. Gardeners may grow more than one crop of bush beans in a season. Pole beans have a climbing habit and produce a twisting vine . Runner beans have a similar habit but are a different species of bean. Over 130 varieties of green bean are known. Beans contain high concentrations of lectins and may be harmful if consumed in excess in uncooked or improperly cooked form.

Phaseolus coccineus; Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany. Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber

Phaseolus coccineus, known as runner bean, scarlet runner bean, or multiflora bean, is a plant in theFabaceae family. Runner beans have also been called "Oregon Lima Bean", and in Nahuatl "ayocotl" or in Spanish "ayocote". It differs from the common bean (P. vulgaris) in several respects: the cotyledons stay in the ground during germination, and the plant is a perennial vine with tuberous roots (though it is usually treated as an annual). This species originated from the mountains of Central America. Most varieties have red flowers and multicolored seeds (though some have white flowers and white seeds), and they are often grown as ornamental plants.

The vine can grow to two meters (6 feet) or more in length. The green pods are edible whole before they become fibrous, and the seeds can be used fresh or as dried beans.