Black Eyed Pea & Raw Mango Salad

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We’ve moved into May and it’s not getting any cooler. And my earnestness to cook as little as humanly possible is not slowing down either.

As you may have inferred from the last few posts, summer in my kitchen = salad. I sometimes eat leftover salad for breakfast, with a cold hard-boiled egg sliced in. The great thing about salads is that if they if greens aren’t the core ingredient, chances are, they’ll keep longer. Which is why I use a lot of dried beans and legumes as a base for salad. Chickpeas are great, and rajma or kidney beans can also be used to make a great salad- especially if you want to switch up your routine from regular rajma-chawal.

Lobia or black eyed peas are as good a dried bean as any to make a salad. I usually cook them rajma-style, putting everything- the lobia, spices, tomatoes, et al- into the pressure cooker and letting it whistle away for a while, and then eating the curry with rice or roti.

But then that can get boring.

So I took it upon myself to make lobia fun and colourful! The peas are quite pretty to look at on their own- what with their little black eyes and creamy skin- and they are a solid structure for a filling salad.

Of course, when you begin to type black eyed peas into Google, you will invariably end up being directed to the band, not the legume. So after I Googled black eyed pea recipes, I found my way, as I usually do, to Food52. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother Googling when I can just search straight on Food52. An article for One Pot Of Black Eyed Peas, 5 Dinners linked me up with 101 Cookbooks. If there’s a tastier way to eat a whole grain, legume, leaf or egg, then Heidi Swanson has been there, done that.

Swanson paired her cooked beans with curry powder, red onions, lentils and ginger- so some spice and sharpness to balance the creamy cooked beans.

I decided to make it a little more tropical, adding raw mango or kairi, and some cucumbers and red onions. I like adding to kairi salads- it adds a nice bite and tartness and sharpness that lends an element of surprise 🙂 I wanted the flavours to be reminiscent of som tam, but without any soy or fish sauce. I stuck to a coconut-chilli-lime dressing and lots of fresh mint, cilantro and crushed toasted peanuts, for a little Thai flavour note.

 BLACK-EYED PEA & RAW MANGO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked and drained black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup cubed raw mango
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • A handful each of cilantro and fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 1/4 cup crushed toasted peanuts

For The Dressing

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp  lime juice
  • 1-2 tbsp honey/brown sugar/coconut sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Put all the salad ingredients in  large bowl and toss well to combine.
  • Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl until evenly incorporated.
  • Pour dressing over the salad and serve chilled.

Asian Purple Cabbage Slaw

IMG_0220There was this head of purple cabbage in my fridge that had been forlornly staring back at me for about a week. I bought it telling myself I’d make a shredded cabbage salad, but each day I’d plan a menu that just didn’t call for any kind of cabbage salad.

So finally, as the heat got to me and the desire to actually cook just melted away, I reached for the poor cabbage before it wilted to death and decided to show it some love- with a bright dressing, fresh mint and sharp red onions. The outer leaves had to be chucked, though- too much neglect.

I made this salad with a little inspiration from the Korean Slaw recipe in It’s All Good. This salad is quite refreshing and light on it’s own, and makes a great side to stir-fry or noodles. I mixed some of the salad with cold soba noodles and toasted sesame oil to make it a one-bowl meal. If you top that with a protein, like chicken, fish, beef or tofu, then you have yourself a pretty substantial meal.

I love the colours of the salad- once the dressing is mixed in, the purple cabbage bleeds a little bit of it’s colour into the onion, so everything is jewel-toned and glossy. And the mint is just gorgeous, both in terms of colour and flavour- be sure to use the freshest mint you can get your hands on.

ASIAN PURPLE CABBAGE SLAW

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups purple cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 large red onion, cut into half-moons
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds (you can use less, much less, in fact, about a teaspoon. I just love sesame seeds!)
  • A fistful of fresh mint, torn

For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it

METHOD

  • Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Toss the cabbage and onions together in a salad bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over, mix well. Scatter the sesame seeds and mint over the top and mix again. Top with a sprig of mint.
  • Allow the salad to sit covered in the fridge for 15 mins to half an hour to let the flavours absorb.

Rachel Allen’s Roasted Aubergine And Chickpea Salad

aubergine chickpea saladI’m a sucker for cookbooks, especially if they are on sale or at a great price. Even if they are the weirdest of titles, like Pooh’s Yummy Cookbook (I actually own this. I bought it ages ago, before my son was born, hoping to cook from it together when he was old enough.)

Some cookbooks you buy for the novelty factor- like the Momofuku MIlk Bar or Roberta’s cookbooks. Some cookbooks are for the purpose of learning and understanding more about a cuisine, like Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking or Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. And some you pick up because they’re on sale. Like I said, I love a great bargain. And when I come across a nice cookbook at a steal, it’ kind of hard to walk away. Which is how I ended up adding Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals to my collection.

The first time I ever saw Rachel Allen was when her show Bake! aired on TLC India. I (kind of) assumed that she was solely a baker and pastry chef, and sweet treats and breads were all she did. It’s only later when I watched her Home Cooking and Easy Meals shows that I realized she is an all-round cook.

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I enjoy her shows- especially the segments where she visits patisseries, bread makers, chocolatiers, farms & suppliers and interacts with them. I quite like her approach to food- it’s not scary or dicatorial, it’s not too complicated, and it’s not appallingly semi-homemade like Sandra Lee (who, I agree with Anthony Bourdain, is going to kill people with her food.)

I saw this book at a clearance sale and it was in great condition, and available at a really, really good price. There aren’t as many pictures as Bake! and All Things Sweet, but the recipes do stand up to their promise: they are easy, uncomplicated and from what I’ve tried so far, pretty flavourful.

The book is split into sections, with one dedicated to store-cupboard meals (using a lot of lentils, beans, pasta and chickpeas,) another called Fast & Fabulous dedicated to very very quick meals; another section with 5 ingredients or less; as well as a no-cook section (which has a great beetroot gazpacho recipe and a bunch of salads and tartines.)

I’m a fan of pared-down cooking. Just a few quality ingredients and bright seasoning that shines through. Since I’m all about salads these days, I made the chickpea and roasted aubergine salad. This one is from the Fast & Fabulous section of the book, recipes which take under 30 mins to prepare. The original recipe calls for rocket leaves, but I tore in some basil because I didn’t have any. I think cilantro would work really well, too.

CHICKPEA & AUBERGINE SALAD (From Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 400g cooked and drained chickpeas
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn

Dressing

  • 200 ml yoghurt (a little less than 1 cup of yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C, set aside a shallow baking dish for the vegetables.
  • In a bowl, toss the onion wedges and aubergines with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  • Tip the vegetables into a shallow baking dish and bake in the oven at 220 C for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the yogurt, paprika and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Once the vegetables are done cooking, assemble the salad. In a large salad bowl, add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the onions+aubergines, and mix well. Drizzle over the yogurt dressing, then scatter the torn basil leaves on top.