I spend a lot of time thinking about food. The process by which these ideas come together and end up on a plate is sort of magical. I think its similar in some ways to composing an essay. You have a question: what do I want to eat tonight? I usually have vague ideas about flavors, and some sort of sense as to what role the food needs to perform. Yesterday I craved beetroot. Having subsided on mince pies and buttery noodles for a week I needed something virtuous and satisfying. I often have more ideas than I can fit onto one plate; yesterday I wanted roasted Chantenay Carrots and prawns too. Somehow, by the time I’d reached the biscuit isle of Sainsbury’s, the building blocks for decent plate of food were there in my basket. I had actually been looking for quinoa, thinking its magical superfood properties would make up for a week of crap, but they had no idea what I was talking about in Sainsbury’s and only had it in ready made salads in Marks & Spencer. A mixture of kidney, soya and black eyed beans seemed like a decent substitute in terms of nutty flavor and feel good properties.
I actually have to shop very differently here than I would at home, because I’m starting from a non existent pantry. I’ve a fair selection of oils and condiments now, but still haven’t got any balsamic vinegar. It’s frustrating to realise that you actually needed to buy a lemon or some garlic or some dried oregano. The upside is that I am not tempted to bung lots of other stuff in when I know what I want is a simple salad. This is the perfect thing to make when you’re in the mood for some gentle chopping.
Peel and dice 3 carrots. Roughly chop 4 bulbs cooked beetroot. Fineley slice the bulbs of 4 spring onions. Put them all in a big bowl and add 220g mixed beans. Tear up a handful of mint leaves and add themtoo.
In a smaller bowl, mix toegther 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp grainy mustard, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp runny honey. This gives a tart dressing, which I love, but feel free to alter the proportions if you prefer something milder.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together gently with two spoons. This looks much nicer if the beans and beetroot haven’t been squashed.