I enjoy cooking. Sometimes. I wouldn’t call myself one of the most accomplished cooks ever, but I do know my way around a spice cupboard well to put together some of what my mum taught me. I can put flavours together pretty well. I can cook a meal for a group of friends or family without stressing too much.
Will quite happily admit I am not on the same level as cooking as the OH. He is a GREAT cook. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Vegetables, pulses, lentils, meats. Such a good cook.
So it’s a little bit daunting when I cook for him. On the rare occasions that I do. He just enjoys it so much and he’s so good at it, I let him have at it! (I’m not going to deprive myself of the food he makes.)
BUT there’s one thing that I make that is apparently the best thing I have ever made. And that makes me a little bit proud. This is something I’ve been making for years. Not one of my own recipes, but a mum-inspired one. (They’re the best, right?)
A very, very long time ago, on a family holiday in Spain we were sitting waiting for our hotel room to be ready. In the lobby of the hotel we’re all sitting there, around a nice little table and we’re served some drinks and a little bit of tapas. In among the tapas is this cold bean mixture. It’s got some olive oil, butter beans, tomatoes, herbs and tastes incredible.
We got back home and mum wanted to recreate it. And recreate it she did. It’s now became a staple in the family. Mention the words “bean salad” and we all know exactly what those two single words mean.
One day I make my bean salad for dinner. But this is the kind of dish you can’t just make for one person. You have to make enough to last a few days. It’s just what happens. I have made a few minor changes to my mum’s original recipe. To suit changing tastes I guess.
What’s in this bean salad?
There are a few basic ingredients that go into it every time:
- Brown bulgar wheat
- Pinto or kidney beans (or both)
- Chopped tomatoes
- Red onion
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Dried oregano (Fresh from the markets in Portugal. Courtesy of mum.)
- Generous amount of fresh Parsley
- Generous amount of black pepper
- Roughly chopped capers
- Garlic oil
- Salt to taste
Those are the basics. All chopped and chucked in a bowl. The garlic oil I make myself by warming up a mixture of peanut and olive oil on the stove with, say, 3 cloves of sliced garlic. Fry them up until they’re just about golden. Careful not to burn them! Amount of garlic depends on how big a batch of salad I’m making.
Then there are the added optionals. Well, these are definitely in the salad, but they don’t have to all be in it:
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
- Chick peas
- Salt & pepper tofu
- Boiled eggs
- Assorted salad leaves
I like having some sort of greens in the salad. All cooked of course. Steamed or boiled. The green beans are a “mums Sweetcorn and bell peppers are nice for a bit of sweetness and crunch. Quartered boiled eggs, tuna and tofu are good as toppers – just to give the salad a bit more bulk. You could even add some chicken to it if you wanted to.
If you want to add more greens and give it more of a salad feel, pop this all on a bed of salad leaves – rocket, baby spinach, radicchio, iceberg lettuce, anything! And the cilantro is something I add in if I haven’t got enough/any parsley.
And that’s it. Back in England, this was one of my favourite summer salads to make. It’s substantial, but not heavy and amazing cold and straight out of the fridge. Now being in Bahrain, the land of eternal heat and humidity, it’s great to have every other week. Or every week. Like 3 times in the week because I can’t make a small batch of this stuff.
(You know what? One thing I know I can beat my OH at hands down in the kitchen? BAKING. Well, cakes, muffins and pies. Maybe not breads. Oh and I can definitely make better roti than him! I’ll take my wins where I can get them.)