05 July 2010

Avocado, Broad Bean, and Quinoa Salad

I'd admired Yotam Ottolenghi from a distance for some years, never fully committing to actually making any of his recipes. But I was always curious to read The New Vegetarian column each week in the Guardian magazine, marveling at Mr. Ottolenghi's creativity and wondering where he got his ideas. Combining  polenta and gooseberries? Candied beetroot and yuzu? Radish bruchetta!?! 

It wasn't until I ordered the Ottolenghi cookbook, shipped all the way from the UK and unfortunately measured in metric, that I actually made any of his dishes. At this stage, I discovered the presence of Ottolenghi's partner in cooking, Sami Tamimi, and that their innovation is the product of a marriage of Israeli and Palestinian cooking traditions. Three cheers, I say. 

Turns out Mr. Ottolenghi is not even a vegetarian, but rather finds a unique use for pretty much every vegetable you can think of, while also showing his skills as a baker and demonstrating some mouth watering meaty recipes. Still, every salad in the book is as gorgeous looking and creative as I remembered from those weekly columns. 
I was pretty thrilled then when the second, solo cookbook was published, aptly named Plenty. I rushed to make this recipe, featuring my blog namesake. Sadly, when I trudged to the farmers market to search for late season beans, all I could find was a neglected little box, overlooked by mounds of sugar snaps and green beans, labeled Favas. I really think these poor beauties need to be marketed better (hint: name change!). I stocked up with the idea of maybe freezing a bunch for later in the summer, but in the end the pods didn't yield much and I threw them all into this lovely, lemony-cuminy salad. I would make it again and again, but unfortunately will likely be substituting edamame for my preferred bb's.   
One other note, the original recipe calls for purple radish cress or baby purple basil, I couldn't find the first and forgot all about the purple basil during the first trip to the farmers market (list, bring a LIST), so substituted plain old green basil. This tasted great, but I think the sensory appeal of the salad would be enhanced nicely with the addition of purple. 

Avocado, Broad Beans, and Quinoa
Adapted from Plenty
serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup shelled broad beans (or substitute shelled edamame and adjust cooking time)
1 medium lemon
1/2 ripe avocado
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup heaping radishes, halved or quartered
handful of basil or approximately 2 tbsp 
1 heaping tsp ground cumin 
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp chili flakes, or to taste
salt and ground pepper

Wash and drain quinoa and then add to a large saucepan. Toast for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat, stirring till water is removed and grains seem somewhat "toasted". Add 1 cup plus 2 tbsp water and turn heat to high, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer till just cooked and light and fluffy -- about 20 minutes. Dump into a colander to cool. 

While quinoa is cooking. Shell broad beans and separate tiny ones from large. Bring small pot of water to boil and cook beans for about 3-4 minutes. For the last minute add in the smaller beans. Drain and rinse with cold water. Slip larger beans from skins.
Segment lemon and squeeze juice from membrane into a large bowl. Peel and pit avocado and slice into thin pieces and add to bowl with the lemon. 

Add cooled quinoa, beans, garlic, radish, 1/2 of basil, cumin, oil, salt and pepper and toss gently. Divide into two plates and garnish with more basil. Serve immediately. 

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