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FOOD Red’s healthy bean salad


Bean salads are a healthy way of getting hunger-satisfying protein.
?Bean salads are a healthy way of getting hunger-satisfying protein.

Lighter weather, lighter meals

Redmond Cabot

A change in weather habits inevitably brings it own changes in eating habits. Lighter, fresher  eating is in for the season. The recipe today is a really easy, very nutritious light meal that can be pulled together quickly. More importantly, it’s a template that gives you scope to add in your ‘personal touch’.
As a chiseller, for some reason I never had  a great grá for beans and the like. Besides the tins of Heinz that adorned every Irish cupboard, I thought beans were alien, foreign. I also used to think they were full of carbs. How wrong I was … Beans are a valuable source of protein and nutrients. They from an important part in our food pyramid.
Beans can be found in tins (these will have a lower nutritional value than boiling them fresh) or you can buy dried beans in shops and boil them up yourself.
I’m not expecting everyone to soak and boil, or even sprout their own beans here. Think of using tinned beans as a first step along the ladder! Obviously they are more processed and not as fresh, but they are still a starting point for this fresh and healthy meal. Basically you are using a couple of cans of tinned beans and dressing it up with some fresh produce.
Some time last year little Penny was wandering in the polytunnel and in her own style ended up sowing a patch of it with chive seeds. The surprise crop has just arrived, and their tangy, pungent flavour and vibrant green colour are a great accompaniment to luncheon dishes.
If you don’t have little Penny wandering around with open seed packets, you can of course jazz this bean salad up in your own style – sweet corn (why not buy a fresh ear and enjoy the crunchiness straight from the source?), scallions and chunks of beetroot can all add your own twist to the dish. New-season butterbeans, or quite small cubes of courgette fried in oil and garlic, are also welcome additions. For the meaties, you can add in chopped interesting sausages like Toulouse, or chunks of cooked pork that was marinated. Remember, the plate is the canvas, and you are the artist!
For the next level, it’s all about sprouting beans and sprouting seeds for meals. When a plant sprouts it is bursting full of embryonic goodness and new growth enzymes that are just pure goodness to our bodies. A sprouting been or seed is of massive nutritional value to our bodies. Trust me, it’s going be the next big thing, and even our farmers in Connacht will be eating sprouting beans and seed in years to come! To sprout  beans or seeds, just soak them in water over-night, wash and leave in a bowl covered with tea-towel, washing once a day until the sprouts appear. You do not cook sprouts at any stage.

Red’s healthy bean salad
A good recipe to start with; easy and compact. You will see how the lime, sugar and herbs affect the meat even before any cooking takes place. Drop the chillies if they don’t suit you.

What you need

  • 1 can broad beans
  • 1 can haricot beans
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • Olive or rape-seed oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Seasoning
  • Your own additions

What you do
This is the base of a healthy meal – you can add your own additions. Open your cans, strain the juices, spoon out into salad bowl, and begin the process of decoration. Boil your egg hard, take off the shell and cut the egg into discs to place around the salad. Chop your pepper into long slivers and decorate. Add some green colour with chives or scallions. Pour over your oil and vinegar to taste.
We toasted up some sesame seeds to scatter over the top of the salad, adding a textural, nutty contrast to the soft bean.
Serve out on plates with toasted brown bread, crusty or soda. Or fry some potatoes and serve with smoked mackerel.

> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.