Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: A Warm Salad of French Beans with Gingery Noodles

Warm Japanese noodles and bright green vegetables, tossed with a sharp, gingery dressing make a quick and delicious dinner. The whole thing comes together in under 25 minutes. I think you could add some toasted, chopped peanuts to the top, as well.
The dressing is also very good tossed onto shredded cabbage and kohlrabi, for a punchy slaw.

Image from the Guardian

Charred broccoli and bean soba noodle salad
Serves 2

Ingredients
For the salad

450g French beans and/or broccoli (any combination)
2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
¼ tsp salt
200g soba noodles, or a mixture of soba and udon noodles
¼ cup Thai basil and/or mint leaves, roughly chopped

For the dressing
4 spring onions (use the whole thing), finely chopped
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar (Meera Sodha specifies black Chingkiang vinegar)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp brown rice (or maple) syrup
1 dried red chilli, finely chopped, or de-seeded and then left whole if you’d like the option of removing it later

Preparation
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.

Trim the broccoli into long, slender strips. You can include the green leaves if you like, as well. Top and tail the beans.

Place the broccoli and/or beans and onion wedges on a baking tray. Drizzle over the oil and sprinkle with salt. Mix with your hands, and roast for 10-20 minutes, until they are a bit charred and the leaves have become crispy.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil, then cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water, then leave to one side to drain.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then take off the heat and put to one side.

When the vegetables have cooked, tip them into a serving bowl, add the drained noodles and dressing, and toss. Toss in the herbs, and serve while the vegetables are still a little warm.

Recipe adapted from Meera Sodha, The Guardian, 22 June 2019.

Ali’s Recipe of the Week: One for the Store-cupboard

Rebecca’s having a break this week and hopes to be back with another recipe next week.

With the cauliflower crop getting going, the moment may have arrived to do the first preserving of the year (that is, if you haven’t already made marmalade, perhaps using some delicious La Jimena seville oranges).

Piccalilli is as versatile as any savoury preserve in that you can flex the recipe according to what is available. Most piccalilli recipes call for courgettes, green beans, tomatoes, and other summer veg. However, if all you have is roots and PSB (purple sprouting broccoli) that combination will also make a perfectly good version of this tangy preserve. Luckily my book of preserves from the Women’s Institute can oblige with a suitably flexible recipe for any time of year! I’ve been know to make a version with cauliflower, onions (admittedly these are perhaps the two essential vegetables), carrot and swede!

Many piccalilli recipes call for the vegetables to be brined overnight, but this one breaks that rule, which simplifies the recipe and results in a delicious accompaniment for a ploughman’s lunch. And unlike chutneys which rely on evaporation of the liquid to thicken the preserve (which can sometimes take hours), as this one is thickened with flour it has a much shorter cooking time.

Accommodating Piccalilli from the W.I.
Makes about 2.7kg (6lb) = 6 average sized jam jars
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
450g (1lb) pickling onions – if you’ve still got any little Canalside onions left, they’d be perfect!
1.4L (2 1/2 pints) white malt vinegar (apple cider vinegar also works well)
900g (2lb) mixed vegetables, diced or cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) lengths
2 fat cloves of garlic
450g (1lb) caster sugar
50g (2oz) dry mustard (i.e. mustard powder)
115g (4oz) plain white flour, sieved
25g (1oz) ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt

Preparation
In a large preserving pan, summer the cauliflower and onions in 1.1litres (2 pints) of the vinegar for 10 minutes.

Add the other vegetables, garlic and sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Mix the mustard, flour. spices and salt with the remaining vinegar and add to the cooked vegetables, stirring all the time to prevent lumps from forming.

Stir well and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Spoon into cooled and sterilised jars and cover with vinegar proof tops. Label and store for at least 2 weeks before using. It will keep for months (I think I’ve even kept it for more than a year) with the flavour improving and mellowing as it ages.

From ‘Best Kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute: Jams, Pickles and Preserves’ by Midge Thomas

Rebecca’s recipe of the week: Super Noodles!

This recipe can be made with either cauliflower or sprouting broccoli. Do you have any coriander left over from last week? Use it here!
Frying tofu transforms it from soft (and bland) to crispy and very, very tasty. ‘Keep your hands off that tofu!’ I had to tell my sons whenever I made this, or else there wouldn’t be any left to add to the finished dish.

Coriander Noodle Bowl
Serves 4.

one Canalside cauliflower or 120g sprouting broccoli
1 bunch of fresh coriander
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 large cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
150ml olive oil (for the dressing)
250g soba noodles
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil (for frying the tofu)
280g firm tofu (this is the weight of a standard packet of tofu, but you don’t need to be precise about getting exactly this amount)

Cut the cauliflower into nice, bite-sized florets. If you’re using sprouting broccoli split any very thick pieces into thinner sprigs.

Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, make a dressing: blend the coriander, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, salt and olive oil together using a food processor or hand blender, or, if you’re so inclined, you can chop them together by hand. Taste it to see if it needs any more salt, or perhaps some more lemon juice. If it’s too thick you can add more olive oil. Once you’re happy with the taste set it aside while you cook the noodles and vegetables.

Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water. They should take about six-eight minutes to cook but check the packet.

WHEN THEY ARE NEARLY TENDER (about a minute or so before they are done) ADD THE CAULIFLOWER OR BROCCOLI and cook for the noodles and vegetables together for a final minute or so. You don’t want to really cook the vegetables much. (Unless you hate very al-dente vegetables—in that case add them sooner and cook them longer.)

Drain the noodles and vegetables and toss with the dressing. Set aside while you prepare the tofu.

Slice up the tofu as if you were making chips. You can make thin or thick sticks, as you prefer.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until it’s hot, and fry the tofu, a little at a time. Turn it carefully so that all sizes get nicely crispy and golden. Remove the crispy bits as they cook and add them to your noodle mixture.

When all the tofu has been fried toss everything together and serve.

(adapted from 101 Cookbooks.)

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