Make-ahead, Salads

Mixed Bean Salad

As summer draws to a close, and the darker, colder days are on the horizon, tuck yourself into a healthy and colourful salad to keep the spirits high! Less of the summery cucumber and lettuce, more of the wholesome bean. When it starts to get colder outside, and soup season is just round the corner (nearly Christmas!) it is so much easier to just reach for the ‘comforting’ foods. I find that making a big batch of this bright bean salad keeps the hunger pangs, and therefore the temptation, at bay.

Oops, I forgot the pepper and sweetcorn!

Oops, I forgot the pepper and sweetcorn!

In the summer, Liam and I had a barbeque with our parents (where they met for the first time!), and we made a lovely, fresh pearl barley salad and a Moroccan-style couscous salad, inspired by salads I’d seen in the shops. It is incredible how easy it is to make some of the items off the supermarket shelf. I have become a bit of a homemade-food freak as of late. I even asked Liam if I had become the fun police (he said no, and that it is good I have principles!). I just don’t like knowing I am eating all of the preservatives off the shelf, that I could avoid by making food at home. (Told you, fun police.)

This mixed bean salad is a supermarket-salad inspired recipe, where I just worked out the best ratios of the key ingredients and mixed them to create a side/snack that tastes all fresh and light, but is actually nice and filling. I use tinned, cooked beans for this salad, and while you could go the whole hog and cook the beans yourself, it would take a lot of time and effort for something that really should be quick and easy. I can still compromise!

Since moving into our house, I planted the herbs out in bigger pots in the garden, where they have flourished (apart from Greek basil, whom I sincerely apologise to for all the months of neglect on the windowsill). The mint and parsley grow like crazy now, which is great because I needed a big handful of each for the salad. Having fresh herbs growing in the garden draws more appeal to making this mixed bean salad myself too, as the cost comes to less than buying the equivalent from a supermarket.

Both me and Liam eat this as a snack during our day at work (I eat mine mid-morning to fuel me until a later lunch!). As veggies, we sometimes find ourselves lacking in protein-rich meals, so we added this to our day to up our intake. If you split the salad into 6, each serving contains roughly 10g of protein. It’s all win, win, win!

Ingredients:

1 can mixed beans/pulses, rinsed and drained

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

1 large handful fresh mint, washed and finely chopped

1 large handful fresh flat leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Optional (but well worth it):

1 large red pepper, finely diced

100g frozen sweetcorn

Directions:

1. If using, cook the sweetcorn in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. Once cooked, run under cold water in a sieve.

2. Mix the cooked sweetcorn with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and season generously.

3. Chill in the fridge in a sealed tub (it will keep for a while – I’ve gone up to 4 days,  it will probably last a bit longer).

4. Enjoy.

Well, that was easy!

I hope you enjoy all that autumn brings!

 

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Mains, Make-ahead

Mexican Bean Burgers

I risk sounding like a broken record, but I’ve been such a busy bee lately. I thought that putting that final citation in my overdue 18-month report would let me breathe a huge sigh of relief, but it brought the fear of my presentation, fear of the viva, and all the lab work that has been put back while I have been writing. I thought that my now-empty weekends would feel like I was frolicking through a beautiful meadow, letting the fresh smells of freedom waft up into my nostrils, but instead I’ve been overcome with the need to see my friends and family that I’ve neglected for months, and the guilt that I still can’t find the time for all of them (I don’t even have that many people to see!). I’m sat here on a Saturday in the lab office, waiting for my cells to do their thing so I can go home and try to cling on to the remainder of my spare time*.

I should have known a PhD would be like this. After all, Liam has been through it, and, along with many others, has tried to warn me of the pains of a PhD student. Somehow I thought it would be different, but no! I have not escaped. Oh well, only another 16 months to go.
At least I can go home and tuck into a tasty Mexican bean burger!

*spare time to worry about not finishing enough work for my PhD,  not having enough time to see my friends, and not having enough time to blog (obviously the most important…)

Fry!

Mash!

Mix!

Shape!

Liam found this recipe on the Delicious Magazine website when looking for something that would feel satisfying enough for a Saturday night to keep us from reaching for the takeaway menu. A vegetarian burger fits the bill perfectly! Anything between two layers of bread tends to go down well, but we tend to try and avoid a carb-heavy diet most of the time. I can make an exception for this Mexican bean burger though, as it is rammed with healthy pulses and delicious toppings.
The tins of mixed pulses I use contain chickpeas, soya beans , black eyed beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans and adzuki beans. There’s a load of fibre and protein packed into each burger, and when topped with red onion, spinach, avocado and jalapeños (our favourite!), makes a wonderfully nutritious meal. I love topping mine with soured cream too!
I eat these in the satisfying knowledge that I’ve got a good portion of soluble and insoluble fibre for the day in there, which is essential for healthy heart and bowel, respectively. Soluble fibre is thought to be effective at lowering our cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibre helps with regularity (if you know what I mean) and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Aswell as being super healthy, they are super easy and super handy, as they can be cooked from frozen for a lazy weeknight treat!

To make them, this is all you need:

1 tbsp oil for frying (e.g. rapeseed oil)

1 large red onion (I only had small, so I used 3), chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)

3 cans (400g) of mixed beans/pulses, rinsed and drained

2 slices of wholegrain bread

1/2 lime, juiced

1 medium free-range egg, beaten

1 handful pf coriander, chopped

To Make:

1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion for 5 minutes until soft, but not browned.

2. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, paprika, cayenne, chilli powder (if using) and cook for another few minutes

3. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. If you haven’t already, you can drain and rinse the mixed beans/pulses now.

4. Pop the cooked onion/garlic/chilli/spices in a bowl with the mixed beans/pulses, and mash. Mash until approximately half is mushed up, and half still resembles beans. This will give it a nice texture.

5. Whiz up the bread in a blender until it resembles breadcrumbs

6. Add the breadcrumbs, lime juice, egg and coriander and mix it until everything is combined.

7. Shape into burgers of equal size. The size I make mine, I always seem to come out with 9, but you can make this mixture into slightly more or less, depending on your needs.

Don’t they look so appetising?!

If you want to freeze some, place them uncovered on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and pop them in the freezer. When they are frozen, portion them out into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months (mine never last this long though because they are too tasty).

To Cook:

Fresh: Chill the burgers for 30 minutes in the fridge. Heat 1 tbsp additional oil in a pan, and fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden-brown.

Frozen: Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan). Place the frozen burgers on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the tray with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes. I usually flip mine over half way through, too. (If you are cooking sweet potato fries too, put the fries in the oven 10 minutes before the burgers, at the same temperature, and flip them over every 10-15 minutes.)

To Serve:

Serve in a wholegrain bun with spinach, red onion, avocado and jalapenos, and top with soured cream. To make it even more tasty, serve with sweet potato fries (it is definitely worth it!)

Stay happy (these burgers are sure to make you!)

Alice x

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