Some recipes claim to be easy to make. Others claim to be quick. This recipe is neither. The ingredient list may look long for a bean salad. Somehow I’m starting to understand how three different kinds of beans (green beans, snow peas and green peas), combined with three different kinds of seeds (coriander, mustard and nigella seeds) and a few aromatics (onion, garlic, tarragon, red chile, lemon zest) thrown in make a whole lot of sense. Don’t get me wrong, I like simplicity.
But there is something appealing about this dish. Collectively, all the ingredients work harmoniously to make an otherwise generic bean salad sing with the punchy complexity of herbs and spices. Yet the clean freshness of the beans are very present. After making this dish, I can’t think of one ingredient I’d leave out. They all add something to the ensemble. It’s a revelation! I’m not making an argument in favor of long recipes. I believe that every recipe should only be as long and complicated as it needs to be in order to produce maximum flavor and enjoyment.
This is an Ottolenghi’s recipe from Plenty. Learning the use of herbs and spices began in earnest when I started cooking and reviewing the recipes in his books: Plenty, Plenty More and now NOPI. Certain lessons and recipes are starting to make good food sense to me.
He uses baby chard leaves, an optional ingredient, which gives the otherwise all green dish a touch of purple. I added the yellow wax beans instead for the color contrast. You don’t see yellow beans too often. I found them next to the green beans in the farmers’ market. They looked like they belong together, in the shopping basket, as well as, in this dish. True, I’m adding to the already lengthy list of ingredients. As long as it is not subtracting from the dish, it can stay.
|Added yellow beans for their contrasting color|