Courgette, broad bean, beetroot and feta salad – home-grown cooking


Courgette, broad bean, beetroot, and feta salad
A terrific salad featuring home-grown beans and courgettes.

One of the key reasons for relocating to Scrumptious Scran Villas some two and a half years ago was the garden. It’s on a big slope, as we live opposite a burn (brook, to those of you in England- shire), but pretty much south-facing. This probably won’t mean much to those of you who are not green fingered, yet the main thing to consider is that this means it has great potential for growing fruit and vegetables.

A couple of years of renovating said villas – well more a modern-ish Dutch town house, but this isn’t an interior design blog  – has meant that to date the garden has been maintained rather than developed, and things are about to get worse before they get better in terms of landscaping. The final piece of the building renovation jigsaw involves an extension that will result in a kitchen-diner. This development will provide a great cooking and entertaining space but of course will also cause havoc in the garden too.

Courgette in garden.
There's no hiding, my lovely courgette!
Ultimately however, I imagine that I shall stroll out of the French doors of the kitchen, in a style akin to Nigel Slater, to gather herbs and vegetables from the terraced raised beds (any tips on these greatly appreciated) but for now I have to make do with a relatively compact veg patch.  And for a number of reasons, this hasn't been at its most productive this year.  The French beans have been disappointing, and the beetroot and spinach seedlings all succumbed to slugs and snails (if only I could find an organic control method for these that really worked).

However, all is not doom and gloom, because growing conditions in south-east Scotland this year have been ideal for two crops; broad beans and courgettes. And it just so happens these rate as two of my favourite ingredients.  There is something delightful in gathering these from the garden knowing that I have tended to them, that they are organically produced and, whilst it might be purely psychological, that they taste all the better for it.  So what to cook with my vegetable harvest?

Well certainly I wanted the flavour of the courgettes and broad beans to shine through, so it couldn't be a dish that featured anything else that might be overpowering.  Also, gathering summer crops is, well, indicative of summer so something a bit lighter would be appropriate, even if the weather in Scotland hasn't exactly been continuously scorching.

Broad beans and courgette from the veg patch.
Just some of my home-grown haul.
So a sumptuous salad seemed to fit the bill, where blanched beans and char-grilled courgettes are centrepiece, but complimented with deep sweet-earthy flavour provided by beetroot (preferably roasted) and salty sharpness added by a smattering of feta cheese.  Add a fresh grassy-aniseed note from dill, piquancy from green spring onion, and bring it all together with a good quality dressing, and the result is a tasty, satisfying and fresh summer dish, that can be served warm or cold.

The recipe is makes enough to amply serve two as a tasty supper, or could feed more as a great accompaniment to likes of grilled pork chops or some chunky, roast fish steaks, should you wish not to stick to being vegetarian.  And of course, the vegetables don't have to be home grown.  But eating this dish would undoubtedly bring a smile to your face if they are.

Serves two as a decent supper.

Ingredients

For the salad
  • 1-2 courgettes (depending on size) around 200-250g, plus a couple of tablespoons of oil for brushing
  • 200-250g broad beans - post podded.  You can double pod them if you want, but I like the outer skins and life is too short
  • A couple of medium sized beetroot, either bought ready cooked (absolutely fine, if not in vinegar) or peeled and roast until tender in the oven (about 30 minutes)
  • 100g of decent feta cheese - use a reduced fat variety if desired
  • A couple of small spring onions, chopped
  • A tablespoon of chopped dill.
For the dressing
  • 1 tablespoon of decent vinegar – good quality cider or sherry vinegar would be ideal
  • 3 tablespoons of decent oil – I used cold-pressed UK rapeseed oil
  • Half clove of garlic, very slightly crushed
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season.
 Preparation and cooking
  1. Put a griddle on a medium heat, and whilst it comes up to temperature, slice the courgette into medium rounds no more than a centimetre thick.  Brush each of the courgette disks on both sides with a little oil.
  2. Place the courgette disks on the griddle (you may need to do this in batches) and grill until they begin to soften and exhibit lovely charred lines, then turn over and repeat on the other side. Set aside.
  3. Whilst cooking the courgettes bring an appropriately sized pan of salted water to the boil.  Drop in the broad beans and return to the boil, then cook for around 3-5 minutes (depending on how chunky the beans are) until just tender.  Drain the beans from the hot water and then immediately transfer to an appropriately sized bowl filled with cold – ideally iced – water to stop the beans overcooking.
  4. Cut the beetroot – which is either pre-bought (but not preserved in vinegar) or previously roasted – into 1cm or so cubes.
  5. Break the feta cheese into chunks which are also around 1cm cubes.
  6. Place the garlic clove in the bottom of a small bowl.  Pour in the vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper, and then lightly whisk for a few seconds. Rest for a couple of minutes for the garlic to infuse the dressing, then whisk again until the dressing begins to emulsify. Leave to rest again whilst the salad is assembled.
  7. In a roasting dish, layer the courgettes, beans, beetroot, feta and onion, sprinkling a little dill on each layer. Remove the garlic from the dressing, and whisk again until smooth before pouring over the assembled salad.
  8. Gently toss the salad as it is served to distribute the dressing evenly around the salad ingredients.

2 comments on "Courgette, broad bean, beetroot and feta salad – home-grown cooking"
  1. Am visiting the in-laws tomorrow - perfectly planned as they harvest their garden, so fingers crossed I can 'help them out' with some 'surplus produce' ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that sounds full of promise. Let me know what you end up cooking with your haul!

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