You felt that, right? The cool, soothing fingers of Autumn weather creeping into our days. I opened the bedroom window the other morning, bristled at the unexpected chilly breeze and closed it quickly. Yesterday, we all waited until the afternoon to see some sunshine poking through the clouds and rain. Rain can be soothing but if you make the mistake of venturing out of the house, rain means chaos and I'm not fond of chaos. And that's not even counting the parts of NSW that are flooding and the flash floods in Sydney.
I was stuck in traffic one day. I was stressed and needing to buy a loaf of bread and I also needed a chair. A lightbulb came on over my head and I decided to ring my mother handsfree to see if she had any.
"MOTHER I'M DRIVING, DO YOU HAVE ANY BREAD AND A BENTWOOD CHAIR?" I yelled, for no particular reason except to convey the panic I was feeling.
"Bread? Chair? "she asked
"YESS!! BREAD! CHAIR-A BENTWOOD PLEASE!" my panic rising as the light changed to green.
"Errr no..." she said.
"OK THANKS BYYYEEE!" I said and hung up.
My mother is used to these phone calls and honestly bread or a chair really aren't the weirdest thing I've rung up and asked her for. And sometimes I rope others into my panicked shenanigans. An example was Brasserie Bread bakery in Banksmeadow. I knew that they had these beautiful bentwood chairs and I needed one for photographs. Unable to locate one to buy I asked Sarah from Brasserie Bread where they bought them from. A conversation ensued and I thought that I'd just ask if it were at all possible to borrow a chair for less than 24 hours. I knew it was an odd request and thankfully she said that it was fine. And visiting them would kill two birds with one stone too as I was able to get some bread for the same photograph (one of their beautiful seeded epi breads - swoon!).
If you find that making a nice meal at the end of a busy or rainy Autumn day is a bit too much work then this is the recipe for you. You can do this with tinned beans or fresh beans - I used some Edible Gems borlotti beans I was sent that cooked up quickly and if you use tinned well then you're about 5 minutes away from a balanced, delicious, healthy meal. The large red chillies with a hint of heat counter the creamy feta and the lightly crispy edged beans give the salad gravity while spring onions and garlic complete the dish. There are a multitude of flavours going on here and the recipe is based on the Ottolenghi salad which Hanna adapted on her lovely blog Scandelights. As soon as I saw her recipe I knew that I would make it with the feta and borlotti beans.
I know that I'm a really pushy sort, mainly of the recipe variety but I do urge anyone that has a vague interest in a healthy or vegetarian or vegetable based dish to try this. Or even someone that just wants a really quick but amazingly tasty dish for dinner. It is foolproof and worth making and even if you do use a tin of beans it will still reward you when you've battled the rain and thunderstorms to get home or you just need dinner in 5 minutes.
So tell me Dear Reader, what are you going to cook or eat this weekend? And do you ever call up your mum or dad with odd requests?
Borlotti Bean & Feta Salad
Adapted from Hanna from Scandelights, originally from Ottolenghi
- 300g-400g (10.6 ozs - 14.1 ozs) shelled & cooked or tinned borlotti beans (or quite honestly, any bean that you like)
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large red chilli, chopped
- 6 spring onions, chopped
- 50-75g (1.5 -2.6 ozs) feta (I used a chilli Persian style feta from High Valley Dairy in Mudgee)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Small handful of fresh mint (or fresh herbs of choice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Buyer's Tip: Sumac should be easily available at the supermarket in Australia under the spice section. Ground sumac is a dark magenta coloured powder (from grinding the berries) that has a tart and fruity flavour to it (similar to lemons).
Step 1 - Heat a saucepan on medium to high heat. Add the oil and cook the beans until they become lightly crispy on the outside. Add the garlic, red chilli and spring onion and stir gently and cook for another few minutes until fragrant and the spring onions are soft.
Step 2 - Remove from heat and sprinkle sumac, lemon juice, some of the torn mint leaves and season with salt and pepper. Crumble feta over the top and serve with a lovely crusty bread.