Salad days

It looks as though summer’s arrived and I’ve got the sunburn to prove it.

I love this time of year even if it does mean pink skin, insect bites and (as anyone working in a marketing or comms role in Wales knows – and dreads) the Royal Welsh Show.   The sudden appearance of the sun this weekend has really made me very happy and I hope it stays.

At the start of every summer, I think I’ll become more virtuous and fill the longer days with salads and evening runs. It’s a nice idea but it rarely happens, mainly because I hate running and also because as soon as the sun makes an appearance, my good intentions go on holiday. Two words: beer garden.

This weekend is a case in point.  Sure, I’ve eaten some avocado and I’ve been to the gym, but last night’s ‘dinner’ consisted of almost an entire tube of Pringles (no, I don’t want you to tell me the calories) washed down with plenty of red wine. But that’s the fun of an impromptu garden party with my pals.

Today, I took a little daytrip to Gwaelod y Garth where I marvelled at the beautiful bluebells in Coed y Bedw nature reserve and managed to a walk all the way to the top of the mountain. Full points to the city girl. After that, I was so hungry that I inhaled a bowl of chips and a couple of ‘cheeky’ beers at the pub.

It’s the weekend though so it’s allowed. I’m a big believer in eating a little bit of what you fancy and as long as you’re getting your five a day and doing a bit of exercise during the week, it’s OK to overdo it a bit the rest of the time.

With this in mind, I’ve put together this simple summer salad which is healthy and light, and thanks to the chickpeas, which are packed with protein, it’ll keep you full for hours. It works well as a main meal but could also be served as a side dish for meat or fish (for all you non-vegans out there) and is perfect for a picnic or as a packed lunch.

Use any green veg you like (I used asparagus because it’s in season plus broccoli, spinach and fennel) and the hazelnuts are optional but add some nice crunch. This is the first time I’ve cooked with buckwheat and it’s surprisingly easy. You can just boil it (like it says on the packet) although toasting it beforehand gives it extra bite. You can use quinoa, rice or couscous if you prefer but buckwheat has a nuttier texture and taste.

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Chickpea, orange and buckwheat salad

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

150g buckwheat

1 tin of chickpeas (400g) rinsed and drained

1 orange

Green vegetables of your choice

2–3 handfuls of hazelnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Parsley

Olive oil

 

Method

In a frying pan, toast the buckwheat on a medium heat for five minutes. Bring a litre of salted water to a boil, add the buckwheat and simmer for 10 minutes (or as instructed on the packet), until the grains are almost tender and have absorbed most of the water. Drain and leave to cool a little.

Meanwhile, lightly steam your vegetables, and using the same frying pan, toast the hazelnuts for 2–3 minutes then remove from the pan and set aside. In a bowl, cover the chickpeas with the juice from the orange, season with salt and pepper and stir.  Place in the pan, and toast on a low heat (you don’t need oil for this) for 2–3 minutes. Add the buckwheat to the pan and cook for a minute then transfer the mixture to a bowl. Slice the orange and add this, with the vegetables, to the bowl. Top with the chopped hazelnuts and parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

 

Watch this space for more summer recipes.

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