When I am having cookers-block (it can be a serious problem at times), my favourite place to turn is the library. This way I don't have to commit to a book if I don't like it (let's not read into this too much shall we).
I tend to grab a bunch- leaf through them- and if they don't jump out at me, I send them back. I am quite picky. Pictures can really help inspire one to try out interesting flavours. They are essential in a cookbook these days. I love a photo that jumps off the page and makes me want to run to the kitchen.
I recently have been perusing a cookbook called Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume. The book has loads of Middle-Eastern recipes with some twists- That is where I found this salad. The picture jumped off the page. I HAD to try it. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, since that has always been my greatest downfall, but I didn't play with it too much and kept most of the elements that are essential to the finished product.
The dish is topped with nigella seeds which have a distinctive flavour and are used often in Middle-Eastern dishes. You either love them or you hate them- they are strong, but definitely add a dimension to this recipe. You could probably sub black sesame if you don't like nigella and want a similar look.
Try it out if you want a nice summer lunch- Since it is a vegetarian dish- pair it with some rice or nice crusty bread to make it a complete protein! We need to balance out those amino acids.
Soak the Beans: (if you use canned you can skip this step)
9 oz (280g) mung beans
3 large onions thinly sliced
1-2 (15-30 ml) tbsp olive oil for sautéing
1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) olive oil for dressing
zest of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon (~3 tbsp or 45 ml)
2-4 tbsp (30-60ml) roughly chopped parsley
1-2 green onions finely diced
1 tbsp (15 ml) dijon mustard
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) thinly sliced sundried tomatoes*
1 tbsp (15 ml) nigella seeds
*you can use the ones in oil or dry- but the dry ones should be soaked in hot water for a few minutes to soften
Prepare the Beans: Soak the mung beans in 6 cups (1.5L) cool water overnight or for 8 hours. Drain the mung beans, place in a pot and cover with cool water. Bring them to a boil and simmer for ~18-25 minutes or until tender but not mushy (keep an eye on them- check after 18!). When finished, drain through a wire seive and set aside.
Meanwhile, sauté the onions over medium heat with a tbsp or 2 of olive oil. We are aiming to semi caramelize these so stir constantly and add more olive oil if needed (I used a non-stick pan which allowed for less oil to be added- you may need more if you don't have one). Once the onions are lightly golden and softened, remove from heat and set aside (~20-25 minutes).
Combine the olive oil for the dressing with the lemon juice, mustard, green onion and parsley in a bowl. Add the beans, tomatoes and onions and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on the nigella seeds to garnish and serve hot or at room temperature with some crusty bread or rice for a complete meal.
Tip: Also- If you don't have mung beans, you could use another small type of bean or even lentils. I would use either canned lentils for conveniance or navy beans, the mung beans are just such a gorgeous colour!