Have I mentioned that amongst the cookbooks I have, one of the most valued ones is Ottolenghi, The Cookbook…along with his younger brother Plenty! :) I think there’s not one recipe from the book I’m not inspired by. Everything is so vibrant, the ingredient combinations are fantastic, the looks so appetising and colourful. For anyone who doesn’t know it I strongly recommend you flick through its pages just to get a feel of his philosophy of cooking. I got to know it through this post on Delicious Days featuring the almighty aubergine (probably my favourite ingredient) and decided to buy the book after a look at a few recipes. When it arrived and had a quick look at it…I didn’t know where to start, I wanted to have a go at everything!!!Still haven’t got around to visiting the “restaurants” but just to say that I just want to go to London to visit Ottolenghi! So, when I do get to do so, I will definately share the experience, which I am sure will live up to the expectations!
Anyway, about this salad…this year Linguini decided to have a go at planting quite a few vegetables: various tomato varieties, courgette, butternut squash (from the seeds of one we ate and loved), peas and beans. Some have grown beautifully, others not quite as well! It’s such a pity after all the time and care that went into them, to watch how most of the beautiful pea plants after flowering begin to wilt irreversibly from a sun overdose. They are picky, those ones…we did get to try a few pods (five to be exact!)and they were just like candy, straight from the pod. The beans have done so-so, began growing at incredible speed and then some made it through, others weren’t so lucky. But we did get to pick 3 or 4 handfuls of them…
The moment I got the first one, I knew I had to try this salad, which from the moment I saw it I knew I’d love. And like every other recipe I have tried, it was just a perfect match of ingredients! The crunchy very lightly cooked fresh beans with the earthy flavour of the nuts and it’s oil and the citrus punch of the orange rind. All plainly seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and maldon salt…simple yet perfect. The original recipe also includes mangetout, which I love (I would have added them lightly sautéed rather than boiled) but having just Linguini’s tender beans at hand, I didn’t miss them. So, I’ve repeated the salad, with the last handful of beans, the late ones the plant still offered us, for you…and for us to enjoy again!Hope you like it too!
French beans, hazelnut and orange rind salad (adapted from Ottolenghi)
400g of french beans
50g of hazelnuts
the rind of 1/4 of a large orange (more or less to taste)
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
hazelnut oil* and olive oil (about half of each) to season to taste
freshly ground black pepper
maldon salt or another fleur de sel, ideally
(the original recipe also includes mangetout and some chives, which I skipped)
*This is the oil I used, From Percheron Frères, a fantastic brand, if you can find it.
So, this salad is as simple as lightly boiling the beans (you can leave them whole or slice in two if you like them smaller) in plenty of unsalted water for about 3-5minutes,(more or less depending on how large the beans are) just enough time to retain a crunch and to plonge them in iced or running cold tap water to keep their vibrant green colour. Once cool, drain and dry.
For the hazelnuts, since I tried these unshelled hazelnuts from a trip to Asturias and realised the flavour and how well they keep, I do not buy shelled ones. So, that’s the only bit of work…worthwhile I find. So, just shell them and roast them in the oven, when ready, they peel very easily. Let them cool before mixing with the other ingredients.
Remove the orange peel in long thin strips (trying not to get any of the white skin, as it is bitter) or cutting it off before slicing finely.
Finally, just mix, season with the oils, salt and pepper to taste and serve! If you are not going to serve right away, it’s best to keep the ingredients separate, so the hazelnuts retain their crunch, or at least to avoid seasoning until the last minute.