Summer has finally started to emerge from its long winter nap here in the UK. Like Punxsutawney Phil, the warm weather comes out slowly and tentatively, as though it's not altogether sure it's going to stay. On the occasion that we get some sunshine and warmth on a weekend, the entire nation decamps to their closest park or beach, picnicking and playing outside, and returns to work on Monday red as the proverbial lobsters. I personally prefer to stay in the shade, drinking lemonade and snacking on sorbet. I crave cooling, fresh foods.
Luckily, May and June burst forth in fruits and vegetables, if not always the weather to go with it. Purple sprouting broccoli is one of my favorites, not only for the color, but also for the delicate and sweet taste of the lightly blanched stalks. Still warm, I like to sprinkle them with a mild vinaigrette or dip them in a peanut sauce. That and some rice can be enough for dinner on a hot day.
Whenever I cook a grain for dinner, I always make extra for lunch the next day. Rice, barley, quinoa, bulgur and others make a great base for a filling salad. Especially with a few seasonal vegetables, a dash of vinegar or lemon juice transforms some day old rice. No longer will leftovers from dinner hang around the fridge for days on end. Like the summer sun, it will be here one day and gone the next.
Purple sprouting broccoli and canellini bean salad
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each sherry vinegar and rice wine vinegar
1/2 C. cooked brown rice
1/2 C. canellini beans
1/2 C. cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
4-5 stalks of purple sprouting broccoli
Salt to taste
Steam broccoli for about 3 minutes in the microwave, just until the stalks turn bright green and become slightly tender. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
Mix oil and vinegar in your container. Add in rice and mix through the dressing. Add beans, cucumber, broccoli, and a pinch of sea salt.