An Asian bean salad for German friends and a few hesitant Italians!

A constant source of amusement for me here in Italy is just how reticent some Italian friends can be at trying food from other cultures or, god forbid, foreign ingredients. I don’t think I’ve ever met a population so blissfully content with their own cuisine, sublime though it is, and as a result so reluctant to embrace other flavours as if in doing so they’re somehow being disloyal.

This was once again the case at the weekend at our inaugural bbq as alongside the more traditional dishes of bruschetta, mixed salad leaves (fresh from our garden no less!) and salsiccia sausages I threw a little Asian bean salad into the mix to once more challenge the local taste buds with the aromatic flavours of soy, sesame and coriander.

The result, an instant success with our German friends Stefan and Sabine with whom I share many foodie likes and surprise surprise a relative hit with the Italians who usually run for the hills at the muttering of Coriander. The proof as ever is an empty dish at the end of the evening but in addition to this a couple of friends (brava Andrea!) also commented on how much they liked this combination of flavours. So could it be that little by little a bit of me, and my tastes, is gradually rubbing off on our latin friends?

The culinary adventure didn’t however stop here as Sabine, knowing my love of rhubarb, made the most divine rhubarb-crumble-torte which once again put a cat amongst the Italians. What is rhubarb (Rabarbaro)? Is it a fruit? Sweet or savoury? Nice but a bit bitter? Hilarious considering that most of Italy’s neighbours in France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany practically gorge themselves on the stuff but proof once again that outside of their own kitchens Italians are often blinkered when it comes to flavours used a few hundred kilometers away. My only regret is that I didn’t take a photo of this torte as it really was fabulous (ps. Sabine can I please have the recipe?) and secondly that the Italians liked it a little too much leaving less second helpings for me!

And so for Sabine I give you my hastily invented Asian bean salad with the promise that when my coriander plant goes to seed you’ll be the first to benefit so that next year you can grow your own.

Asian Bean Salad (especially for Sabine)

Ingredients: 400g tin borlotti beans, 400g tin chick peas, 200g tin kidney beans, 200g tin (or better yet fresh) bean sprouts, 1 red spring onions, bunch fresh coriander, soy sauce, honey, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, salt and pepper

Tip: You can use any combination of beans you have available and/or boiled dried beans as opposed to tins if you’re happy to boil them up first.

Preparation: 10 mins (what could be easier?!)

1. Open all the tins and rinse the beans in a sieve under a cold water and leave to drain. If using fresh bean sprouts you can add them in later.

2. Preheat the grill for your sesame seeds.

3. Finely chop the red spring onion and coriander leaves (save some coriander to sprinkle on top).

4. In a mixing bowl combine 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 level tablespoon runny honey, salt (small amount as soy sauce already very salty) and pepper and mix well.

5. Take c. 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and place on a baking tray and grill for literally 1 minute until toasted golden.

6. Combine all the ingredients in the mixing bowl with the dressing and mix well before transferring into a serving dish.

7. Sprinkle with the last of the coriander to serve.

8. Enjoy!

One Response to “An Asian bean salad for German friends and a few hesitant Italians!”
  1. chefconnie says:

    These pictures are breathtaking!

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