We are having an endless summer here in Brisbane. The sunshiny days make it hard to believe we’re in autumn’s midst. With the long weekends stacked in our favour, we made a last minute dash up the coast recently for some much-needed beach time. It was magic salve for our work-weary souls. We were actually all booked to go beach camping on Straddie, but the beloved’s car was stolen (with kayak on top) on the Friday night before we were due to leave… which rather evilly squashed those plans. It topped off a run of bad luck (his phone and camera carked it the week before), so we seized the opportunity for a treat and booked a breezy apartment at Marcus Beach, a pebble’s skip south of Noosa and a barefoot stroll through the sand and heath to the shoreline. Bliss! This is big-time corny, but I came back from the beach with a conviction to retain that feeling – to live every day as if we are living at the beach. Corny, right?! Anyway, if you’re in need of a bit of a relaxed summer vibe, here’s a light, fragrant salad inspired by a beach picnic…
I cooked dried beans for this recipe (they hold their form well), but you could substitute canned beans if you’re short of time. Brown rice would also be an interesting substitute for basmati, and you can play around with the herbs too (coriander springs to mind).
1 cup basmati rice and water to cover
1 cup cooked red kidney beans (or 1 can)
3 sticks celery, halved down the middle and sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
small bunch fresh dill, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
a few good shakes of sumac
sea salt and pepper
celery heart for serving
Cook the rice, then place in a bowl, loosely covered, to cool in the fridge. Chop the celery and herbs and add to the bowl of rice, along with your (cooled) beans. Mix through the lemon zest and juice, sumac, salt and pepper and top with pieces from the celery heart.
Serves 3-4 as a side salad. Great with chicken, fish, grilled vegetables or felafels.
If you’re cooking dried kidney beans, soak them overnight, covered, in a big bowl of water. (I make more than is called for in this recipe and freeze the extra in meal-size portions – dried beans roughly double in volume when cooked.) Rinse well, cover with water in a large pot, bring to the boil and simmer partly covered on a low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Test whether they’re cooked the old fashioned way – pop one in your mouth! Drain and refresh in cold water.