This recipe is only really worth making when you can buy (or grow!) the beans and tomatoes in season, when they are fresh and flavourful. The addition of cheese and pumpkin seeds makes it hearty enough for a complete lunch if served with a nice chunky baguette, or put a big bowl of the salad out at a bbq or buffet.
Ingredients (for 3 – 4 people for lunch)
250g green/french/bobby beans
250g runner beans, destringed if necessary and cut into diamond slices
2 ripe tomatoes, in big chunks
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
50g hard strong cheese, e.g. aged gouda, pecorino, shaved into fine slivers off the block with a sharp knife
For the dressing
Large handful of basil leaves, torn
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 tbsp aged balsamic vingear (or 2 tbsp unaged, but omit the red wine vinegar below)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
2 tbsp water
salt and pepper to taste (plus a little sugar if you like)
1) Cook both types of beans separately in boiling salted water for a few minutes each – they should be tender but not soft. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain again.
2) Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan until they brown and start to pop. Allow to cool, then mix with the beans, tomatoes and cheese.
3) Using a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic and beans with a little of the rapeseed oil. When nicely mashed, add the other ingredients and taste – you may need to add a little more vinegar if it is too sweet for you, or a little sugar if it is too acidic – it depends on the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar you are using. You will only need half the dressing for the salad, so keep the rest in a clean jar in the fridge for another salad! Toss the salad in the dressing and serve.