Autumn beetroot salad with asian vinaigrette

This salad is one of my go to lunches ‘with the girls’ or a fantastic autumn dinner party starter. Loaded with iron and vitamin C, beets can be boiled, juiced, pickled and made into dip or crisps. My little ones eat them just like an apple, as soon as they have been peeled and while they are still warm…

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What you’ll need: serves 2-4

250g baby spinach leaves
250g rocket leaves
2 large beetroots
150g Green beans
Mung bean or salad spouts
80g Pine nuts
Himalayan sea salt

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For the vinaigrette you’ll need:

3 tablespoons unpasteurised red wine vinegar (I’m loving Biona Organic)
3 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave

For the vinaigrette:

Simply measure out your ingredients into a bowl and whisk to together ready to serve.

For the salad:

Top and tail the beets. Place them in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 hour or until tender – when you stick a small knife into each beet, it should go in smoothly.  Leave to cool, then peel. You should be able to peel the skin away with your fingers. Cut beets into slices, then into 1cm thick chips and set aside.

Wash spinach and rocket, drain and gently towel dry. Set aside

Top and tail, then halve your green beans. Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil. Blanch the beans for 3 minutes, then lift them out and into iced water to refresh. Drain and dry, then set side.

In individual dishes arrange the spinach and rocket, then toss. Add a generous handful of green beans, top with mung beans, pine nuts, then your beets.  Finally a few more mung beans and pine nuts and a good few grinds of sea salt. Finish with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette. Or leave your guests to dress their own salad, by serving the vinaigrette in a funky jar on the table. Add some warm crusty bread, good olive oil and a glass of pinor noir and you’re done.

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Lucdousa – chinese sweet mung bean soup

This versatile dish screams ‘comfort food‘ and is the prefect antidote to all the over-indulgences of the silly season. Tried and tested, this recipe was given to me by my gorgeous father-in-law who has been making this hydrating and nutritious sweet dessert-soup for more than 30 years.

Traditionally the Chinese enjoy this soup after a meal, or between courses but you’ll find my in-laws, myself and our toddler sons tucking into a big bowl for breakfast or for a late lunch. Full of fibre, folate, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which as we know improves iron absorption). It makes plenty, which is just as well, because you’ll be going back for more.

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What you’ll need: (you’ll find eveything you need at any good Asian grocer)
2 cups of whole dried mung beans (Hepai)
1 cup of black-eyed beans
3-4 ltrs of water
1/4 cup which equates to roughly 10 tapioca sticks or flakes broken into one-inch pieces also known as (Bot Khoai Dai)

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1/4 cup of tapioca pearls
1 and a half to two cups of organic raw sugar (start with less, you can always add more)
1/4 cup of shredded seaweed (Hoitai) 

Utensils:
Large pot
Small and large colander
Measuring cups
1 litre measuring jug
Wooden spoon

How to prepare:
Put mung bean and black-eyed beans into a large pot, cover with water and soak for 1 hour

Break up tapioca sticks into one-inch pieces and soak for 1 hour

Drain pot of beans and refill with 3 litres (you may use the 4th litre later) of fresh water.  Bring beans to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking them for 30-mins or until soft

Meanwhile thoroughly wash and untangle seaweed in a small pot, to remove any possible sand (don’t soak the seaweed as you will loose the nutritional content) then drain in a small colander and set aside

When beans are al-dente add pre-soaked tapioca sticks

When beans are soft quickly rinse and drain tapioca pearls using your small colander

Then add them, your prewashed seaweed and the sugar stirring all three into the beans. Turn off the heat, then cover for 10 mins then eat

You’ll know you got this dish spot on if the tapioca pearls are transparent, if the soup is sweet and if there is ample liquid.  If this is not the case, just add another litre of water, a little more sugar and allow dish to sit for another 10 minutes

Once you have mastered this dish, you can adjust the amount of beans, tapioca or sugar content to your preferred taste.  You may also like to cut your shredded seaweed down a bit (into smaller pieces), that’s the way I like it

This dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days