yotam ottolenghi adapted and inspired salads

green bean salad with mustard seeds and tarragon

Kaitie was home for the long Labour Day weekend. Four perfectly lazy days filled with long talks, meandering walks, card games, restful night sleeps and lots of food. We’re getting better at living in separate cities. Well, more to the point, I’m getting better at not wasting any of our time together trying to convince her to move back home. I’m, actually, starting to enjoy the excitement that all three of my girls lives bring to my life, now that they live away. Their day-to-day lives are filled with discovery and challenge very different from what they would be experiencing here. I love how they sort things out. If they need me, I’m a click or a plane ride away.

Listening to Kaitie this weekend, I marveled at how profoundly honest she is about her life. Nothing is candy coated. She can see straight to the heart of an issue and pinpoint the problem. The down side to that is not always being able to fix the problem. Sometimes you just have to let the universe sort things out…

Whenever my daughters come home, we cook. Cooking together is code for ‘FILL ME UP’ and not just with food! My kitchen is where the girls and I get centred. We fix each others bits. Sometimes, you just have to get your words out with someone you trust. Sunday, we raided my vegetable garden, intending to recreate a recipe from my favourite vegetarian cookbook PLENTY. As you can see, mission accomplished. Yotam Ottolenghi is a brilliant chef. His ingredient combinations leave me constantly muttering, ‘why didn’t I think of that’. Beyond the recipes in Plenty [I adore that title] the photographs are ravishing. Of the two hundred plus cookbooks in my library, his would make my Top Ten list! His GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH MUSTARD SEED AND TARRAGON is the type of salad you’d receive in a high-end french bistro. Colorful, crunchy and tart. My adaptation is a little more Main Street leaving out the crushed coriander seeds, nigella seeds [ didn’t know what they were until I googled them] and I swapped out the baby chard leaves for baby beet greens. Being able to pick everything from my vegetable garden is a must this time of year. The snow’s coming so resisting store bought ingredients is my defence!

We, also, had a happy accident. The beets were screaming to be picked so I grabbed a couple and threw a quick beet salad together. Feeling inspired by Chef Ottolenghi I mixed a salad of beets and horseradish. Once the beets were cooked, it took two seonds to throw together. FULL DISCLOSURE: It was our favourite between the two.

You decide…

GREEN BEAN SALAD adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
Serves 4

1 cup fresh green peas
3 large handfuls young green string beans, trimmed
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 mild fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 large handfuls baby beet greens


  • Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil.
  • Fill a large bowl with ice water – set aside.
  • Blanch the French beans for 3 minutes
  • Transfer the beans immediately to the iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry.
  • Using the same boiling water blanch the fresh peas for 4 minutes.
  • Transfer the peas, immediately, to the iced water to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain peas and dry.
  • Toss the beans, peas, beet greens and red onion in a large mixing bowl.
  • Place the mustard seeds and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat When the seeds begin to pop, pour the contents of the pan over the vegetables.
  • Toss well then place in a serving dish.
  • Sprinkle the top of the salad with chopped chilli, garlic, lemon zest and tarragon. Season with coarse sea salt to taste.

green bean salad with mustard seeds and tarragon

THE LOVE: Be sure to ‘pop’ the mustard seeds. It completely blasts the flavour!

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Serves 4

4 medium beets, leaves trimmed
3 tablespoons creamed horseradish
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Chives, snipped


  • Gently boil beets until fork tender
  • Plunge cooked beets into an ice water bath until you can handle them
  • Peel away the skins
  • Chop into mouth-size chunks then place in a medium mixing bowl
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine horseradish, white wine vinegar and olive oil
  • Pour over the beets and toss well
  • Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Sprinkle with snipped chives

THE LOVE: The horseradish is hot so adjust the amount you use to your own palate.

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Thanks for reading.