Mixed Vegetable Salad a la Grecque

This is not a new recipe, but one I've always loved to serve at buffet parties. It has lots of gutsy flavours, can be made well in advance and doesn't need any last-minute attention.

Serves 12

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.

Mixed Vegetable Salad a la Grecque
 3 medium onions, peeled
 3 lb (1.35 kg) ripe, red tomatoes (or 3 x 400 g tins Italian chopped tomatoes)
 18 shallots, peeled
 12 oz (350 g) cauliflower
 12 oz (350 g) small to medium open-cap mushrooms, wiped
 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
 24 black peppercorns
 5 fl oz (150 ml) olive oil
 3 fat cloves garlic, crushed
 7 fl oz (200 ml) red wine vinegar
 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
 juice 3 medium lemons (about 4 fl oz/120 ml)
 1½ tablespoons tomato purée
 6 oz (175 g) dried butter beans (or judion beans), pre-soaked, cooked and drained
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
To serve:
 5 fl oz (150 ml) olive oil
 1½ oz (40 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
 6 spring onions, finely chopped, including the green parts

You will also need a saucepan with a capacity of 7 pints (4 litres), and two large, shallow serving dishes.


First, wash the butter beans or judion beans under cold, running water and discard any broken ones or alien bits.

Then, if it is convenient, soak them overnight in 4 pints (2.25 litres) of cold water. However, if you haven't time to soak them overnight, simply bring them to the boil (using the same quantity of water), boil for 10 minutes and leave them to soak for two hours.

Then, you need to dry-roast the coriander seeds. To do this, place them in a small frying pan over a medium heat and stir and toss them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and start to jump in the pan.

Now crush them quite coarsely with a pestle and mortar.

Next, finely chop the onions, heat the oil in a saucepan and soften the onion in it for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, skin the fresh tomatoes, if using. Watch how to here...  Place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on to them. Leave them for exactly a minute (or 15-30 seconds, if they are small), then remove them and slip off their skins (protecting your hands with a cloth if they are hot).

Now quarter them and add them (or the tinned tomatoes) to the pan.

Then add the crushed coriander seeds and peppercorns, garlic, vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, tomato purée (mixed with 6 fl oz/175 ml water), and a teaspoon of salt.

Bring everything up to the boil, stir in the shallots, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, break the cauliflower into 1 inch (2.5 cm) florets, halve the mushrooms and add them both, along with the beans, to the pan. Cover it again and simmer for a further 20 minutes, stirring the vegetables around once or twice during the cooking time.

After 20 minutes, test them with a skewer – they should be tender but still firm. Now taste to check the seasoning. Then pour the contents of the pan into the serving dishes and leave to cool.

I think this is best left covered in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop, so it can be made up to two days ahead.

To serve, remove the dishes from the fridge an hour in advance, drizzle the vegetables in each serving dish with half the oil, then scatter over the chopped parsley and spring onions.


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