What kind of person purchases mung beans on a whim, never having used them in cooking before?! Oh right, me! But they’ve sat on my shelf for several months now and I knew it was time to put them to good use.
Flipping through Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I was inspired by one of his lentil salad recipes and figured I could do something similar with mung beans. So when I Googled mung bean salad, it totally cracked me up that the first recipe I found was by Ottolenghi. I was sold, mostly because I trust that the masterful chef knows what to do with an infamously boring legume.
So how did it turn out? Oh, just some crazy flavor explosions and sheer vegetarian happiness. It’s crazy how much mung beans can brighten up with just a little added spice, vinegar, and cheese. I served the beans with a simple Indian-inspired vegetable soup (not Ottolenghi's), which was also quite delicious! Both recipes are below. Pro Tip: if you make both recipes, add some of the leftover carrot liquid from the mung bean recipe to the vegetable soup broth. Adds a nice touch!
Carrot and Mung bean Salad
Time: 30 Minutes
3/4 cup dried green mung beans
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch batons
½ tsp sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4.5 cups feta, crumbled
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the beans and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked but still retain a bite. Drain, shake well and transfer to a large bowl. About three minutes before the beans are done, heat two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan and add the seeds. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until they start to pop – about three minutes – then pour, hot oil and all, over the beans, along with the vinegar, garlic, chili and half a teaspoon of salt.
While the beans are cooking, lay the carrots in a pan large enough for them to form a shallow layer on the bottom. Pour over about 2/3 cups water – the carrots should be nearly submerged – plus two tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and keep on a high heat for eight minutes, by which time the water should have evaporated and the carrots become slightly caramelized but still crunchy. Drain some liquid, if needed.
Add the carrots to the bean bowl, along with the cilantro, and stir gently. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl, sprinkle over lemon zest, dot with feta and drizzle with olive oil.
Root Vegetable, Cauliflower and Tomato Soup
Time: 35 Minutes
1 medium watermelon radish, about 1/2 lb, cut into 1” pieces
1 large Yukon gold potato, cut into 1” pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4’ diagonals
3/4 cup cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
4 cups water
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
Add all of the vegetables, except the chopped tomato, into a large pot or Dutch oven. Cover with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are al dente, about 20 minutes. Add tomato (and juices from mung bean recipe, if using), and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Serve immediately.